Rapinoe unprotected in NWSL expansion draft


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United States women’s team stars Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Kelley O’Hara are among those who have been left unprotected by their teams and are available to be taken in next week’s National Women’s Soccer League expansion draft.

The draft, scheduled for Dec. 16, will allow expansion teams Angel City FC and the San Diego Wave to select up to nine players each from existing teams in the NWSL.

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Teams were allowed to protect up to nine players on their rosters, leaving the rest of the players on their rosters available to be chosen. In addition to unprotected lists including Rapinoe (OL Reign), Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns) and O’Hara (Washington Spirit), other U.S. national team players left unprotected include Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit) and Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit).

Canadian all-time leading scorer Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns) is also unprotected. Four NWSL teams earned full immunity in the expansion draft through a series of trades before last week’s roster freeze: The Chicago Red Stars, the Kansas City Current, NJ/NY Gotham, and the North Carolina Courage.

Rosters don’t unfreeze until after the expansion draft on Dec. 17, but in years past, teams often engage in handshake agreements and negotiate deals to protect players. The NWSL college draft is set for Dec. 18, which typically ushers in another round of trades among teams.

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