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.”

NWSL expansion club Bay FC has hired Albertin Montoya as its inaugural head coach, the club announced Wednesday.

The league officially announced the franchise in April. Bay FC will begin play in 2024, joining the returning Utah Royals.

A longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, Montoya, 48, served as interim head coach of the Washington Spirit in 2022. On Monday, he told The Athletic that his stint in 2022 gave him “the bug for the professional game again.”

“The Bay Area has been such a great area with professional sports, and how can we not have a women’s team here in Northern California?” Montoya said. “And now that the opportunity is there, I’m just honored, and it’s just a privilege, that the organization is trusting me (with this role).”

In a team statement, Montoya added that he is “honored to be a part of the foundation upon which our team’s history will be built.”

Bay FC general manager Lucy Rushton told ESPN that she had narrowed down to a list of about 40 candidates. But when traveling around the league to research best practices, Montoya’s name kept coming up in conversation.

“Every time I say I’d go to Kansas City or I’d go to Washington Spirit or wherever it was, I’d go and people would ask me about Albertin,” Rushton said. “‘Are you looking for a head coach? I mean, haven’t you got Albertin Montoya there?’ I swear everybody knows Albertin, and so it was ironic to continually find myself in these places where people were telling me to make this guy the head coach.”

Rushton added that playing style and identity will be key as the team moves into its first season, so she saw Montoya’s history of developing players as a definite plus. In addition to his time with the Spirit, Montoya coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team from 2011-12. He also founded the Montoya Soccer Academy and Mountain View Los Altos Soccer Club.

He has lived in Northern California nearly his entire life, growing up in Mountain View and playing professionally in the area in the 1990s. He also served as co-head coach of the California Storm of the Women’s Premier Soccer League.

“I’ve been around for quite some time, so I know the players that are around the league that have the Bay Area ties,” Montoya said. “And if things come together the way we see it, we’d like to bring in some of the local talent that’s playing in other places around the league, and maybe do more of a Bay Area team. But we’ll see.”