NWSL news: Spirit gain double expansion protection, Matt Potter joins Bay FC, Gilles extends Lyon loan

  • Washington Spirit trade for expansion protection from Bay FC and Utah Royals FC
  • Ex-Current head coach Matt Potter returns to NWSL, as technical director of Bay FC
  • Angel City defender Vanessa Gilles to stay in France until June 2025
NJ/NY Gotham FC v Washington Spirit - 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup
NJ/NY Gotham FC v Washington Spirit - 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

NWSL news: Washington Spirit make deals with both expansion sides in order to secure double draft protection

The build-up to Friday just keeps getting better. Prior to the transaction deadline this morning at 9 a.m. EST, Washington Spirit agreed to two deals that allow it to become just the second team with full protection in Friday's expansion draft.

The 2021 NWSL champions sent one of its 10 players who competed in over 1000 league minutes in 2023, Dorian Bailey to Bay FC in exchange for protection in the draft. To lock up the same thing with Utah, the Spirit shipped the No. 20 and No. 21 overall picks in the 2024 NWSL College Draft to the Royals. Two second-round picks is a tough blow, but losing Bailey is even tougher. This is a massive win for the northern California side which now has three quality players on its inaugural roster. The Kansas native is for the most part listed as a midfielder, but can also serve as an outside back if needed.

We knew this would have to come at a price, and Washington without question paid. Nobody assisted on more goals in the 2023 regular season for the Spirit than Bailey. According to The Athletic's Meg Linehan, there were "multiple deals" around the league that got done prior to the 9 a.m. EST deadline. So, in short, gear up for some more chaos.

NWSL news: Former KC Current head coach Matt Potter to become technical director of Bay FC

Since mid-April, Matt Potter has been out of job after Kansas City Current sacked him three games into the 2023 season. The shocking decision came in the wake of some "issues around his leadership and employment responsibilities." Now, per a statement by Bay FC this morning, he has been brought on by new expansion side Bay FC to become the club's first technical director.

The release lays out some of Potter's duties on the operations team, stating, "he will work closely with [Lucy] Rushton and [Albertin] Montoya to provide expert support across all areas of soccer operations with a strong focus on scouting and player development."

Despite an interesting ending to his tenure in the mid-west, Potter led the Current to a remarkable 2022 campaign. The England native led two Division I college programs, and the United States U23 Women's National Team prior to being employed by an NWSL outfit. He brought a team from dead last in the league to the NWSL Championship. During that season, the club battled significant injuries to two USWNT players who many thought were going to be the core reasons for KC's successes.

NWSL news: Canadian international Vanessa Gilles extends her stay with Lyon through June 2025

Coming off one season helping Lyon finish on top of Division 1 Féminine, Lyon, and Angel City have confirmed that defender Vanessa Gilles is set to be with the French powerhouse until June 2025. That means another campaign piling up silverware and eating some of the world's best croissants. What a life. The 27-year-old was oozing excitement once the news became official.

“I am very happy and very proud. I can't wait to attack the rest of the season with confidence," Gilles said, "When I arrived here, I said that OL would not refuse. When they offered me this extension, I didn't hesitate."

This is the second time that the 16-time French champions decided to keep her around longer than the one year that was intended. The Canadian has spent nearly her entire professional career competing in the French top flight. Prior to joining NWSL side ACFC, Gilles made 64 starts over four seasons with Bordeaux per FBref. The center-back is off to a red-hot start to the campaign, scoring four goals including two against Slavia Prague in the first match week of the UEFA Women's Champions League.

It is becoming more and more of a reality that Gilles' time in L.A. may be coming to an end. The Equalizer reported that her contract with ACFC now runs through the 2027 NWSL campaign. Even with that, it is almost impossible to feel 100 percent confident that the Canadian will actually return to the City of Angels.