OL Reign today announced that it has obtained the NWSL rights to defender Alyssa Malonson from the North Carolina Courage, who in exchange acquired midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri from OL Reign following a successful Discovery Challenge.
If Discovery Challenge is a new term for you, well, you are certainly not alone. It’s a mechanism in the league that is very rarely utilized. Here’s a basic overview of the rule: if one or more clubs attempt to add the same player to their Discovery Lists, the club that filed the claim on the earlier date — the Reign in this case — has the priority right to sign the player. If the second club wants to sign this player, they can issue a “Discovery Challenge” to the club with the higher priority. That forces the initial club to either extend an offer to the player, accept a $25,000 fee from the second club, or negotiate a different deal with the second club. Essentially, this process prevents teams from squatting on players’ rights.
In the case of this trade, sources shared with Ride of the Valkyries that Tagliaferri — who the Reign added to their Discovery List after the 2021 draft — was interested in staying on the East Coast near family, which made the deal possible for the Reign and North Carolina. Instead of putting her name back into the 2022 NWSL College Draft, which was an option for those who chose to play another season in college, she opted to keep her rights with the Reign and hope they could find a deal with an East Coast team. The Courage had a player that had been on OL Reign’s radar, Malonson, so both sides worked out a deal to exchange rights using the Discovery Challenge mechanism.
Malonson was originally drafted 20th overall by North Carolina in the 2021 NWSL Draft, but she opted to stay at Auburn University to play out her fifth year of NCAA eligibility in 2021, an option made available to players during the pandemic.
Primarily a defender in her first three seasons in an Auburn uniform, Malonson transitioned to the midfield in 2020 and tied for second on the team in points that fall. She again played in both spots on the field in her final season of eligibility in 2021, finishing the year as a defender, where she was named United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-American, SEC Defender of the Year, and First Team All-SEC. In her final season, Malonson scored twice and assisted four goals while also helping lead Auburn to seven total shutouts and five shutouts in SEC play.
Here’s a glimpse of what the speedy player, who was often streaking down the left flank, did with Auburn last fall.
In her career with the Tigers, Malonson played in 97 matches — an Auburn record — and started each match. Malonson scored four goals and tallied 23 assists for Auburn. Malonson also has U.S. Youth National Team experience and was most recently called up to join the U-23 WNT in 2019 for the U-23 La Manga Tournament, where she played alongside Reign player Alana Cook with the U.S. as they faced Sweden and France.