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Washington Spirit announce protected list ahead of 2021 NWSL Expansion Draft

The Spirit have immunity from San Diego and partial immunity from Angel City, but still figure to lose a player next Thursday

Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

Ahead of the upcoming NWSL expansion draft for newcomers Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC, the Washington Spirit named their list of protected players today. The Spirit have already acquired complete immunity from San Diego in the trade that sent Tegan McGrady to the Wave, and made a recent deal with Angel City that means the LA-based club cannot select USWNT allocated players Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, and Andi Sullivan.

That still unfortunately leaves the Spirit vulnerable to losing one player in the expansion draft, which is set for Thursday, December 16 at 7:00pm Eastern, with Angel City free to select from Washington’s non-allocated players. The Spirit’s roster can be broken down into the following three groups:

Spirit protected/unprotected lists

Protected list Protected via trade Unprotected
Protected list Protected via trade Unprotected
Dorian Bailey Kelley O'Hara Taylor Aylmer
Aubrey Bledsoe Emily Sonnett Camryn Biegalski
Bayley Feist Andi Sullivan Averie Collins
Ashley Hatch Jordan DiBiasi
Tara McKeown Morgan Goff
Julia Roddar Anna Heilferty
Trinity Rodman Tori Huster
Ashley Sanchez Devon Kerr
Sam Staab Paige Nielsen
Karina Rodríguez
Sydney Schneider
Saori Takarada
Kumi Yokoyama
Jason Anderson / Black and Red United

Due to the vagaries of NWSL rules, the Spirit have also left the league rights to Lori Lindsey and Joanna Lohman unprotected, though both former USWNT players have retired from pro soccer.

The Spirit’s approach to the expansion draft, given the depth of their roster, was always going to end with some talented players available for selection. Washington opted for a very straightforward plan, protecting ten of the eleven players that started in last month’s NWSL Championship game (the exception, McGrady, obviously can’t be protected after having been traded).

The only players who weren’t playoff starters to get protection are Bayley Feist and Julia Roddar. Roddar’s case is clear: she and McGrady were platooning at left back over the last three months of the season, and the Swedish international seems like a very solid bet to be the starter there on day one in 2022. Feist, meanwhile, seemed destined to have a breakout season this year, only for a torn ACL suffered in the Spirit’s final preseason contest to derail those plans.

Based on the Spirit’s overall strength as a squad, it seems virtually inevitable that they will lose someone, though gauging who ACFC will want is more difficult. We’ll have a breakdown of those chances as the expansion draft approaches.