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Abby Erceg describes emotional trade from Courage to Louisville

Abby Erceg has played for the Western New York Flash/North Carolina Courage since 2016. (Lewis Gettier/USA TODAY Sports)

When trades occur abruptly in the NWSL, sometimes the hardest part for players involved is what comes immediately after the phone call. The trade that sent longtime North Carolina Courage captain Abby Erceg to Racing Louisville alongside teammate Carson Pickett took both players by surprise, leaving them with little time to process their emotions.

“I think when [Pickett] and I both got off the call, my first reaction was to cry,” Erceg told the media after their first training in Louisville on Wednesday. “Because you don’t really know how to take that kind of news.”

Describing the following days as an emotional rollercoaster, Erceg and Pickett — who have a house together in North Carolina — quickly had to pack up and move to a new city. The only problem was that Racing Louisville’s preseason had already started.

“I was still in New Zealand when I found out,” Erceg said. “And then we learned that the team here is starting the Monday before I get back. So it’s just, you want to get with the team and you don’t want to be that player that turns up late and you’re just trying to get everything done.”

“I think as professional athletes, you have to understand that you can be traded at any point,” Pickett also told the media. “And so it was a shock, but I think that it was the timing, mainly because we wanted to be here, we wanted to be in Louisville with our new team, but because we kind of found out a little later, they had already started training for a couple days.”

For Pickett, getting traded wasn’t unfamiliar territory. Louisville will be the outside back’s fourth NWSL club after she spent two years in North Carolina. But Erceg had been with the Western New York Flash and then the rebranded Courage since the 2016 season, winning three Championships, three NWSL Shields and the 2022 Challenge Cup as captain of the squad. She and Pickett had anticipated being in North Carolina for a long time.

Erceg expressed her shock and disappointment on social media soon after the trade, which sent U.S. women’s national team defender Emily Fox to North Carolina in exchange for the players. A week earlier, the 33-year-old Erceg had criticized the club for its decision to trade 2021 Rookie of the Year candidate Diana Ordoónez to Houston on NWSL draft night.

“I think when you spend that long at a club, and you don’t get a chance to have the conversation about what your future looks like, it’s tough when you find out that kind of news,” Erceg said. “So there were definitely a lot of emotions initially.”

“I think I immediately felt the hurt that Abby felt, just for her because she had been there for so much longer. She was a captain and things like that,” Pickett echoed.

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Carson Pickett was named to the NWSL Best XI First Team while playing for the Courage in 2022. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Without much time to waste, Erceg and Pickett turned their attention to Louisville. Erceg said they relied on resources from the NWSL Players’ Association and new protections written into the league’s first collective bargaining agreement to help with the move.

Louisville also stepped right in to make the pair comfortable. Soon after the trade, the club put together a presentation for Erceg and Pickett to help them get acclimated to the area.

“It had everything you can possibly need,” Pickett said. “It had coffee shops, it had restaurants … housing, it had everything we needed to move. They made us feel so comfortable right away. And I think that honestly, when I got off that call, I was like, I’m ready to go. I don’t even need my couch, my bed. I’m just ready to be there.”

As they get settled into their new surroundings, both players are ready for a new chapter.

“I think soccer is kind of the place where you can just let go of those emotions,” Erceg said, emphasizing that the time to work through emotional upheaval is during the preseason process so that she can be ready to go when the season starts.

While Erceg still has many friends on the Courage, she already has her eye on Louisville’s first match against North Carolina, a club they have never beaten.

“I’ll be nervous, there’s no doubt about it,” she said. “It’ll be a tough game, but at the same time, do I want to beat them? 100 percent.”

Claire Watkins is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @ScoutRipley.

The Late Sub Podcast: Can the USWNT Medal?

The USWNT takes a silly face photo during their team Olympic photo shoot
The USWNT will begin their 2024 Olympic medal hunt on Thursday. (Brad Smith/ISI/Getty Images).

This week, JWS podcast host Claire Watkins discusses WNBA All-Star Weekend, which felt both like a celebration of the league's explosive growth over the past year and a way to set Team USA up for a particularly competitive Summer Olympics.

Later, Watkins previews the field for the upcoming Olympic soccer tournament, nominating her personal "Group of Death" and discussing whether or not the new-era USWNT could still reach medal contention despite their current rebuild under new head coach Emma Hayes.

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Team USA, Germany Play Pre-Olympic Exhibition Game in London

Team USA's 5x5 Basketball Team stands for the National Anthem before Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game
Team USA looks to rebound from Saturday's WNBA All-Star Game loss in an exhibition against Germany today. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

USA Basketball's 5x5 team will tip off in an exhibition against Germany in London this afternoon, getting in one last tune-up before the Summer Olympics begin.

The US is hunting an eighth-straight gold medal this year, with group stage play starting on July 29th.

Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to face Germany in pre-Olympic exhibition.
Team USA's Kahleah Copper, Alyssa Thomas, Kelsey Plum, and Sabrina Ionescu gear up to take on Germany in London. (Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

US to use All-Star loss as fuel

Coming off the weekend's All-Star Game loss, the Olympians are ready to repeat history: They earned their Tokyo gold medal immediately after losing the first Team USA vs. Team WNBA All-Star Game back in 2021.

Breanna Stewart, who led Team USA with a 31-point, 10-rebound double-double on Saturday, said that the defeat "is going to help us tremendously. We don’t get that many game opportunities, [and now] we can go back and watch the film and focus on how we can continue to be better."

Today’s tilt against Germany will see the US work to lock in their defense, particularly in the paint. They'll also lean into their positional versatility before heading to Paris.

WNBA pro Satou Sabally leads Team Germany in today's pre-Olympic exhibition game against Team USA.
WNBA pro Satou Sabally helped Germany to their first-ever Olympic berth. (Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Olympic debutants Germany enter first US clash

The exhibition marks the first-ever US-Germany linkup. The German team will make their Olympic debut in Paris after decades of failing to qualify for major international competitions. Their sixth-place 2023 EuroBasket finish sent them into February’s FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where they punched their ticket to the 2024 Games.

Leading Germany's run was two-time WNBA All-Star Satou Sabally, who put up career-high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals with Dallas last season. Her 20-point, 11-rebound double-double was the difference-maker in Germany's must-win 73-71 Olympic qualifying victory over Brazil.

Other German players to watch include 2022 NY Liberty draft-pick — and Sabally's sister — Nyara Sabally, along with Liberty sharpshooter Leonie Fiebich.

Where to watch the Team USA vs. Germany game

Today’s exhibition tips off at 3 PM ET with live coverage on FS1.

1v1 With Kelley O’Hara: USWNT Star Jaedyn Shaw Is Expecting “Dubs All Around”

retired uswnt star kelley o'hara interviewing san diego wave and uswnt forward jaedyn shaw
'1v1' is back with Jaedyn Shaw joining Kelley O'Hara for a conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics. (Just Women's Sports)

In the latest episode of Just Women's Sports' 1v1 With Kelley O'Hara, San Diego Wave and USWNT star Jaedyn Shaw joins two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Kelley O'Hara for a one-on-one conversation about the upcoming Paris Olympics.

We hear from the 19-year-old Wave FC phenom about her first impressions of new USWNT coach Emma Hayes, her experience with international competition at this point in her young career, and how she's preparing to take on the 2024 Summer Games.

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The 91st: Complete USWNT & Olympic Soccer Preview Featuring Jess McDonald

Logo for JWS USWNT Olympic show The 91st
The latest season of JWS' awarding-winning Olympics show 'The 91st' premieres today. (Just Women's Sports)

We're back! Hosts Jordan Angeli, Duda Pavao, and retired USWNT forward Jess McDonald deliver a full preview of this year's Olympic soccer tournament in Paris.

Watch for full analysis of USWNT manager Emma Hayes's coaching style, this team's shifting identity in this new USWNT era, and a projected starting XI for the team's group stage opener against Zambia. The 91st hosts also break down all three Olympic groups — including top players and teams to track throughout the tournament — plus give their predictions for the medal rounds and individual awards.

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