NWSL Expansion Protected Lists

The lists of protected players for Friday's NWSL expansion draft have been revealed, and the Reign's doesn't include any surprises.

Via The Equalizer, we've learned the protected lists for all 8 existing NWSL teams heading into the Houston Dash expansion draft on Friday. The Reign protected list is close to matching the list I predicted on Monday, with the only difference being Danielle Foxhoven protected over Kate Deines (and I'm not really tooting my own horn here. . it wasn't a hard list to figure out).

That means the required US player exposed was, as predicted, Stephanie Cox. And though I originally leaned towards Cox not being picked, I'm now thinking she will be. The available US player pool is fairly weak as teams smartly exposed goalkeepers aplenty (whether or not they knew about the trade that sent Canadian keeper Erin McLeod to Houston) and some unpickable players (like Shannon Boxx, who's taking a year off to have a child). The easiest pick for Houston from among the US allocated players is probably Sky Blue's Kelley O'Hara, who's the only dangerous attacker available among the allocated US pool. Houston is limited to 2 allocated US players, and after O'Hara the best choice is probably between Cox and Portland's Rachel Buehler. The choice may come down to the fact that picking a USWNT player means Houston forgoes the right to pick any other players from that team. And Portland's list is more likely to have two players of interest (such as Meleana Shim or Becky Edwards)

Complicating matters is the fact that Discovery Players (which essentially work the same way as in MLS) are also pickable, and the identity of those players aren't public knowledge. One team even went so far as to protect a Discovery Player over players actually on the roster. The leaked list reveals that Seattle actually has 6 Discovery Players, tied with Kansas City for the most in the league. Without knowing who those players are or the likelihood of their joining the league, it's hard to evaluate the lists.

Regardless, we won't have to wait long to find out.

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