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Key players? How Bay FC, Utah Royals are building their squads ahead of expansion season

Here are the players to watch from each expansion team.

4 min read

The NWSL Expansion Draft wrapped up on Friday night, and the league’s newcomers – Bay FC and the Utah Royals FC – finally have enough players to technically play a soccer game. After the draft and a slew of additional trades that happened over the weekend, the Bay have an 11-player roster, while the Royals’ is 13 players long. 

While there’s going to be even more player movement coming up because the NWSL’s transaction moratorium ended on Saturday morning, now’s a good time to take a step back and evaluate these new teams. Who are the key players on each roster? And who should you look forward to watching in 2024? Let’s take a closer look at three notable players in each squad.

Bay FC 

The first on my shortlist for Bay FC is former North Carolina Courage forward Tess Boade.

In Boade’s second NWSL season, she was a total gamechanger for North Carolina. She notched three assists, averaged the second-most non-penalty xG (0.33), and logged the third-most shot-creating actions (2.89) per 90 minutes on the Courage roster in just over 700 regular season minutes. Numbers aside, some of the best parts of Boade’s game are her vision and ability to pick out passes before they even materialize, like this needle-threading assist to Olivia Wingate.

Plus, Boade has experience being an attacker on a possession-oriented team, which Bay FC’s head coach Albertin Montoya said will also be their style in 2024. 

My next spotlight pick for the Bay is midfielder Alex Loera, who was the team’s very first signing. Loera is another young player, like Boade, with just two NWSL seasons under her belt. She logged a ton of minutes at center back in her rookie season, but primarily stepped into a defensive midfield role in year two and shined. Right off the bat, that versatility makes the 24-year-old a valuable pick for her new team.

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