Hey, Kansas City Current fans, say goodbye to this.
— KC Current (@thekccurrent) April 24, 2022
Today, the Current’s second-year player, Alex Loera, was traded to expansion side Bay FC, the new team from San Jose, CA. In return, KC receives $175,000 in allocation funds and (perhaps more significantly) protection from Bay FC in the upcoming expansion draft.
Despite her limited years as a professional, Loera was emerging as a star in her defensive midfield role for Kansas City. She was drafted as a defender and in fact was named the 2020 NCAA National Championship tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive player when her Santa Clara Broncos won the title.
While she’s had a few starts along KC’s defensive line, her true potential came to light when she shifted slightly forward on the pitch and began breaking down opposing defenses with her great vision and perfect touch on long passes. Here’s an example in what turned out to be her penultimate match with this team a few weeks ago.
— KC Current (@thekccurrent) October 8, 2023
In Kansas City’s surprise run to the NWSL Championship match in 2022, Loera started and played all but five minutes in the team’s three playoff games, including scoring the winning goal just four minutes into the semifinal against the OL Reign. Unfortunately, she dealt with some injury issues this year which caused her to miss more than half of the team’s matches. Once she returned to the lineup, she helped the team win five matches down the stretch in all competitions—a majority of the team’s victories on the season.
Again, it feels important to note what is likely one of the driving forces behind this trade—the NWSL’s brutal expansion draft set for December 15th. Each of the league’s 12 existing teams are set to lose two players apiece; one to each of the incoming squads: Bay FC and the Utah Royals. Expansion drafts aren’t necessarily uncommon in certain leagues, but what feels especially challenging in this one is that each team is only allowed to initially protect nine players plus any U-18 signings. For those of you currently scratching your heads, yes, a soccer team has 11 on the field and so each team can’t even protect their full starting lineups. By preemptively trading Loera to Bay FC, the Current know they are “only” going to likely lose one additional player.
There is also the possibility that, as the Current look to get healthier than they were at any point in 2023, midfield, and specifically defensive midfield, might begin to look rather crowded. The team finished the season with players like Desiree Scott, Morgan Gautrat, and Vanessa DiBernardo all on the injury report. When healthy, those are players who could potentially slot into a position similar to Loera’s. With that said, they each bring different skillsets and the argument could be made that Loera is a more valuable piece not only because of her passing skills, but also because of where she’s at in her career.
Clearly, Bay FC think highly enough of her to make her their first ever roster member. Additionally, San Jose is quite near to where Loera had success in college, so it’s a return home of sorts for her.
— Bay Football Club (@wearebayfc) November 15, 2023
One final element of this trade is the troubling pattern the Current seem to be creating in blindsiding their athletes with surprise trades. This happened last offseason when the team dealt Lynn Williams to Gotham FC (it worked out for her as she has just won the NWSL title with her new team) while she was abroad with the USWNT. And now the reports are suggesting that not only is this trade a shock to Loera, but the team had also actually suggested to her that she would be one of the protected nine. Not a good look for the squad or GM Camille Ashton.
UPDATE: The KC Soccer Journal reached out to the Kansas City Current to see if they had a comment or clarification on the Loera situation. The Current spokesperson stated they have no comment at this time. — Editor (Thad Bell)