A blockbuster trade at Thursday's NWSL draft, held here in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, was headlined by Delran native Carli Lloyd coming home to New Jersey to play for Sky Blue FC.
Sky Blue plays at Rutgers University's Yurcak Field, which Lloyd called home during her days as a Scarlet Knight. Lloyd spent the last three seasons with the Houston Dash.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Lloyd requested to be traded to Sky Blue so she could be closer to home and her husband, who lives in South Jersey. Lloyd confirmed that Friday in an interview with the Inquirer and Daily News.
"While this has been a bittersweet moment at this juncture of my career, I am ready to come home to NJ, be with my husband and live in our home together," Lloyd wrote on Twitter. "I'm super excited to be able to play for Sky Blue and to return back at my Alma Mater."
It is no secret that Lloyd has wanted to play on the east coast for some time, but the circumstances weren't really right for it until now. Sky Blue's hiring of new coach Denise Reddy was likely a factor, as Lloyd knows Reddy well.
From the Dash side, new manager Vera Pauw told the Chronicle: "She is a player you don't want to trade… but I know what it is like to live away from the one you love. We could stop her from going to New Jersey because we had her rights, but in the end, there is more in life than soccer."
Lloyd thanked Pauw on Twitter "for understanding my situation."
The deal as a whole — details of which were first confirmed by the Inquirer and Daily News — is enormous. U.S. national team star forward Christen Press moves from the Chicago Red Stars to Houston, and Australian goal-scoring phenom Sam Kerr moves from Sky Blue to Chicago.
But that's just the start of it. Four other current players are swapping teams. Among them are Sellersville-born forward Jen Hoy, who moves from Chicago to Sky Blue; and Canadian national team forward Janine Beckie, who moves from Houston to Sky Blue.
Each team also swapped some picks in this year's draft.
Here is what each team ended up with:
Chicago Red Stars: Sam Kerr, midfielder Nikki Stanton and the No. 15 and 24 draft picks
Houston Dash: Christen Press, an international roster slot and the No. 7 draft pick
Sky Blue FC: Carli Lloyd, Janine Beckie, Jen Hoy and the No. 6 and No. 13 draft picks
At the top of the draft, Stanford's Andi Sullivan went No. 1 to the Washington Spirit. She already has has played seven times for the U.S. national team, and is likely to be on the 2019 World Cup team. South Carolina's Savannah McCaskill, a U.S. youth national team regular, went No. 2 to the Boston Breakers.
Sullivan, McCaskill, Lloyd and Press are currently at the U.S. national team's winter training camp in Carson, Calif., just outside Los Angeles. The Americans play Denmark on Sunday in San Diego (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
One player with Philadelphia roots was drafted. West Chester native Abby Elinsky, a University of North Carolina midfielder, went to the Dash at No. 30 overall.