Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan is one of the most recognizable female soccer players in the world. Playing in the fledgling National Women's Soccer League, she would seem to be untouchable -- one of the rare talents who can draw a national spotlight for both herself, her team and the small-but-ambitious league.

Yet the Portland Thorns, by several measures the most thriving of the NWSL's nine -- soon to be 10 -- teams, is handing Morgan over to an expansion team, the Orlando Pride. Which begs the question: What is Portland thinking?

If you ask Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl, who first reported the trade, the explanation is simple: Morgan wanted to play in the same city as her husband, Servando Carassco, a starting defensive midfielder for Major League Soccer's Orlando City. She requested the trade from Portland, and the team granted it.

In return, the Thorns are going to get a nice compensation package: USWNT fullback Meghan Klingenberg, two roster spots allocated to international players, and the top pick in the NWSL draft. That's not bad, but it's a mere consolation prize in exchange for the best player in soccer.

Wahl argues that the move is actually better than it looks, particularly for the NWSL as a whole. The Thorns are the league's leaders in average attendance by an enormous margin, and that's not because of Morgan: Portland is a rabid soccer city that has embraced the professional women's franchise. Even with Morgan shipping out, local support is not going to wane. Portland will continue to draw the strongest crowds in the league.

But Morgan could be very useful to the Orlando Pride, which will start play in 2016 and will be building its fan base from the ground up. The introduction of a widely known star could help draw crowds and encourage local embrace of the team. For the NWSL, Morgan's relocation could be the catalyst for a successful expansion project.

Servando Carrasco

If Portland had come to the conclusion that trading Morgan would be best for the franchise, that would be one thing. There's an obvious argument to be made that all parties could end up benefiting from the trade.

But, as Wahl points out, the Thorns did not pursue this trade on their own.

"According to sources with knowledge of the deal, Portland would not have agreed to trade Morgan unless she had made her request for personal reasons," Wahl writes.

Considering the impetus for this blockbuster trade, the handling of Morgan has a much different look to it than what we've seen in men's sports. Would the Oklahoma City Thunder ever trade Kevin Durant just to unite him in the same city as his partner? Would the NFL's Green Bay Packers ship Aaron Rodgers off to San Diego so he could play closer to Hollywood, where his actress girlfriend Olivia Munn plies her trade?

It's a laughable proposition, and one that raises interesting questions about the NWSL. For starters, is the league taking itself seriously enough by letting its premier player dictate where she will play? If Carrasco is traded to another MLS team -- and it's more likely a matter of when as Orlando City is his fourth MLS team since 2011 -- should we assume Morgan's trade request is not far behind?

And what does it say about the stature of female soccer players compared to their male counterparts? Why is Morgan being relocated for Carrasco when she makes nearly 10 times more in salary than her husband -- and that doesn't count endorsements and money from the USWNT?

Morgan's moving to Orlando might be a good thing for the NWSL, which will continue to have a strong base of support in Portland. But the league might also want to consider the message it sends when a player's personal life can so easily alter the makeup of a franchise. Yes, it's nice that Morgan was accommodated, and we all wish our employers were so accommodating of personal matters.

But is that the sort of precedent the NWSL wants to set? And what should soccer fans make of such a move?

Tough questions without any answers. But I'll say this: Until this week, I would never have told you that Servando Carrasco carried more clout than Alex Morgan.

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U.S. Women's World Cup Hometown Craft Beers

 

Shannon Boxx

Shannon Boxx, M, Redondo Beach, Calif. Absolution Brewing Co. in Torrance is barely a year old. It also produces root beer and cream soda in addition to its alcoholic brew, which all carry religious monikers. Cardinal Sin Crimson Ale, Purgatory Hefeweizen and Sinner Stout are just the beginning.

 

Morgan Brian

Morgan Brian, M, St. Simon's Island, Ga. There isn't a single brewery in St. Simon’s Island, and there aren't many near it. But head north to Savannah, Georgia, and you'll find Moon River Brewing Company, a brewery that claims its building is haunted. Watch out for "Toby."

 

Lori Chalupny

Lori Chalupny, D, St. Louis It's almost impossible to pick just one brewery that represents the St. Louis area. The leader in St. Louis' craft beer movement, however, is almost certainly Schlafly -- the guys and girls at Schlafly market the company as "The Saint. Louis Brewery" with no (visible) apology to Anheuser-Busch. The company took a major step last October when it expanded sales the Chicago area.

 

Whitney Engen

Whitney Engen, D, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif. Strand Brewing Co. resides in Torrance, five miles from Engen's hometown. The six-year-old brewery recently earned the 2015 Small Business of the Year Award for the 66th assembly district. Strand hasn't brewed many super adventurous beers, but judging by its success, it doesn't really need one.

 

Ashlyn Harris

Ashlyn Harris, GK, Satellite Beach, Fla. Approximately six miles from Harris' hometown and on the opposite side of the Indian River sits the Intracoastal Brewing Co. It features Shellfish Warning Saison!, a stout brewed with Florida panhandle oysters, and Black and Blue Porter, a blueberry porter. According to Florida Today, more than 1,000 patrons at its 2013 opening consumed 212 total gallons. Don't worry about doing the math -- it's more than 2,261 12-ounce servings.

 

Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath, M, Basking Ridge, N.J. Trap Rock Restaurant and Brewery in Berkeley Heights is approximately eight miles from Heath's hometown. Unfortunately, part of the building was damaged in April after a brewing tank ruptured. This place is certainly one of the more upscale craft breweries and restaurants in New Jersey.

 

Lauren Holiday

Lauren Holiday, M, Indianapolis Sun King Brewing Co., located in downtown Indianapolis, has produced at least 185 beers, according to its beer list. Its Lonesome Dove and Barrel Aged Batch 666: Sympathy for the Devil earned gold and silver medals respectively at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

 

Julie Johnston

Julie Johnston, D, Mesa, Ariz. Desert Eagle Brewing Co. is yet another young brewery on our list. Founded in 2011, Desert Eagle resides on Main Street in Mesa and boasts weekly live music and a handful of beers with bird references in their monikers. No birds were harmed in the making of the beer.

 

Meghan Klingenberg

Meghan Klingenberg, D, Gibsonia, Pa. Gibsonia is just 16 miles from Pittsburgh, and the Steel City is home to Church Brew Works, a brewery literally housed in a former church. Church won the Great American Beer Festival's 2012 Large Brewpub of the Year Award. No word on if the holy nature of its operation had any effect on the judges.

 

Ali Krieger

Ali Krieger, D, Dumfries, Va. Voted 2015 Best Local Brewery in the D.C. area by the Washington City Paper, Port City Brewing Company is 27 miles from Krieger's hometown. The brewery and Pacers Running, an East Coast-based shoe store, host a "Joggers and Lagers" event most Mondays throughout the summer, where attendees can jog a pre-determined route and subsequently feel less guilty about consuming craft beer.

 

Sydney Leroux

Sydney Leroux, F, Phoenix Phoenix is loaded with craft breweries, and Sun Up Brewing Co. is one of the best. Uwe Boer is the head brewmaster at Sun Up and was touted as the "olliest man in brewing" by the Phoenix New Times in 2012. Hefty praise, sure, but if there's one word you'd want the man brewing your beer to be described as, it might as well be jolly.

 

Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, M, Delran, N.J. Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant is six miles from Lloyd’s hometown, but has 11 total locations in the northeastern United States. Despite being a chain, its beers frequently earn medals at both the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Its Russian Imperial Stout has won six combined gold medals between both events.

 

Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan, F, Diamond Bar, Calif. Sanctum Brewing Co. in Ponoma has a number of interesting beers on top. Newtonian was brewed with honey and fiji apples. Leftovers was brewed with leftover grains, wheat and cranberries. But the most adventurous of all their brews is Hamish the Red, an imperial red ale brewed with turnips. Turnips.

 

Alyssa Naeher

Alyssa Naeher, GK, Bridgeport, Conn. – Two Roads Brewing lies only four miles from Naeher’s home of Bridgeport. Two Roads boasts some pretty memorable beer labels, the most impressive of which is the barrel-aged version of their Route of All Evil Black Ale. The menacing looking chili pepper on the label boasts that the beer was aged with hot peppers, which is surprisingly not a rare occurrence in the craft beer world.

 

Kelley O'Hara

Kelley O'Hara, D, Fayetteville, Ga. Approximately 14 miles from Fayetteville sits Jailhouse Brewing Co., a brewery housed in an old jail. The names of the beers are exactly what you'd expect: Misdemeanor Ale, Mugshot IPA, Breakout Stout, Conjugal Visit Imperial Red Ale.

 

Heather O’Reilly

Heather O’Reilly, M, East Brunswick, N.J. Triumph Brewing Co. in Princeton is one of two of the brewery's locations. It features an Oatmeal Cream Porter, which sounds like an incredibly good beer to cap a meal with. Plus, it's pouring $3 pints during an U.S. Women's matches!

 

Christen Press

Christen Press, F, Palos Verdes Estates, Calif. The Dudes Brewing Co. in Torrance, like any good craft brewery, has a number of unique beers on tap. Grandma's Pecan, an English style, is brewed with pecans, as you might expect. Juicebox Series, which features an orange having a jolly good time on its label, is brewed with cocoa nibs vanilla beans and blood oranges. Odd combo.

 

Christie Rampone

Christie Rampone, D, Point Pleasant, N.J. Rinn Duin Brewery of Toms River officially opened in 2014. The brewery is named after an Irish castle, and has numerous Irish- and English-inspired beers. All of the beers on the menu are described as either Irish, English or Scottish style, and can only be found in New Jersey.

 

Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe, M, Redding, Calif. Wildcard Brewing Co. was founded by husband and wife Jeff and Jenny Hansen. Many of their beers have luck or gambling-themed names, like Double Down, Dumb Luck, Liar’s Dice and Shot in the Dark. It's fitting considering the brewery's name and the amount of risk the Hansens took in opening a brewery in the first place.

 

Amy Rodriguez

Amy Rodriguez, F, Lake Forest, Calif. California boasts the most natives on the roster. Luckily for us, California is home to approximately more than 550 craft breweries. Tustin Brewing Co. in nearby Tustin opened in 1996. It brews fairly basic beer, but its Golden Spike Light Ale and Blimp Hangar Porters are former medalists at the Great American Beer Festival.

 

Becky Sauerbrunn

Becky Sauerbrunn, D, St. Louis, Mo. Good thing the team has more than one player from St. Louis, because the home of the Cardinals has so, so many breweries worth mentioning. 4 Hands Brewing Co. is only four years old, yet its beer list is stacked. One of the more interesting brews is Ca$h Mony, an Imperial IPA brewed with what Four Hands calls a "wasteful" amount of hops.

 

Hope Solo

Hope Solo, GK, Richland, Wash. Founded in 2010, White Bluffs Brewery in Richland doesn't really have an "out there" beer. However, itsRed Alt took home a Great American Beer Award in 2014. In fact, Red Alt has earned a number of awards, and is a two-time champion of the German Hybrid Beers Division of the Washington Beer Awards.

 

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach, F, Rochester, N.Y. Rohrbach Brewing Co. is a 24-year-old company in Wambach's hometown. The long-time New York brewery has donated more than $500,000 to Rochester charities over its lifetime. Recently, Rohrbach rolled out the first beer in its Neoteric Series, an India Pale Lager with orange and grapefruit.

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