NWSL Expansion Draft: How it all went down and two standout selections

Just seven players were taken in the 2024 Expansion Draft as Bay FC and Utah Royals FC selected no players from Chicago Red Stars.

Racing Louisville FC v NJ/NY Gotham City FC
Racing Louisville FC v NJ/NY Gotham City FC / Joe Robbins/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Well, that was fun. No, that was sarcastic. Since 2020, three expansion drafts have taken place in the NWSL. As each one passes, it is becoming clearer and clearer why this is archaic. When 2026 rolls around and this is still the way of doing things, I'd be shocked. Jessica Berman, get to work, because I don't think the fans, the teams, and especially the players want to put themselves through what transpired Friday night.

Imagine being a player in that situation. You're sitting on thin ice wondering if you'll have to pack your bags and in some cases move across the country. Coaches even let their opinions be known. Two of them being San Diego Wave's Casey Stoney and OL Reign's Laura Harvey. The Seattle side's leader took to social media, stating, "I’d just like to make it official. I dislike the expansion draft."

A total of seven players were selected in the 2024 version as Utah Royals FC passed not once, not twice, but three times to close out its night. Bay FC, who came into the draft with a smaller roster, took advantage, taking a goalkeeper, two forwards, a midfielder, and a defender. Here's a breakdown of what actually occurred on Friday night (hint: not much), and some of our favorite selections.

How it all went down at the 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft

Bay FC Picks:

No. 1: Alyssa Malonson - Defender via OL Reign
No. 3: Tess Boade - Forward via North Carolina Courage
No. 5: Rachel Hill - Forward via San Diego Wave
No. 7: Katelyn Rowland - Goalkeeper via North Carolina Courage
No. 9: Pass
No. 11: Pass
No. 12: Sierra Enge - Midfielder via San Diego Wave

Utah Royals FC picks:

No. 2: Elyse Bennett - Forward via OL Reign
No. 4: Paige Monaghan - Forward via Racing Louisville
No. 6: Pass
No. 8: Pass
No. 10: Pass
No. 12: Pass

Two of the best selections from the 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft

1. Sierra Enge - Bay FC

This was a pretty heart-wrenching pick. Well, they all were from the player's perspective. Sierra Enge, the now ex-San Diego Wave midfielder, is a native of southern California who was picked up by her hometown club in last season's College Draft. Now, she is forced to depart a place she most likely did not want to leave at a moment's notice and compete for an in-state rival.

With that being said, the Cardiff, California native is a quality pick-up for Bay FC, a club that already had three midfielders heading into Friday. Due to the fact that she was the final selection in the draft, some may overlook it. Enge adds versatility, something Tess Boade will bring from North Carolina. One would think she'll be in the rotation at defensive midfielder alongside Alex Loera. Don't count her out for some minutes at center back, she did it against Kansas City Current last season, a game in which she scored from a set-piece. Enge is not known for scoing goals, but in 2023, she demonstrated that she knows what it takes to be in the right place at the right time in the box.

SD's former No. 8 is a hard-worker, a disciplined player, and someone that can break through back lines with her progressive passing. All things a new club will value. Emily Menges, a veteran of this league and now Enge will help create Bay FC's defensive identity. In her rookie campaign, the Stanford product started in 11 out of the 14 contests in which she took part in across all competitions in 2023 according to FBref. In every match in which she competed in from the get-go, she contributed over 86 minutes.

2. Paige Monaghan - Utah Royals FC

Sometimes it's quality over quantity. That pretty much summed up Utah's draft night. Despite only selecting two players, mostly due to who was already on its roster, the newcomers are set to bolster the Royals' attack from the jump. We can talk about Elyse Bennett, and her potential as such a young player in this league, but Paige Monaghan may very well be one of the side's leading goal contributors in 2024.

The 27-year-old New Jersey native was drafted into the league by Sky Blue FC in 2019 and dealt to Racing Louisville FC in a draft day deal last January. The dynamic winger played a hand in six goals in both the league and Challenge Cup in 22 starts according to FBref.

There was a stretch in July where she netted a goal in three straight matches, including the eventual winner against Kansas City. Keep an eye on her next season against OL Reign though. Monaghan scored a goal in which match against the Seattle side in 2023. That pace, and experience in front of goal, especially off the back of such a good season in Kentucky will assist Utah from opening day.

Where each expansion outfit's roster stands post-draft

Bay FC:

Goalkeepers: Katelyn Rowland
Defenders: Caprice Dydasco, Ellie Jean, Emily Menges, Alyssa Malonson
Midfielders: Dorian Bailey, Alex Loera, Joelle Anderson, Sierra Enge
Forwards: Scarlett Camberos, Rachel Hill, Tess Boade

Utah Royals FC:

Goalkeepers: Mandy Haught, Carly Nelson
Defenders: Kaleigh Riehl, Kate Del Fava, Madison Pogarch
Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Emily Gray, Frankie Tagliaferri
Forwards: Hannah Betfort, Paige Monaghan, Elyse Bennett, Michele Vasconcelos, Cameron Tucker, Imani Dorsey

Note: Dorsey is listed as a forward per the Utah Royals' press release but she can also play outside back

On January 12, at 8 p.m. EST, the league will have its second draft of the offseason. The College Draft will take place in Anaheim, California and is set to be streamed on ION and ION Plus. Here's all the information per the league.