In one of the National Women’s Soccer League’s biggest offseason trades so far, the Chicago Red Stars acquired forward Kealia Ohai from the Houston Dash. Defender Katie Naughton and the 18th overall pick in the 2020 College Draft went the other way.
Ohai served as the Dash’s captain over the last three seasons and was the team’s leading goalscorer. She had spent the entirety of her career with the Dash after being drafted second in the 2014 College Draft. In a video message on Twitter, Ohai expressed a desire to improve herself for the move, implying she requested the trade after another season full of poor results for the Dash.
— Kealia Ohai (@KealiaOhai) January 6, 2020
“My goal is to become the very best player I can possibly be,” Ohai said. “I feel like, in order for that to happen, I need a new environment and I really appreciate the Dash’s support through this entire process.”
While the Dash are losing one its most important players, the team gains Naughton after she helped the Red Stars in their run to the NWSL Championship in 2019.
An Illinois native, Naughton was drafted by the Red Stars in 2016 and made 88 appearances during her four seasons with the club. Naughton was the Red Stars’ 2018 Defender of the Year.
“We are delighted to add Katie to the squad,” Dash head coach James Clarkson said in a statement issued by the club. “She brings a lot of quality and playoff experience. She will strengthen the team and help us continue to improve.”
The trade is the Red Stars’ second of the day, after first trading away the sixth overall College Draft pick to the North Carolina Courage for the 18th overall pick, which eventually went the Dash’s way.