How the NWSL expansion draft works
The GIST: The NWSL’s two-team expansion draft kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. ET, providing the league’s incoming squads — Bay FC and the Utah Royals — an opportunity to fill their rosters with current NWSL players ahead of their upcoming inaugural season.
How it works: As determined by random selection, Bay FC has the first pick and will alternate with the Royals from there, with both squads going back and forth through 12 rounds, until each team has up to 12 players.
- However, these expansion teams can’t just take any player they fancy. Ahead of the draft, seven NWSL clubs made trades with Bay FC and the Royals in exchange for full protection of the rest of their rosters.
- The league’s other five teams released their “protected” lists on Wednesday, which name the nine players who are not available for selection. And finally, all free agents (of which there are many) cannot be chosen.
- Even with these restrictions, there are still countless talented footballers for the new clubs to choose from. May the odds be ever in everyone’s favor.
Zooming out: There were just eight NWSL teams prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number that will swell to 14 when Bay FC and the Royals officially join the fray next year, plus, at least one more squad (Boston) is on its way in 2026.
- The league’s growth is beyond impressive, creating more and more opportunities for women to compete with each new season. Just the beginning.