Bailey: Next step is free agency, supplemental draft

Jeff Kassouf January 18, 2013 17

NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey. (Photo Copyright: Patricia Giobetti |

INDIANAPOLIS — Looks like NWSL free agency is set to move forward — with a lot less emphasis on the “free” for a good number of players.

With the exception of the Western New York Flash, which has 10 players, each team now has 11 players on its preliminary roster after drafting four each during Friday’s college draft. Roster sizes will be 20 players per team.

The final pieces of the puzzle, as reported Thursday on The Equalizer, will include teams signing four free agents each and then identifying 8-10 players for the supplemental draft. That supplemental draft will fill out the final five-to-six roster spots on each team.

“The next thing is to sign four additional players and then have a supplemental draft,” NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey said.

“Right now they have seven players for most teams, they have four college players. They have the opportunity to find four more additional players and then go into a supplemental draft.”

By a numbers game, that supplemental draft would put every team at 20 players and exclude some players from getting to play anywhere.

“If you’re not identified after that process, then you have the opportunity for discovery players.”

There is a maximum of four “discovery players” — those identified by individual teams but not entered into the supplemental draft — per team.

International players can fit into any of the aforementioned categories, but only two players per team can come from outside of the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

Additionally, a league schedule could be released as early as Feb. 1. Opening day is expected to be April 13.

  • I was never good at trigonometry. Anyway, here’s to hoping as many players can stay local as possible.

  • Diane (DeeG)

    Does that mean teams get 4 FA and can then identify 4 more players that are not in the supplemental draft for a total of 8 undrafted players? I’m not seeing what is so bad about this supplemental draft..anyone care to show me the other side?

    • Diane – what’s wrong with it is simple – if you are not signed as a free agent – then you get allocated to a team. You have no say in where it is geographically or if you will have a decent chance to play. And finally, you either sign with that team for what they are offering, or you don’t play. This systems only treats the four players per team as “free agents”, the other players become allocated not free.

      • Diane (DeeG)

        Thanks, Gerry. An estimated 80 players to fill 60 spots still means many will not get to play. And there is no mention of trade rules in any of this, maybe these are the players they can trade with? At any rate, we knew not every player would get on a team. Is this also a way of managing salaries to stay under cap? And the discovery players..wouldn’t they also be a sort of free agent chosen by the respective team? It seem convoluted to me b/c I don’t understand why teams would agree to all this ‘management’. In the end, 160 players will get to be pros. That was all that was ever promised.

        • Steglitz49

          “Discovery players”? What are the “discovery players” when they are not at home? If they are not playing for the NTs or in a foreign league, who are they?

          I agree with you that this is micromanagement we can do without, but power goes to the head of some.

    • randomhookup

      The league isn’t going to pay free agents a lot and instead of giving them the choice of where to sign, they are pushing them through a draft. Now they may have to go across country to a city they have never lived rather than sign with a team & coach they know (many have played with the Breakers, DCUW, WNY & know how they fit in). They may only be able to afford to play in the league by staying close to home & working the part time job they already have.

      And there is no guarantee the FAs will make the final roster. To me, it’s just too much work. They have had an allocation & a college draft. Let the teams fill out the rest of their roster spots. Because of the salary cap, there is only so much these teams can do to get good players & this adds an extra burden (and the extra cost of traveling players to their new location).

      Give the remaining players some power and let the teams sort it out like in any other league. Everything going centrally really takes away the competitive recruiting advantages of the teams and coaches.

  • StarCityFan

    Still don’t like this. The league is potentially asking the players least in a position to do so to move clear across the country to play “professional” soccer for less than a living wage. If we’re talking WNT bubble players, that’s one thing, but these are players who are unlikely to get that far.

    • StarCityFan


    • Steglitz49

      An excellent point. The US having 24 players in their DP pool (23 assigned so far), it is difficult to see any of these players being a “bubble” player given how many good American ladies ply their trade abroad in fine leagues.

      The league now goes back into hibernation as far as the general public is concerned. The Algarve Cup is in the wrong time zone. The league must start with a bang. Tons of goals in the first couple of rounds, please.

      This supplementary draft is daft. The organizers have megalomania and delusions of grandeur. This is not sharing out Ms Morgan and Sinclair equitably between teams. This is micromanagement we can do without.

  • Elizabeth

    My question is, what will be the order of this FA draft? I think it needs to be a random, reversing the order after each round.

    I sure hope in future years we won’t have these drafts and allocations (only a college draft). If it is just a 1st year thing to even out the teams then I guess I am okay with it. I just wish the players had more of a choice.

  • LetsGetReal

    This is absolutely ridiculous. Even though clear consensus is that FAs will flock to Seattle and Portland, but look at Chicago Red Stars, Boston Breakers, WNY Flash, Sky Blue FC, Washington Spirit that all have tons of “local”/”previous” talent that would easily fit into their team that obviously are living together already, have other jobs, etc.

  • palifan

    I don’t like these rules any more than anyone else, but obviously the league/team owners have all the power. The non-NT players have none. And until the teams can make a profit, that will not change. Without team owners willing to lose money and US Soccer willing to take a risk on a new league, there would be no league. As fans, we just need to support the league we have for now and hope it thrives.

    • Steglitz49


      Ladies’ football the world over is subsidized. Those who pay the pipers call the tune. The paymasters vary from shore to shining shore.

      If everyone takes one friend along to each match, much will be achieved. To get sponsors to open their wallets, there must be bums on seats. Football is a simple game. It requires little equipment apart from a ball. That is why it conquered the world. The downside is that there are no natural manufacturers to support it.

  • leftbacklion

    A roster = 20 players? Maybe I’m not understanding the article. You need 22 players to scrimmage. Are the club teams going to need to scrimmage against local college teams? If anyone understands differently, please enlighten me.

    • Steglitz49

      I think they are using the terms sloppily. As you type, at least 22 are needed to to practice. For the world cup you may bring 22 players but for the Olympics only 18. I think that is what “roster” refers to in this case.

      To “scrimmage” is not an obvious soccer term. It seems more at home in rugby and grid-iron — don’t they have scrimmage machines etc?

      • randomhookup

        The squad limit (at least of active players) is set at 20 for the NWSL. “Scrimmage” probably did derive from rugby, but, to us Yanks, simply means practicing in something like game conditions (11v11).

  • FlashFan

    20 players, except for WNY which will only be allowed 19 as per NWSL rules