The National Women's Soccer League will welcome new players into the fold on Saturday with the 10th annual NWSL Draft, which will be hosted virtually as teams will participate from their home market. Fans can stream this draft and the Expansion Draft on Thursday live on Paramount+ and CBS Sports HQ. Let's take a look at how the draft works ahead of the big event.
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NWSL Draft: How to watch
Date: Dec. 18, 2021 | Time: 2 p.m. ET
Stream: Paramount+ and CBS Sports HQ
The draft order is typically determined by the reverse order of finish in the regular season, with the two finalists taken into account. Previous trades have already shifted some of the first round order. Take the reigning champion Washington Spirit, for instance, who have already traded our of the final pick of the first round (12th overall) and won't be making their first selection until the very end of Round 3 (38th overall). Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC were placed in the draft order determined by the NWSL Board of Governors, and also have compensatory picks in between Rounds 2 and 3. Angel City have already traded out of the No. 2 spot and won't make their first selection until the compensatory round (26th overall).
With the trade window opening back up after the expansion draft on Dec. 17, there is the possibility the order could shift again. Here is a look at the current draft order ahead of any announced deals or trades.
1. San Diego Wave
2. Racing Louisville (via Angel City)
3. North Carolina Courage (via Current)
4. Racing Louisville
5. Orlando Pride
6. Houston Dash
7. Kansas City Current (via Courage)
8. NJ./NY Gotham
9. San Diego Wave (via Spirit, via Reign)
10. OL Reign (via Thorns)
11. Chicago Red Stars
12. Kansas City Current (via Spirit)
13. Portland Thorns (via Angel City)
14. San Diego Wave
15. OL Reign (via Current)
16. Racing Louisville
17. Kansas City Current (via Pride)
18. Chicago Red Stars (via Dash)
19. Chicago Red Stars (via Courage)
20. OL Reign (via Gotham)
21. Houston Dash (via Reign)
22. Portland Thorns
23. Chicago Red Stars
24. NJ/NY Gotham (via Spirit)
25. San Diego Wave
26. Angel City
27. San Diego Wave
28. Angel City
29. Orlando Pride
30. Racing Louisville
31. Orlando Pride
32. OL Reign (via Dash)
33.OL Reign (via Courage)
34. NJ/NY Gotham
35. Chicago Red Stars (via Reign)
36. Angel City (via Reign, via Thorns)
37. Chicago Red Stars
38. Washington Spirit
39. Angel City
40. San Diego Wave
41. Kansas City Current
42. Racing Louisville
43. Kansas City Current (via Pride)
44. Houston Dash
45. North Carolina Courage
46. NJ/NY Gotham
47. OL Reign
48. Portland Thorns
49. Chicago Red Stars
50. Washington Spirit
Draft rules, procedures
The NWSL Draft will have a maximum of 50 selections over the course of four rounds. In the first round, each team will have five minutes to announce their picks. After Round 1, and including the compensatory picks, teams will have three minutes to announce their pick or forfeit their selection. Being that the draft is no longer being held in person from Los Angeles, teams must notify the league via video call of their selection prior to the clock expiring.
Timeouts are also a factor. Expansion clubs may request four timeouts, while the 10 remaining teams may request three during the draft for further discussion, rule clarification or trade discussion. Timeouts are three minutes in length and cannot be "stacked." For example: Team A can call a timeout for discussions or trades with Team B, but Team B cannot call a timeout to continue discussions or trades with Team A after the initial three-minute period from Team A expires. A pick must be made after the timeout. If a team fails to make or forfeit its selection in that time, it loses the opportunity to make its selection for the round.
The league also has the power to call timeouts at any time to resolve procedural issues or any other reason in its discretion. There will be a five-minute break after the first round and a two-minute organizational break between each subsequent round.
All trades must be approved by the league before they are official and announced to the public. No player names will be made public until they can be notified of the trade by their Team. The phrase "a player to be named later" will be used in those instances when a player name cannot be announced per these rules.
If a player eligible and registered for the 2022 NWSL Draft goes undrafted, they will be assigned as discovery eligible by Sunday, the day after the draft. Per NCAA, undrafted players may return to school and retain their collegiate eligibility if they notify their institution's Director of Athletics within 72 hours following the NWS Draft. The player would be required to register for a subsequent NWSL Draft in order to play in the league in the season following that NWSL Draft.