Courage head coach Paul Riley confirmed to reporters Thursday at the 2020 NWSL Draft the club has Mace “under contract.” The club is expected to make an announcement soon.
“There was a lot of offers today for her,” Riley said. “People wanted to exchange picks for her and all of this stuff, but I really like Hailie and I think she’s going to be big for us. I think she’s got a great future with the team.”
Mace was drafted a year ago by Sky Blue FC out of UCLA, but refused to sign a contract with the club and instead spent 2019 playing abroad in Australia and Sweden. Last Friday, the Courage sent veteran midfielder McCall Zerboni and a 2021 fourth-round draft pick to Sky Blue in exchange for Mace’s rights.
“I think Mace was like having an extra draft pick for us,” Riley said. “She’s under contract. We’re excited to have her and I think she’s going to be really good for us. She’s a big-time player.”
In her year abroad, Mace, 22, scored four goals in 16 matches for FC Rosengard and once in two appearances for Melbourne City.
Mace played all over the pitch at UCLA, featuring as a forward and across the back-line. She started in 74 of the 79 games she appeared in for the Bruins, tallying 24 goals and 12 assists.
Riley said Thursday Mace wants to play centerback and that’s also where U.S. national team coach Vlatko Andonovski wants to see her play. Mace could fill in there while Abby Erceg and Abby Dahlkemper are away at the Olympics this summer.
The versatile Mace might immediately see playing time at right back while Merritt Mathias is still recovering from a torn ACL.
“With expansion coming next year, we’re preparing for that already,” Riley said. “But I think she can play fullback for us. Merritt Mathias won’t be ready for us at the start of the season so, she’s another one that we trust that can play in the wide areas. She can also play in the midfield for us. She can also play up front for us.”