Racing Louisville has already gotten started building their inaugural roster, but tonight’s 2020 NWSL Expansion Draft will constitute the most significant steps they take towards putting their squad together for 2021 and beyond.
From a Washington Spirit perspective, there are dual purposes to follow along tonight: there’s the bad news (Louisville is going to select some good players, and the Spirit can’t do much of anything to stop them), but there’s also the prospect of the newcomers picking a player and then trading them elsewhere. Elsewhere could mean here! Expansion drafts are nothing if not chaotic.
Scroll down for the basic info you need to watch. Our most recent updates will live up here!
8:18pm (André): I was well-prepared for pain so I am kinda riding a bit of a high right now. Losing players this way is never fun and Lund and McClure will be missed. Drafts are cold things, but from an analysis standpoint the Spirit weren’t hurt nearly as much as they could have been. I imagine this doesn’t change any of the recruiting efforts that may have been put on hold until after the draft. All systems go now, let’s see what Steve and Richie can do to add to a solid core of talent.
Now, what to do with my emotional support cookies. Call them celebration cookies and eat them all anyway? Yes! Yes.
8:01pm (Jason): I’m gonna go get myself a fresh beer. Normally I’d think this is recklessly tempting the fates, but the NWSL trade window is closed! For several more hours!
The trade window opens tomorrow and Portland and Utah are about to get $75,000 respectively to use as they see fit, including on a top draft pick in the college draft. Wild.— Sandra ⚽️ (@SandHerrera_) November 13, 2020
7:58pm (André): Can’t believe they actually did it! I’m definitely not the first one to say this but I also don’t think Press and Heath will play with Racing Louisville. I think this is setup perfectly to squeeze as much as you can out of Angel City before Press and Heath reach the end of their Manchester United contracts.
7:53pm (Jason): And Louisville finishes up by taking the NWSL rights to Press, as Meg Linehan reported. That means they’re done for the night. Early in this I thought the picks were mostly within what I expected, even if my guesses didn’t exactly line up with Racing’s actual selections, but we ended up quite far apart by the end.
7:49pm (Jason): Tobin Heath has in fact been selected by Louisville. Or rather, her NWSL rights, which are not something you can put on the field. Louisville can’t select any more Thorns now, and they turn down $75,000 in allocation money to do it. Big, big gamble. I’m not sure I’d have gone this route, especially given how strong the Portland unprotected contingent is.
7:47pm (André): Few headscratchers here, particularly in Washington’s favor, but so far Racing Louisville looks like they’ll have an extremely formidable midfield in Jennifer Cudjoe and Lauren Milliet.
7:40pm (André): Your prayers and dark magic worked! We keep MDH, Crystal Thomas, Natalie Jacobs and Kumi Yokoyama! I was prepared to lose two, instead none. Absolutely delighted.
7:34pm (Jason): Here’s the weirdness we’ve been expecting!
Phone's popping right now. Expect Louisville to pick the rights to Press and Heath.— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) November 13, 2020
A risk, but potentially very high reward. But no allocation money for Louisville at the end of the night too. #NWSL | #NWSLExpansionDraft
Meanwhile, as I was typing this, Louisville selected Katie McClure, so the Spirit are now off the table. McClure showed some real flashes coming in off the right wing, and I know the coaching staff was impressed with her in training, but I’m also thinking they were probably not expecting to end the night with Thomas, MDH, Jacobs, and Yokoyama.
7:29pm (Jason): Following Lund, Louisville has picked CB/DM Alanna Kennedy from Orlando, attacking midfielder Lauren Milliet from the Courage, and center back Kaleigh Riehl from Sky Blue. Getting Kennedy to come back to NWSL from the FA WSL might be a chore, but if they contacted her before making the pick that could be a smart move.
Milliet is a great acquisition, she could well be a starter.
7:24pm (André): That pick just doused me in a bucket of relief. We’re guaranteed to keep all but one of Kumi, MDH, Thomas or Jacobs. Lund has potential but losing her doesn’t alter the current squad in any significant way. Breeeeeeathe!
7:21pm (Jason): Well, this is not quite what I expected when it came to the first Spirit player to depart. Louisville picked goalkeeper Katie Lund after appearing to be Richie Burke’s third choice in 2020.
7:18pm (André): Legit cannot believe Sky Blue left Cudjoe unprotected. Never go full galaxy brain, kids.
7:16pm (Jason): This is going fast to start here. OL Reign right back Julia Ashley and Sky Blue FC central midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe are heading to Racing. Ashley’s known for her speed and endurance, while Cudjoe being left unprotected is frankly inexplicable to me.
7:13pm (Jason): Louisville’s first pick is NC Courage defender Addisyn Merrick. Took over as their starting right back despite being a 4th round pick during last year’s college draft. Makes sense, good young defenders aren’t too common around the league.
7:11pm (Jason): Hope you’re all prepared for this to run long. We’re getting commercials...and many of them. Good for the league, bad for us.
7:07pm (André): And the pain has already begun as they remind us that we’ve already lost a gem of a player in Cheyna Matthews. Can’t help but root for her no matter the shirt, but also ouchies.
7:00pm (André): LETS GOOOOO! Follow along at twitch.tv/nwslofficial.
6:59pm (Jason): I am full of tortellini. I am as ready for this monstrosity as I possibly can be.
6:25pm (André): No matter what happens tonight you can find solace in the fact that WE HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR! AND VERY POSSIBLY FOR TWO TEAMS! (help)
6:04pm (André): Operation Protect Crystal Thomas begins immediately. We can’t really do anything, but if you know prayers and/or dark magic now is the time to get the chanting started.
6:00pm (Jason): Alright, we’re one hour out, so here are my brief thoughts on the Spirit protected list:
Not many surprises. I think Louisville acquiring Yuki Nagasato and Savannah McCaskill is a big factor in Kumi Yokoyama (a similar player stylistically to both of them) being left available, but it’s still a risk. After staring at the other unprotected lists, I figure the three players most likely to depart are Crystal Thomas, Meggie Dougherty Howard, and Natalie Jacobs. Not good! But also, there’s not much the Spirit can do, especially once Chicago set such a high price for draft exemption.
When: 7:00pm Eastern
Where: On the internet! It’s still the Covid-19 era, we’re all at home.
How can I watch?: The entire expansion draft is streaming on NWSL’s Twitch page.
What are the rules?: Here’s the long version. The short version is that Racing can take a maximum of two players from every team, and can take a maximum of two USWNT allocated players during the draft.
Here are the Spirit’s protected and unprotected lists (the list for the entire league is here):
Spirit protected/unprotected lists
|Dorian Bailey||Jaye Boissiere|
|Aubrey Bledsoe||Averie Collins|
|Jordan DiBiasi||Meggie Dougherty Howard|
|Bayley Feist||Jenna Hellstrom (intl.)|
|Ashley Hatch||Brooke Hendrix|
|Tori Huster||Natalie Jacobs|
|Tegan McGrady||Devon Kerr|
|Paige Nielsen||Lori Lindsey (playing rights)|
|Ashley Sanchez||Joanna Lohman (playing rights)|
|Sam Staab||Katie Lund|
|Andi Sullivan||Katie McClure|
|Kumi Yokoyama (intl.)|
This post will update throughout the draft, with posts from André and me (Jason) throughout. We’ll be active here and in the comments, so grab a drink and let’s try to have some fun with this thing.