According to a report from The Equalizer on Wednesday, midfielder Morgan Brian is, after a mutual agreement between her and the club, leaving Olympique Lyon just one season into her two-and-a-half year contract with the team.
Chicago dealt for Brian’s rights late in the 2017 season NWSL season, sending the recently-acquired Kristie Mewis to the Houston Dash, and tying in future considerations if Brian ended up beginning the 2018 season in the NWSL (as she did not, those considerations are now void).
Upon her arrival in France, Brian found some playing time, but didn’t feature in any of Lyon’s Champion’s League fixtures (including the final) despite officially being healthy and available for many of those matches.
Lyon’s manager, Reynald Pedros cited Brian’s lack of consistent playing time in the months leading up to her joining the squad in January of 2018 as a major factor in her ultimate production, but regardless of how the stint in France turned out, she is heading back to the States and the Chicago Red Stars own her rights.
This opens up a wealth of scenarios for Chicago. They could hold on to her, waive one piece of their midfield depth, and play her as much as possible considering her relative fragility when it comes to time on the pitch. They could also use her as trade bait for a number of other teams in the league who might be interested in giving up a portion of their defense (Chicago’s weakest area on paper) to get a shot at a talent that anchored the USA’s World Cup winning run in 2015.
No matter what, Chicago should come out gangbusters in the conclusion of her re-assignment (#scamgang strong), and I trust that the front office won’t take a deal that would weaken the Red Stars while giving too much too their main opposition. Right now the teams that would probably be interested in making a deal are Utah, Seattle, or Orlando, and none of those teams currently have pieces that would sufficiently turn Chicago’s season around in return for Brian’s potential.
No matter what, the Red Stars won out once again in an offseason move, and whether they hold on to her or cut her loose in return for someone else, a successful return from Brian is what many NWSL (and USWNT) fans would love to see sooner rather than later.