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Debinha, Tobin Heath lead group of NWSL free agents under new rule

North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha was among the NWSL MVP finalists in 2022. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

The NWSL free agency pool expanded by 22 players Monday after an arbitration ruling ruled them eligible following a dispute between the NWSL and NWSL Players Association.

Several stars number among the new additions, from a 2022 MVP candidate to a U.S. women’s national team star. Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at the top free agents to join the fray of the league’s first free agency period.


A candidate for NWSL MVP this year, Debinha went on a tear for North Carolina. At one point, she scored five goals in two games for the Courage as they made a final playoff push, though they fell just short.

With 12 goals on the season, she finished third in the Golden Boot standings behind Alex Morgan (15) and Sophia Smith (14).

The Brazilian forward has been a member of the Courage since 2017, when she first joined the NWSL. But will she stay in North Carolina?

Tobin Heath

USWNT star Tobin Heath has struggled with injury for the last few seasons, including this one. After making just five appearances for OL Reign, Heath had season-ending knee surgery.

Before the move to Seattle, Heath had played in the NWSL for the Portland Thorns since 2013, winning two championships. She later departed for Manchester United and did a short stint at Arsenal.

Her journey to OL Reign was an interesting one, as her NWSL rights had been held by Racing Louisville FC. The club acquired her rights in the 2021 expansion draft. Her rights were later traded to OL Reign in exchange for draft picks and allocation money.

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Christine Sinclair

Sinclair has been a member of the Portland Thorns since her entry into the NWSL in 2013, so if she doesn’t re-sign with them, it would come as an absolute shock.

Still, she’s worth looking at as a big free agent. As Portland’s all-time top goal scorer with 65, Sinclair signed a one-year contract extension with the Thorns in January. The deal also included an option for the 2023 season.

When signed, general manager Karina LeBlanc said Sinclair “made it clear that she always wants to be a Thorn.”

She’s the only player to start and play in every playoff game in the club’s history and leads the club in games played (143), games started (140), minutes played (12,404) and goals (54).