ACFC's Paige Nielsen headed to Houston in surprising last-minute trade

Nielsen has been a rock on defense; the last thing ACFC fans wanted or expected was to see her traded
Paige Nielsen at Angel City FC Media Day
Paige Nielsen at Angel City FC Media Day / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The notoriously swole, always flexing, fan favorite, Paige Nielsen was transferred from Angel City (ACFC) to the Houston Dash at the 11th hour of the transfer window, and unsurprisingly the people are rioting.

"Bad move, ACFC." "I'm beyond devastated." "Why?!?!" "Everyone hates this trade." Just a sampling of fan reactions on social media.

And that's excluding the most emphatic responses that lean heavily on profanity to express their outrage.

Paige Nielsen has been with ACFC since its inception, selected in the 2022 expansion draft. She came to ACFC fresh off an NWSL Championship with the Washington Spirit. As a stalwart player and congenial teammate who embodied ACFC's vision and ideals, she helped shape the fledgling club.

Her unwavering reliability on defense combined with her well-oiled center-back partnership with Sarah Gorden have made her indispensable. Or so we thought.

Change in ACFC trade policy leaves Page Nielsen unprotected

ACFC has always prided itself on being different. Part of what made the club stand out in the early days was a no-trade policy that ensured players had job stability and would only be traded if the players themselves asked to leave.

Unfortunately for Nielsen, her LA based sister, and the fans, this policy is no longer in place.

While as far as I know no one's come right out and said it, the assumption is Nielsen was happy and thriving at ACFC with no desire to leave.

Like it or not, Paige Nielsen has a one-way ticket to Houston and ACFC is pocketing $50,000 in allocation money and $50,000 in transfer funds.

Nielsen's departure (along with ACFC midfielder Amandine Henry headed to the Utah Royals) frees up cap and roster space, part of which will likely allow the return of USWNT forward Christen Press, two years and 4 surgeries later.

Though everyone with two thumbs and access to social media made their disappointment regarding the transfer known, Nielsen herself was gracious in her public response thanking ACFC, her teammates, and fans for the time and memories shared before turning the focus to her new future with the Dash.

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Lucky for Houston, they're gaining a pair of well-defined biceps, a proven talent, and a handful of LA Paige Nielsen supporters who are so up in arms they're switching club allegiances.