By: Hal Kaiser
The Houston Dash and Reign FC have concluded a trade that completes a significant makeover for the Houston based side. After trading captain Kealia Ohai to Chicago last month, co-captain Amber Brooks is headed to Seattle along with Sofia Huerta. The Dash will receive forward Shea Groom. center back Megan Oyster and a conditional 2022 2nd round draft pick.
The trade has been in the works since prior to draft day last month, and looked to be completed in the days following draft day with Oyster and another player coming to Houston. However, the trade fell apart and had to be rebuilt in the ensuing weeks.
Brooks has been an iron woman for the Dash, starting and playing the full 90 minutes in each of the past three seasons. After coming to the Dash via trade from Seattle Reign prior to the 2016 season, she made 19 appearances in her first season, including 11 starts, playing as a a holding midfielder in a crowded midfield that included Morgan Brian, Andressinha and Carli Lloyd.
Once Brooks made the transition to center back in 2017, her place in the starting lineup was cemented. She became the rock around which the back line was built. Time and again she came to the rescue when the midfield in front of her or other defenders around her broke down.
The center back made 91 of her 123 NWSL appearances with Houston, and earned the co-captainship, wearing the armband when Ohai was not on the pitch. She returns to the Seattle/Tacoma area where she spent one season under Laura Harvey in 2015, arguably her most frustrating season in the league playing in only 12 games and earning only 4 starts.
Huerta heads to Reign FC after one and a half seasons with Houston after arriving in the trade that sent Christen Press back to Chicago after her ill-fated acquisition on 2018 draft day. After a phenomenal first season with the team in which she scored 5 goals and added 4 assists in 12 games, the forward/midfielder requested a trade during 2018-2019 the off-season.
She later rescinded that trade request, but got off to a relatively slow start in 2019. Post-Women’s World Cup, however, Huerta was again firing on all cylinders and finished the season with 5 goals and 4 assists again, this time with 24 appearances.
The Dash receive Oyster as a straight swap for Brooks at center back. She was a 2nd round pick of the Washington Spirit in the 2015 NWSL College Draft, featuring in their back line for two seasons before heading to Boston for a year and then getting selected by Reign FC with pick number 3 in the 1st round of the Boston Breakers Dispersal Draft. During her time in the Seattle/Tacoma area, she was a steady presence starting 20 games in each of her two seasons with the team.
Groom, a Texas A&M grad, returns to the area where she spent her college years. She was drafted in the 2nd round by FC Kansas City in 2015, spent three years with them followed by a season with Sky Blue and last year with Reign FC. Her most productive year in the league came in 2016, when she scored 8 goals in 19 starts. Over the course of her five seasons, she has a total of 21 goals and 11 assists.
For the Dash, after a 2019 season without a lot of turnover, the team is undergoing a bit of a makeover. The trading away of Brooks and Ohai appears to symbolize rebuilding the team around a new core very much centered on Rachel Daly. However, in order for the team to improve over 2019, more talent is going to be required. The team has approximately a month to make moves happen, including utilizing their full suite of international slots.