With the NWSL Fall Series set to conclude this weekend, the league will bid farewell to an unpredictable and historic season. The NWSL was the first professional contact sport to return to play in the country amidst an ongoing pandemic, and the Challenge Cup bubble in Utah was a groundbreaking success.
The league organized more games to close out the year with the recent Fall Series, giving players more matches in a competitive environment. Outside of a bubble environment, the league divided its nine clubs into three regional pods in an effort to reduce travel and have clubs compete against each other. The Fall Series saw one positive case of COVID-19 from the Houston Dash throughout the duration of the competition, and will wrap up this weekend with the final games taking place on Saturday.
The NWSL announced the a quick turnaround for the next event on the league calendar: the expansion draft for its newest club, Racing Louisville FC. Below is the schedule of key NWSL dates for the remainder of 2020.
Oct. 22 (1 p.m. ET): Trade/waiver window closesOct. 22 (5 p.m. ET): All previously unannounced trades announcedOct. 29 (5 p.m. ET): End-of-season process deadlineNov. 4 (5 p.m. ET): Protected list is due from clubs to NWSLNov. 5 (1 p.m ET): Protected/unprotected lists distributed and made publicNov. 12 (Time TBA): 2020 NWSL Expansion DraftNov. 13 (9 a.m. ET): Trade window opens
“We’re thrilled to take this next step in the process of welcoming Racing Louisville FC to the NWSL as they prepare to field a competitive team in 2021,” said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird in a statement. “Expansion drafts are obviously incredibly exciting events, but they’re also difficult for players and fans alike, so I want to thank the entire NWSL community for their support as we continue to expand our league and grow the game.”
The 2020 expansion draft timeline is providing a look at rapidly approaching windows. Expansion draft rules to be announced at a further date. Those rules for the last expansion draft in 2016 (when the Orlando Pride joined the league) allowed the team to select up to 10 players from the list of unprotected players across nine clubs with a limit of two players from respective teams. The Challenge Cup and Fall Series have no doubt provided extensive looks at deeper rosters across the league.
Prior rules also allowed a specific number of players certain teams were allowed to protect, with playoff qualifying teams allowed to protect nine, and non-playoff teams allowed 10. With the unusual series of matches and competition style played this season, the rules could take similar shape with adjustments to take in consideration. The annual NWSL college draft and introduction of allocation money in 2020 could also impact any new allocation rules. Allocation money was not a concept in NWSL during last expansion draft.
“We as a club are very excited to receive this information from the NWSL,” said Racing Louisville FC head coach Christy Holly. “As a club, we feel this will be a major step forward in the recruitment process. Over the last two months, we’ve taken a detailed approach to our analysis of rosters within the NWSL. With a clear understanding of the type of players our club would like to represent us and the city of Louisville, we are intrigued to learn which players will be available for us to select.”