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Lu Barnes, Megan Rapinoe headline list of available players on OL Reign expansion draft protection list

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Reign protected list skews toward the future, along with an immortal dragon.

Portland Thorns FC v OL Reign Photo by Jane Gershovich/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Protected lists ahead of the upcoming 2022 NWSL Expansion Draft were due today, with the teams that did not acquire full protection from the draft through prior trades allowed to protect nine players, including one US allocated player. The draft to stock the rosters of Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC takes place on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 4 PM PT, and will air live on CBSSN and Paramount+.

OL Reign has opted to protect the following nine players from selection: Bethany Balcer, Alana Cook, Angelina, Jessica Fishlock, Sofia Huerta, Rose Lavelle, Quinn, Phallon Tullis-Joyce, and Ally Watt.

Much like last year, the Reign opted to protect Lavelle at the expense of leaving Megan Rapinoe exposed, with the hope that neither expansion team will be interested in selecting the 36-year-old and forfeiting a $150,000 allocation money grant.

Kansas City is exempt from the draft as part of their agreement for joining the league last season and acquiring the Utah Royals FC roster, and North Carolina Courage, Gotham FC, and the Chicago Red Stars made trades with both new teams to fully exempt themselves from the rest of the draft. The Washington Spirit made a trade to protect themselves from San Diego but will still lose a player to Angel City, while Racing Louisville and the Portland Thorns made trades to protect themselves from Angel City but will each still lose a player to San Diego. The Spirit also negotiated a deal with Angel City to protect all of their US allocated players from selection.

OL Reign traded a third-round draft pick to Angel City late last week in exchange for $25,000 in allocation money and a promise that the Los Angeles club would not select any forwards from the Reign. They are otherwise still at risk of losing an unprotected player to each of the two California clubs, but can only lose one player from a position group.

Earlier this week we asked fans to pick their preferred nine Reign players to be protected from the expansion draft. With over 350 votes submitted, the fan consensus wasn’t too far off the actual Reign protected list. You overwhelmingly opted to protect Jess Fishlock, Bethany Balcer, Sofia Huerta, Alana Cook and Quinn, along with Rose Lavelle as the Reign’s US allocated player. Each of those six players were selected for protection by at least 75% of voters, with Fishlock leading the way on 94% of lists. Rounding out the group fans preferred to protect were Lauren Barnes (57% of voters), Eugenie Le Sommer (44%) and Angelina (41%). The next two players who just missed the fan-consensus protected list were Ally Watt (30%) and Kristen McNabb (29%).


How to watch the 2022 NWSL Expansion Draft

Date/Time: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 4:00 PM PT

TV: CBS Sports Network

Streaming: Paramount+, NWSL YouTube page, Twitch (CBS Sports HQ and NWSL)