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NWSL expansion draft: Bay FC and Utah select seven players

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North Carolina Courage goalie Katelyn Rowland makes a save during the NWSL game between North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit March 30, 2022 at Audi Field in Washington, DC. (Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NWSL hosted its expansion draft on Dec. 15 to fill the rosters of the two newest teams in the league — Bay FC and Utah Royals FC. 

Bay FC selected five players in the draft, in contrast to the Royals’ two selections. Utah built out its roster earlier in the offseason through trades and free agency.

Bay FC’s five players selected in the expansion draft include NWSL veteran goaltender Katelyn Rowland. Rowland has collected some impressive hardware during her eight-year NWSL career, including four NWSL championships, three NWSL Shields and two Challenge Cups. 

The San Francisco area club also selected defender Alyssa Malonson from OL Reign, forward Tess Boade from the North Carolina Courage and forward Rachel Hill and midfielder Sierra Enge from the San Diego Wave. 

The Royals’ two picks in the expansion draft were forward Alyssa Bennett from OL Reign and forward Paige Monaghan from Racing Louisville. 

Bay FC added a veteran goaltender to its already defense-heavy roster, and both expansion squads added scoring depth. 

“I love playing football with the ball… we’re going  to be a technical team who understands when to go forward and being a threat when we can,” Bay head coach Albertin Montoya said on Attacking Third after the draft.

OL Reign, the Courage and the Wave all lost two players from the expansion. Bennett in particular had a successful season for the Seattle club in 2023, with two goals and two assists, and she will help first-year head coach and former player Amy Rodriguez achieve her vision for her team. 

“This is the team we’re forming and it’s one that’s going to rest upon humility, and hard work, and passion, and intensity, very similar to how I was as a player,” Rodriguez said on Attacking Third. “This is definitely the start of something great here in Utah and we can’t wait to bring the Royals back in a second iteration because I think we’re going to be bigger and better than before.”