The NWSL offseason is heating up, with the second year of free agency on the horizon.
Already, a number of players have said that they will explore their options. Both Portland Thorns veterans Crystal Dunn and Becky Sauerbrunn are among those who will test the market, with Dunn confirming she will not return to Portland in 2024.
Teams also are preparing for the expansion draft, with Bay FC and the Utah Royals readying for their first seasons. But free agents who have not signed with clubs are not eligible for the expansion draft, which could incentivize players and teams to play the waiting game for new contracts.
The 2018 NWSL Rookie of the Year has joined the Royals in free agency, the expansion team announced Wednesday.
The 27-year-old forward has spent her entire career to this point in New York, having been drafted by Sky Blue FC in 2018 before the club was rebranded to Gotham FC. She played in 72 games for the club, though she sat out the 2023 season to focus on her mental health.
“When I heard about URFC return, I was intrigued about the possibility of playing here,” Dorsey said in a news release. “I came into the league in 2018, so during those first few seasons, traveling to Salt Lake City, this was a place I was very excited to experience. From the outside looking in, the amenities this club built up for women’s soccer was to be admired – setting the league standard even then.”
She also called the vision for the new iteration of the Royals “so inspiring.”
“I am very excited to help grow Utah’s soccer culture,” she continued. “That’s one of the joys of being a professional, to being a part of the energy and the emotion of the crowd, the community, inspiring the next generation. I cannot wait to dive head-first into the Utah experience.”
The 2021 NWSL Defender of the Year, Dydasco became the second player on Bay FC’s inaugural roster and the expansion team’s first free-agent signing. The 30-year-old comes to Bay FC from the Houston Dash.
“A highly technical and intelligent footballer, Caprice’s ability to impact play in the final third and create goalscoring opportunities make her one of the most exciting and productive attacking fullbacks in the league,” Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton said in a news release.
The first official free agent signing of the offseason, the 29-year-old midfielder departed the Portland Thorns to return to Utah on a two-year deal. She had requested a trade to the previous iteration of the Royals in 2020, but soon after the trade, the team folded and Vasconcelos and other players were transferred to the expansion Kansas City Current.
“As I come back to Utah, for sure excitement is my main feeling, but I’m also feeling a ton of relief – I was devastated when the team left three years ago,” she said.
The Washington Spirit exercised the 2025 option on the 21-year-old forward’s contract. They also exercised the 2026 options on the contracts of goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury and midfielder Andi Sullivan.
San Diego sent Riehl to the expansion Utah Royals. In exchange for the 27-year-old defender, the Wave received expansion draft protection from the Royals, plus $60,000 in allocation money.
The 35-year-old forward announced her decision to leave Racing Louisville in free agency in an Instagram post.
“It’s been a blast. No not really, but it’s been cool,” Nadim wrote. “Lovely teammates & amazing fans is what’s kept me going during these quite challenging 2.5 years.”
The Kansas City Current sent defensive midfielder Alex Loera to Bay FC in exchange for $175,000 in allocation money and protection in the upcoming NWSL expansion draft.
Bay FC and the Utah Royals will have the opportunity to select up to 12 players through the 12-round expansion draft. While the Current are protected from Bay FC, the Royals still could select from the Kansas City roster. Teams can protect up to nine players from the expansion draft.
The Orlando Pride acquired expansion draft protection and $90,000 in allocation money from the Utah Royals exchange for midfielder Mikayla Cluff and the No. 26 pick in the 2024 college draft.
On Nov. 13, the Pride already had acquired expansion draft protection from Bay FC, trading a first-round draft pick (No. 8 overall) in the 2024 draft in exchange for $50,000 in allocation money and draft protection from the San Francisco Bay Area club.