IN January, Australian superstar Sam Kerr was part of the biggest trade deal in NWSL history.
The Aussie attacker left Sky Blue FC to head to Chicago Red Stars in a deal which also displaced two-time World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd and US national team forward Christen Press.
But now, Kerr has opened up on the move — revealing to foxsports.com.au that she actually requested the trade.
“I’m pumped to play in Chicago, I asked for a trade so I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
When asked if Sky Blue were happy to let her go, she responded: “They had no choice really, they don’t want an unhappy player there, I just thought it was time for a change so it worked out in the end for all of us.”
A breakout season saw Kerr nominated for the Best FIFA Women’s Player award, and achieve a range of accolades including NWSL MVP and golden boot during her time with Sky Blue.
With a range of prominent footballers forcing through their own moves in recent years, the 24-year-old stressed the need for players to be able to choose their own futures — as professionals would in any other career.
“I think if you’re unhappy in your job you would leave,” she said.
“But people forget that about footballers that we’re human and your job is also your life. And I know were playing football for a living, but at the same time you still need to be happy.
“I see a lot of players cop a lot of stick for it but at the end of the day if you’re unhappy in your job you can’t perform and you can’t do the best job that you need to do.
“I think the players should have some say, I understand the clubs pay a certain amount of money to keep them but if the clubs not making you happy you should be able to put in your resignation and leave.”
Kerr will begin her Chicago Red Stars career when the side take on the Houston Dash on March 25.
At Chicago, she will also play alongside US national team players Julie Ertz, Alyssa Naeher and Sofia Huerta, to name just a few.
WHY SO MANY MATILDAS ARE HEADED OVERSEAS
Alen Stajcic’s side is facing a blockbuster three-year tournament cycle.
That all kicks off with March’s Algarve Cup, with the Matildas flying out to Portugal on Tuesday night to prepare for one of women football’s most prestigious tournaments.
Then comes the Asian Cup in Jordan — which also doubles as a World Cup qualifier — in April.
Assuming all goes to plan, the Matildas will have the Tournament of Nations early next year, followed by the Women’s World Cup in June.
Fast forward again, and up comes the Olympic qualifier to reach Japan in 2020.
To be in the frame for selection going forwards, players will be keen to play as much football as possible — and the 12 round W-League season (plus finals) simply isn’t enough.
Therefore, a number of Matildas have elected to head overseas for the Australian winter — with many headed to the US.
Emily van Egmond has joined Orlando Pride and will return to the NWSL for the first time since 2014, when she played for Chicago. Between 2015 and 2017, she primarily played in Germany, first for FFC Frankfurt, then for VFL Wolfsburg. She looks set to join defender Alanna Kennedy at the Pride.
Midfielder Katrina Gorry last featured in the NWSL with FC Kansas City in 2014. She has now signed with their replacement, NWSL newcomers Utah Royals.
Caitlin Foord signed with Portland Thorns, but her recent foot surgery could disrupt her plans there. Dashing defender Ellie Carpenter has also joined the Thorns, while Hayley Raso is set to return to the club where she earned a NWSL championship in 2017.
A contingent of Matildas will also ply their trade at Seattle Reign. Steph Catley secured an off-season trade from Orlando and will join Melbourne City teammates Lydia Williams and Larissa Crummer on the west coast.
Meanwhile, with the Boston Breakers folding, Kyah Simon was drafted to Houston Dash. The forward had a year off the NWSL last season due to double shoulder surgery.
Elsewhere, star midfielder/defender Elise Kellond-Knight continues to ply her trade in Germany with FFC Turbine Potsdam.
The classy Matilda moved to the Frauen Bundesliga from Brisbane Roar in 2015 and has been a regular in the league since.
Yet to confirm their plans are the likes of Chloe Logarzo, Tameka Butt and Emily Gielnik, who all played in Europe last off-season. Matildas mainstays Lisa De Vanna, Clare Polkinghorne and Michelle Heyman are also yet to confirm their off-season intentions.
Finally on the player movement front, former Matilda and 10-year stalwart of the W-League Ash Sykes has announced her retirement last week.
Sykes, 26, who was coming off playing for Portland last NWSL season and Canberra United had previously won the Julie Dolan Medal in 2015-16 and was a two-time W-Leauge champion and premier.
MATILDAS FORWARD SET TO SWEAT ON SCANS
Melbourne City’s historic W-League triumph was bittersweet for Kyah Simon, who has suffered a hamstring injury which will see her miss the Algarve Cup.
Simon was forced off the field one hour into Sunday’s 2-0 grand-final win over her former club Sydney FC after feeling a pull in the hamstring that had been bothering her in training during the week.
It leaves the 26-year-old out of the tournament.
“If I had it my way I’d obviously still be on the plane to go it’s out of my control,” Simon told AAP on Monday.
“It just depends on how bad it is — if it’s over two or three weeks that rules me out.”
“It’s disappointing and bittersweet. We got the job done and I’m happy we won the championship.
“It’s an enormous achievement. I’m so proud of all the girls.”
The injury comes just as Simon was starting to enjoy injury-free football following double shoulder surgery and a long lay-off last year.
The striker will now focus on recovering in time for April’s Asian Cup in Jordan, which doubles as qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, as well as the team’s farewell game in Perth against Thailand and pre-tournament camps in Canberra.
“That’s the silver lining in the situation, that it’s the Algarve Cup,” she said.
“Obviously I want to play in it, but at the same time the biggest thing coming up is the Asian Cup and qualifiers.
“I was feeling really good but disappointed about another little injury.”
The immediate news was more positive for City teammate Lydia Williams. The first-choice Matildas goalkeeper required several minutes of medical treatment to her lower leg after successive collisions with Leena Khamis and Lisa De Vanna.
She was relieved to escape with a corked leg and had no doubt she’d be on the plane.
“It should be fine,” Williams said.
“It’s basically a bruise to the muscle rather than any kind of (structural) damage, so it should be pretty easy to ice and rest.”
— with AAP