It makes for a neat and interesting storyline that Megan Rapinoe is unprotected for Thursday’s NWSL expansion draft, right up until you think about it.
For one thing, Rapinoe is 36, and as much as selecting her would allow an expansion team to have an immediate drawing card, she surely is not a player to build a team around in 2022. That’s not to say that Rapinoe isn’t still an elite player, as she scored six goals in 11 games for OL Reign this year. It’s the part about her playing only 11 games.
The two forwards that OL Reign did protect in the draft are both 24 years old: Ally Watt and the club’s 2021 leading scorer Bethany Belcar. Even that might be a bit much, though, because of the Seattle club’s specific expansion draft scenario.
San Diego Wave FC can pick any of OL Reign’s unprotected players, but Angel City FC is barred from selecting any OL Reign forwards. That means only needing an idea of what one team is going to do, and San Diego already has a mid-30s, accomplished international striker in another former OL Reign face, Jodie Taylor of England, who played in Seattle from 2018-20 and spent this past season with the Orlando Pride, scoring three goals in 13 games.
The Wave also acquired Makenzy Doniak, Katie Johnson, and Kelsey Turnbow in a trade with the Chicago Red Stars, making it that much less likely that San Diego will target Rapinoe in the draft.
That would be welcome news not only for Seattle’s soccer fans, but maybe for hoops heads, too. Sue Bird, after all, has not yet said whether she will return to the Storm for one more season or call it a career, and when you’re making that kind of a decision, your partner’s job moving a thousand miles away is the kind of thing that can be an influence on your thinking.