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Who should OL Reign protect in 2022 Expansion Draft?

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Only nine players can be protected from the California teams.

Chicago Red Stars v OL Reign Photo by Jane Gershovich/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Two new California-based teams are joining the NWSL for the 2022 season, and next Thursday, December 16, is their opportunity to pluck talent from existing teams to build out their inaugural rosters. Several existing teams have already made deals with Angel City and San Diego to protect all or a subset of their players from selection in the expansion draft.

In fact, right at the time of publishing this story, OL Reign announced a deal with Angel City. The Reign traded the 36th overall draft pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft to Angel City. In return, Angel City gave OL Reign $25,000 in allocation money and agreed to not select a forward from OL Reign’s list of unprotected players in the expansion draft. That leaves Angel City free to select a player from any other position on the field, and pending any additional news, San Diego can still select a forward or another OL Reign player.

Ahead of the 2022 Expansion Draft, the remaining vulnerable teams can protect nine of their current players, including only one US federation player. For OL Reign, that means either Rose Lavelle or Megan Rapinoe must be exposed. Ahead of Racing Louisville’s expansion draft last year, the Reign opted to protect their rights to Lavelle and leave Rapinoe available for selection, a gamble which paid off when Michelle Betos was instead selected by the Kentucky side.

Teams can only lose one player from a position group in this draft — for example, if one of OL Reign’s goalkeepers were to be selected, their remaining goalkeepers would be protected from selection by the other expansion team. The two expansion teams can also only select up to one US federation player each, but by doing so they would lose a $150,000 allocation money grant which would instead go to the team losing said player.

Who are the nine OL Reign players you would protect ahead of the Expansion Draft?