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Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 NWSL Draft

The NWSL Draft is fast approaching. Catch up on the key rules for both teams and players, as well as the 2023 draft order.

The first major pro sports draft of 2023 is almost upon us. This year’s NWSL Draft festivities will take place during the United Soccer Coaches Convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Jan. 12.

Free agency is underway across the league, but rosters will officially take shape following the draft. If you’re a novice to women’s pro soccer, consider this a guide to help broaden your insight before the season kicks off on March 25. Not all drafts operate under the same structure, and the NWSL has introduced new protocol to its official rulebook. While the entire handbook is worth a look, Boardroom has broken down the most important rules and previewed the current top 10 draft order.

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Key 2023 NWSL Draft Rules and Procedures

  • Teams are limited to two Under-18 players between their senior rosters and the Entry List.
  • Players may not be waived or traded until they have turned 18 or the team has received consent from both the player and parent or legal guardian.
  • Athletes may not be already committed to a professional contract, nor have previously signed a contract to play soccer at the pro level.
  • The NWSL Draft will consist of a maximum of 48 selections over the course of four rounds.
  • Clubs may request three timeouts during the draft for further discussion, rule clarification, or trade talks. Time-outs taken in all rounds are three minutes long.

NWSL Top 10 Draft Order and Picks

Similar to the NFL, the NWSL Draft order is determined by the reverse order of finish in the regular season, with the championship match also considered in the structure. According to the rules, the last pick will go to the winner of the NWSL championship (Portland Thorns) and the second-to-last to the championship runner-up (Kansas City Current).

  1. NJ/NY Gotham FC (4): No. 1, 10, 13, 44
  2. Orlando Pride (8): No. 2, 3, 21, 25, 29, 34, 39, 41
  3. Racing Louisville FC (6): No. 4, 16, 17, 28, 31, 40
  4. Angel City FC (2): No. 5, 27
  5. North Carolina Courage (4): No. 6, 9, 11, 30
  6. Chicago Red Stars (3): No. 7, 19, 43
  7. Houston Dash (3): No. 8, 20, 22
  8. Portland Thorns FC (4): No. 12, 24, 36, 48
  9. Washington Spirit (3): No. 14, 26, 37
  10. Kansas City Current (7): No. 15, 18, 23, 35, 38, 42, 47

Athletes hoping to hear their names must register by Jan. 9 at 11:59 p.m. ET to be eligible for selection. The current list features 92 players and is expected to increase before the eligibility deadline. Players not selected will be discovery eligible following the draft’s conclusion. As for college athletes, NCAA rules state that un-drafted players are eligible to return to school and retain their collegiate eligibility, so long as they inform their college’s athletic director within 72 hours following the draft.

The 2023 NWSL draft airs live on Thursday, Jan. 12 at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network and Paramount+.

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About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today and, most recently, Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.