If you’re looking for a confirmation of Sam Kerr’s next move in the future, you will have to wait awhile.
While her agent is out retweeting rumors on twitter, Kerr is tabling any discussion of her next move until her season is complete with the Chicago Red Stars. And she may end up staying in town after all— a revelation that may surprise some.
Red Stars head coach Rory Dames spoke briefly on his player-coach relationship with the star striker.
“The week after our last game, we knew we were starting the break,” Dames said. “Sam and I met for a good 90 minutes and talked about the future. It was a great conversation, and anybody who knows Sam, Sam’s as honest as they come. We went back and forth on a few different topics, things that might make sense, things that might not, and Sam and I agreed - that we both want to win the championship.
“So, until our season is done, we’re gonna put it on hold. But when the season is done, before any decisions get made, we’ll circle back and sit down together and see where we’re at.”
Since the World Cup, the Australian forwards’ star has risen to new heights, with rumored new deals tied to Europe, specifically English club Chelsea. However, Kerr has been steadfast in her commitment to staying focused on the season ahead of her, which is now coming to a head this Sunday in the form of a home semifinal.
Despite the late night rumbling on social media, Dames reiterates that his team and striker are on the same page: Chicago First.
“People can create their own narratives of what she wants,” said Dames. “but she hasn’t been giving those answers when she’s been asked in order to be evasive, but because her focus has been on this team, and what she’s doing.”
“Sam’s not going to answer those questions. She’s not going to tip her hand,” Dames elaborated. “She’s not going to commit to anything because she really does need to get away and talk with her family, think it through, see what makes the most sense, and digest any offers and figure out what’s best for her career. What kind of soccer does she want to play? Put all that stuff together and then make a decision, and it’s hard to do that when you’re chasing the championship.”
The recurring storyline has pushed NWSL into the spotlight again in regard to star players coming to a crossroads when it comes to their playing careers, with questions being asked about what a potential move like this could mean for the league moving forward. The league has seen the talent of Kim Little and the elite play of Amandine Henry only for them to depart back to Europe.
“When Sam makes a decision, her agency probably won’t be the first people to put it out. [It’ll be] the club that she agrees to terms with. Which will hopefully be us and Sam herself. It’s not going to be done by liking something via Twitter at 9 at night on a Thursday.”
It’s a unique player - coach relationship that Kerr and Dames have, built on transparency, honesty, and a bit of humor.
“I was very honest with Sam on this point when we met, if the comparison is $50,000 to $500,000 from this league to that league, then she needs to go,” quipped Dames. “She needs to go, and if anybody gets upset with me saying that, fair enough. But a professional athlete has a small window of time that they can play, let alone monetize themselves, and a professional female soccer player has an even smaller window.”
Dames says the league is good hands with the current ownership group, and believes they are working hard for next season to raise the standard once again in making sure players are playing in the best league in the world and compensated for doing so.
“There’s work being done behind the scenes to make sure that not only Sam, but other players of her quality can play in this league and be compensated appropriately, and there’s also stuff being worked behind the scenes to make sure that all the other 200 players who play in this league can also be compensated better and make it more worthwhile for them—not just living their dream of playing professionally— but compensated for it.”
“I think the owners in this league are all smart people,” said Dames. “They understand that they have to build [an] elite [league] correctly but they also know we got outbid for Little, we got outbid for Henry. We lost them out of the league. They are two outstanding players. So, to have somebody like Sam, if we want to be able to keep a player like Sam in this league then she needs to be compensated for what her value is. The owners know that and the league knows that.”
Ultimately, the conversation surrounding Kerr right now is just that, a conversation. There is a reason why she told local media in the mixed zone at the Red Stars’ final regular season game, “I don’t need to talk about that.” With the semifinals coming up in a few weeks, her focus was and is still solely on her current team and their potential for a championship.
“The conversation that Sam and I had is that she won’t be making any decision until the season is over and we will meet back up before that happens,” said Dames.
“I am hopeful that when the season is done and Sam and I sit down, that the league has facilitated a way to be able to compensate her to what her value is to keep her in the league, and I’m 100% confident that she will give the league a chance to do that within the time frame when she makes a decision.”