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NWSL releases official rules for 2021 expansion draft

San Diego, Angel City know the road in front of them.

San Diego NWSL head coach Casey Stoney.
Courtesy of San Diego NWSL

The NWSL announced the details surrounding the 2021 expansion draft rules and details, which will help 2022 expansion teams San Diego and Angel City FC stock their rosters for their inaugural seasons.

The expansion draft, which is scheduled for December 16, will feature two teams making selections for the first time in league history. The nine existing teams that will participate in the draft will have to make their lists of protected and unprotected players available by December 10, with teams able to protect nine players, including one U.S. allocated player (which is a U.S. international, basically). Kansas City, however, will not participate in the expansion draft because they got that agreement from the league when they agreed to move the team for this season.

San Diego and Angel City won’t be required to select nine players, but they can select as many as one player from each team participating. In those nine selections, they can take one U.S. allocated player, but they can also pass on that option and take $150,000 in allocation money instead. If they pick an allocated player, the team losing the player would get the $150,000. And the expansion teams can pass on selections, particularly if they have a handshake or formal agreement not to select a player from the team as part of a side deal, something Angel City already has in place with Racing Louisville in order to acquire Christen Press.

One additional key rule in the upcoming expansion draft is that the expansion teams can also only pick one player per team per position group. So if Angel City take a midfielder from OL Reign, San Diego can still take a player from OL Reign, but not a midfielder from them.

On top of the expansion draft news, the league also announced that they will increase the number of international slots next year to five per team, something that has been requested around the league for some time. In addition, San Diego NWSL announced they’ve hired Vanessa Shay as their chief revenue officer on Wednesday. Shay had previously been with AEG since 2008, and is respected in the field.

So, we’ve still yet to hear of a permanent name and crest for San Diego’s team. If they want that in place for the 2022 season, they should be announcing that before too long here. Otherwise, we’ll keep you posted on NWSL coming to California in a real way before long!

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