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Future of allocated NWSL players still fluid

Canada coach John Herdman is likely to make several changes as to which players receive federation funding to play in the NWSL in 2014. (Photo copyright Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

The inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season wraps up this weekend and the championship looms; it’s only two weeks away.

Yet how allocated players — those from the United States (22 after Heather Mitts’ retirement, with some who never played this season), Canada (16) and Mexico (12) who are funded by those federations — will be dealt with going into next season can be summed up in three letters: TBD.

Plans for how to treat the fluid offseason are, well, fluid. There is sure to be some shuffling of which players receive federation funding — contracts that aren’t paid for by the club or held against the team’s cap space (NWSL’s version of MLS’ Designated Player, of sorts, but with a federation footing the bill for salary).

U.S. national team contracts are for two years, according to sources, but a league spokesman said they include options for Year 2. Asked whether the option to take action rests in the hands of players, teams or if it’s a mutual option, the spokesman said that is still being worked out.

That’s consistent with what NWSL executive director Cheryl Bailey told The Equalizer in June, when she indicated that which players being allocated could change (and based on performance and absences, those could be drastic for Canada and Mexico, respectively).

Sources also tell The Equalizer that teams will not be forced to give up players they drafted and developed if their status is boosted — so if Kristie Mewis, for example, became an allocated U.S. player, FC Kansas City wouldn’t have to give her up just because they already have their allotment of three U.S. players (Barnhart, Holiday and Sauerbrunn). Essentially (and, to stress, unofficially), that would be a way to grandfather players in.

What also seems to be fluid is the August 15th deadline to pick up player options, which was originally worked into player contracts. The Equalizer can confirm that multiple players were notified that the date to decide on whether or not to have their options executed has been pushed back to September.

For now, it’s wait and see.

***Additional reporting from Dan Lauletta.

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