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The Lowdown: NWSL Expansion Draft rules finally coming to light

Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer

There has never been a National Women’s Soccer League game played in California. That will change next spring when Angel City FC and the as yet unbranded club in San Diego enter the fray as expansion clubs. The teams have been busy making front office hires and San Diego already has a head coach, former English international and Manchester United manager Casey Stoney. And as reported here and elsewhere, Angel City have been in negotiations with Racing Louisville about acquiring Christen Press. But what about the expansion draft?

The 2021 NWSL Expansion Draft is expected to happen Dec. 16. That is less than five months away. And no one seems to know what the rules are. The National Hockey League has far more complex roster and salary scenarios, but that league’s recent expansion draft had its rules in place more than two years ahead of time.

An NWSL spokesperson confirmed that Expansion Draft rules were an agenda item during a Tuesday board meeting. Other sources confirmed that the rules were passed and teams will be permitted to protect nine players, and possibly as few as one U.S allocated player among those. From the remaining contracted players, each expansion club would be allowed to select one per team. It was not immediately clear if teams could pull back additional players after losing their first.

There is also a twist. Kansas City will not be subjected to losing any players to this round of expansion. That clause was negotiated into the agreement when the Longs purchased the franchise vacated by Utah Royals FC.

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