2014 Roster Rules

Roster Composition
The full roster shall be no less than 18 and no more than 20 total Players. All Players are eligible for selection as part of the game-day squad during the Regular Season and Playoffs Games.

  • 18-20 Player Roster
  • Teams may have no more than 20 active (registered) Players under contract on their Roster at any one time, subject to Injury Replacement exceptions.
  • Once preseason begins, Teams must make a decision on Non-Contracted Players, whose rights they hold, within 10 days once the Player reports.
  • For Players whose rights a Team holds from the previous Season, the decision must be made by March 10, 2014.


Domestic Players

A domestic Player is either a U.S. Citizen, a permanent resident (Green Card holder) or the holder of certain other special status (e.g., has been granted refugee or asylum status). There is no limit as to the number of domestic Players on a Team’s roster within general roster limits.


International Players

Each Team has three (3) international slots which may be traded, with the only condition being time (slots can be traded for one year, two years or forever). With trades, there is no limit on the number of international slots a Team may have. Any Player who does not qualify as a domestic Player in the U.S. shall be considered an international Player. Any international Player must occupy an international slot on a Team’s roster (with the exception of Canadian or Mexican Allocated Players).


Allocated Players

The term “Allocated Player” refers to a Player who is designated by her Federation to play in the League.


Amateur Players

An amateur Player is any person other than a professional Player.  An amateur Player may not receive or retain any remuneration for playing except expenses directly related to a game or games which have actually been incurred by the Player.



Teams may add Players to their roster through one of the following mechanisms:

A.           Allocations
B.           College Draft
C.           Trades
D.           Discovery
E.           Waivers
F.           Injury Replacement
G.          Goalkeeper Replacement
H.           Amateur Call-up

In order for a Team to add a Player to its roster, it must use one of the above mechanisms.  Once it has been determined that a Player may be added pursuant to one of the above mechanisms, it must then be determined if the Player’s addition would be within the relevant roster limits and guidelines.



Each NWSL Team shall be allotted Allocated Players by the League. Allocated Players are determined by individual Federations (United States, Canada and Mexico).

Allocated Players’ salaries are generally paid to the League by the respective Federations and do not count against the Salary Cap. Allocated Player housing will be provided by the Team for non-U.S. Allocated Players and counts against the Team Housing Cap.

For Teams that receive fewer than the full complement of Allocated Players, salary relief may be provided at the discretion of the League.

In the event a Team has more than the full complement of Allocated Players, that Team will provide back to the League a set salary amount to be distributed to the Teams that do not have their full complement of Allocated Players.

For Allocated Players who return to NWSL mid-Season, salary relief may be provided to their respective Teams by the League.

College Draft

The 2014 NWSL College Draft will be held on Jan. 17 in Philadelphia, consisted of four rounds of nine (9) picks for a total of 36 player selections.

All Players who have exhausted their college eligibility or who will graduate in the 2013-14 year are eligible for the College Draft. Players must be registered by Jan. 15, 2014 to be part of the College Draft. If a Player is eligible and does not register, that Player will not be able to be on the Roster of a NWSL Team until Jan. 1, 2015 – at which point that Player will become eligible as a Discovery Player.

The draft order is based upon the Teams’ on-field performance during the previous year. If Teams are tied, the Tie Breaking Procedures set forth in Exhibit 6 shall be utilized.

Undrafted Players

A Player who is on the College Draft List and is undrafted may be added to a Team’s Roster via a Discovery claim on a first-come, first-serve basis. If more than one Team selects the same Player on the same day, priority will be determined in accordance with the League’s Discovery Order.

College Protected List

 If a college Player is drafted by a Team in the College Draft, the League will attempt to sign the College Player to a contract in a salary range predetermined by the League Office.

Any college Player who has refused to sign an NWSL contract or who has refused to report to the Team to be evaluated does not need to be placed on waivers and may remain college protected.

A Player on the College Protected List is not a roster Player and may not play for the Team, since she has not signed a Player contract.

A college Player would come off a Team’s College Protected list by the Roster Compliance Date of the following Preseason (March 9, 2015) if she is not contracted by that Team. Any Player not signed at that point will become available to be claimed as a Discovery Player. The Player would then be available to all Teams through the Discovery process.


Players may be acquired in trades with League approval.

All Player trades are subject to League approval and to salary cap as well as roster size and composition constraints. Player trades cannot be made for finite periods (i.e., Players may not be "loaned" by one Team to another or temporarily swapped by Teams).

Trades may not be conditioned upon a Player passing a physical examination or unwound because she failed to do so – it is a case of "buyer beware." Teams are advised to undertake any inquiries regarding a Player’s medical condition before executing a Trade Agreement. It is also a case of "buyer beware" with regard to a Player failing to report to her new Team.

Bona fide consideration (either an exchange of Players, future Draft choices) is required in each trade of a Player. No financial consideration is permitted. Teams are able to trade future draft picks and International slots as well as Players. Teams may not structure trades such that a Player may not play against her previous Team.

The League should be consulted early in any trade discussions so that Player salaries and other Player Agreement provisions can be confirmed, Team Salary Cap impacts can be determined, any Draft positions to be traded can be confirmed, and any other matters, including the Players’ physical condition, can be discussed.

Teams must respond fully to all inquiries in anticipation of a trade regarding Player injuries, illnesses, or other matters, and provide copies of medical records as requested. It is anticipated that Team trainers and physicians will communicate directly on these matters. A Team’s failure to respond fully and accurately may result in sanctions imposed by the League as set forth under "Binding Agreement and Approval". There is, however, no prohibition against Teams trading an injured Player.

Binding Agreement and Approval

A trade is binding on the Teams from the time the Trade Agreement is executed by both Teams and submitted to the League office, but is not final until approval has been received in writing from the league office. Once the League has given approval, the trade is final except where, in the opinion of the League, egregious conduct has occurred on the part of a Team involved in a trade that was not known at the time the trade was approved.

The League shall disapprove any trade of a Player if the consideration is not clearly established and accurately disclosed on the Trade Agreement submitted to the League.

Trades of Signed Discovery Players/Slots

Teams may trade signed Discovery Players that were on their discovery lists, but may not trade Discovery Player "rights" or "slots." If a Team trades one of its signed Discovery Players, the Player will still count against its 10 Discovery slots for the Season. That is, the Player’s name will remain on the Team’s Discovery list for the remainder of the Season.

Trades of Allocated Players

Trades involving Allocated Players may take place regardless of the nationality of the Allocated Players. Teams may only trade an Allocated Player for another Allocated Player.

Trades for International Roster Spots

Teams may trade International roster spots, provided that the only condition can be the length of time the slot is traded (e.g., a slot can be traded for 1 year, 2 years or forever).

Trades for College Draft Picks

Teams trading college draft picks may not place conditions on those draft picks.

Teams are only permitted to trade selections for the next College Draft. The sole exception to this is that Teams will be permitted to trade selections from the next two College Drafts during the period of time from the conclusion of a Season through the end of the subsequent draft.

Trade Deadline

No trade may take place between the Roster Freeze and the NWSL Championship.



A discovery player is a domestic or international Player who is currently not under contract with the League. A team may claim her rights by adding her to their Discovery List.

The term "Discovery Player" may refer to both players on the Discovery List and those players under contract with the league who have been acquired through Discovery Process.

A Discovery Player request must be made to the League on an official Discovery Player Request Form (Exhibit 8) during the "Discovery Period." If approved by the League, the Player will be added to the Team’s Discovery List.

Teams may take a Player off their discovery list at any point in time.

Teams may sign up to 10 Players from the Discovery List per year during the designated Discovery Periods: six (6) in the period of September 3 – March 10 as well as an additional four (4) in the period of March 11 – August 31.

If a signed Discovery Player is traded, the Player will continue to occupy one of her former Team’s 10 Discovery List slots. The Player will not count as a Discovery Player on her new Team’s Discovery List. Teams may not trade Discovery player "rights" or "slots to another team.

The salary level and other contract conditions to be offered to a Discovery Player (as with all Player contracts) are at the discretion of the League.

Discovery Process

  • Once a Player is put on a Team’s discovery list the Team may then negotiate with the Player/agent.
  • Once on a discovery list no other Team can talk to the Player/agent as long as she remains on the list (this would be considered tampering and against league rules).
  • If another Team submits a discovery request for the same Player, the Team who holds the discovery rights will need to begin negotiations with thePlayer or release her rights.
  • If the Player is released or the offer is deemed to not be bona fide, the discovery rights for the Player will then be awarded to the second requesting Team.
  • If the Team makes a bona fide offer to the Player and she does not accept, the Player will not be eligible to be placed on another discovery list during that Season.
  • If no other Team has an interest in a Player on a Team’s discovery list the Team may sign at any time and the Player may remain on the discovery list until the end of the Season at which time she will be removed.

A list of discovery Players will be available for Teams to review in order to facilitate the process. This list is for internal use only and not to be publicized in any way.

Non-Discoverable Players

Teams may not discover Players in the pool for the full U.S. Women’s National Team. The Player pool for the USWNT is as determined by U.S. Soccer (usually posted on their website) at the time the Player is being signed by the League.

Teams may not discover a Player who played at a four-year collegiate institution during the college Season immediately prior to the date of discovery. If a Player has completed her college eligibility in the Season immediately prior to the date of her discovery and was not on the College Draft list, she shall not be permitted to play in the League for the current Season.

Discovery Period

The discovery period for Discovery Players is as set forth in the Competition Calendar. After the Roster Freeze Date the Discovery List is frozen as no signings will be made for the remainder of that Season.

Multiple Claims for the Same Player

If a Team makes a valid Discovery Player request and no other Team makes a Discovery Player request for the same Player on the same day (whether or not it’s a business day) during the Discovery Period, the Player shall be assigned to the requesting Team. In the event a Discovery Player is requested by more than one Team during the Discovery Period, the League shall award the Player to the Team per the Discovery Ranking.

The Discovery Ranking is determined via reverse order of the standings from the previous Season until Teams have played at least three (3) League games. If the waiver takes place prior to all Teams playing in at least three (3) League games priority shall be granted based upon the prior year's performance according to their point totals through the end of the Regular Season.

In the offseason, once a Team makes a Discovery claim on a player, it is moved to the bottom of the Discovery Rankings.

New expansion Teams shall be at the bottom of the Discovery Ranking. If only one of the claiming Teams participated in the prior League Season, priority shall be granted to the Team that so participated. If neither Team played in the previous Season, priority will be granted to the Team that received the lowest 1st Round College Draft pick. If the Teams are equal in points, the League shall award the Player using the Tie Breaking Procedures for determining playoff participation and seeding (see Exhibit 6).



Players may be added to a Team’s roster from the Waiver wire, through a Waiver Draft or “On- going Waivers.” See Waiver Request Form.

Current NWSL Players Waived

Teams may waive Players based on performance at any time prior to the Roster Freeze date during the NWSL Season. Teams may not waive Players between the Roster Freeze date and the date of NWSL Championship.

A Team wishing to waive a Player must first obtain a favorable medical examination of the Player – an “exit physical”, and then submit its waiver request to the League.

Claiming Period

Provided the League approves the Player being placed on waivers pursuant to the above, it will distribute a waiver notice to all Teams. A Team claiming the Player must notify the League of the measures it will take to remain roster compliant, if any such moves are necessary. Notice must be received by the League from a Team claiming a waived Player within the “Waiver Claiming Period.”

The “Waiver Claiming Period” shall commence on the day (the “Waiver Period Commencement Date”) the League gives notice to Teams and shall expire at 5:00 p.m. EST on the first business day after the Waiver Period Commencement Date (the claiming period is 24 hours).

If a Team claims a Player and no other Team claims the same Player during the Waiver Claiming Period (having regard to the time of League deadlines, set forth in the Competition Calendar), the Player shall be assigned to the claiming Team.

Waiver Order

The waiver draft order is determined via reverse order of the standings from the previous Season until Teams have played at least three (3) League games. If the waiver takes place prior to all Teams playing in at least three (3) League games priority shall be granted based upon the prior year's performance according to their point totals through the end of the Regular Season.

In the offseason, once a Team claims a Player from waivers, it is moved to the bottom of the Waiver Draft claiming order.

New expansion Teams shall be at the bottom of the waiver order. If there is more than one expansion Team in a given year, they shall be listed in reverse priority order of the College Draft order.

Multiple Claims for Same Player (Out of Season)

In the event a Player is requested by more than one Team on the same day the League shall assign the Player to the Team with the lowest points per Regular Season Game average during the previous League Season and then move up from lowest to highest. Once a Team wins a tie it is moved to the bottom of the Waiver Draft Claiming Order.


Amateur Call-Up

If a National Team Player is being called up for a National Team Match, a Team may bring in a U.S. Amateur Player to count toward the 20-Player roster. The Team is not to provide any compensation to the Amateur Player, but may cover necessary expenses as approved by the League.

An Amateur Call-up Form will be submitted and Amateur Players will sign an Amateur Player Agreement. They must be registered Amateur Players with U.S. Soccer. See Amateur Player Agreement and Registration Process Exhibit 12.

For each National Team Call-up, each Team will need to submit its Amateur Call-Up Form no less than seven (7) days prior to the Amateur Player’s participation with the Team (including training).


Disabled List

In the event a Player suffers an injury that will prohibit the Player from participating for at least 45 days, a Player may be added to a Team’s roster as a “Disabled List” replacement as set forth below. Any Player placed on the Disabled List will have to remain unavailable for a minimum of 45 days.

Disabled List replacement Players must be signed prior to the Roster Freeze Date. Any Player coming off the Disabled List following the Roster Freeze Date may be added to the Roster, but Teams must comply with the relevant Roster limits.

Where the League determines that a Player has sustained an injury that will prohibit the Player from participating for at least 45 days during the League Season, it may provide the Team roster relief, provided the full amount of the injured Player’s salary is charged to the Team’s Salary Cap in the relevant Season. Therefore, the Team is given Roster relief, but not Cap relief.

In the event where a Team has two (2) or more Players on its Disabled List, Salary Cap relief may be considered by the League.

Teams that carry or can create extra salary cap room will therefore be able to temporarily replace Players who are on the Disabled List. The budget number for the replacement Player will be calculated in the same manner as any other roster Player.

Also, if the Player suffering the injury is an international Player, the Team may replace such Player with an international Player.


Season-ending Injury Replacement

Where the League determines based on certification from a Team’s medical staff that a Player has received an injury that is beyond reasonable doubt Season ending, it may provide the Team roster relief, provided the full amount of the injured Player’s salary (or any settlement amount paid to that Player) is still charged to the Team’s Salary Cap in the relevant Season. In the event of such a determination, the injured Player shall not be eligible to play for the Team again during the Season in question. Therefore, the Team is given Roster relief, but not Salary Cap relief.  Also, if the Player suffering the Season-ending injury is an international Player, the Team may replace such Player with an international Player.

Unexpected Recovery from Season-ending Injuries

In the event a Player, who had suffered a Season-ending injury and had been replaced on the Roster by another  Player,  unexpectedly  rehabilitates  and  recovers  prior  to  the  end  of  the  Season,  she  will nonetheless be barred from playing for the Team through the end of the Season.


Goalkeeper Replacement

It is up to each Team to structure its roster to ensure that it has the best make-up to field a Team throughout the year. Teams are required to carry two (2) goalkeepers.

In the case of an injured goalkeeper, and where a Team has less than two available goalkeepers, a Team will be able to add a goalkeeper to its roster until its injured goalkeeper is back to full participation with the Team. This must be done within the salary cap.


Transfer Windows/Registration Period

U.S. Soccer will not register Player transfers or loans that take place outside of our two annual transfer windows. The Primary and Secondary Windows are set forth in the Competition Calendar.

International Transfers and Loans

With respect to international loans or transfers of Players, the Players must be registered with U.S. Soccer within the registration windows. A number of requirements must be fulfilled prior to registering a Player pursuant to a loan or transfer.

Discovery Players

With respect to Players not under contract to any club, they may be able to be registered outside the transfer windows, provided the Player was out of contract during NWSL’s immediately previous registration window. This should be contrasted with Players that have secured a release from an existing contract or whose contracts have expired outside an NWSL registration window.

College Drafted Players

With respect to U.S. Players selected in the College Draft, they may be signed and registered outside the Transfer Window provided their clearance has not been transferred outside the U.S.

With respect to International Players selected in the College Draft, they may be subject to the Transfer Windows above and may have potential work permit issues.


Roster Freeze

No changes (including waiving Players) may be made to a Team's Roster from the "Roster Freeze Date" through the day after the NWSL Championship. Teams may add a short-term replacement after the Roster Freeze Date in cases of Goalkeeper Replacement (see above) and a Player coming off of the Disabled List. The Roster Freeze Date is set forth in the Competition Calendar.


Transfer and Loans of Players by NWSL

Transfer of Players by NWSL

A Team may transfer or loan the services of any Player on a Team roster to a Team outside of NWSL, subject to League approval for any such action that would remove a Player from her NWSL Team.

Player Transfers or Loans

All contract and transfer negotiations shall be approved by the League, consistent with existing rules.

Loans of Players by NWSL

Players may be loaned by NWSL to overseas clubs during the off-Season.

Loans for certain Players may occur after the conclusion of a Team’s Season and before the NWSL Championship. In this case, there may be a reduction of such Players’ salaries for salary budget purposes. Such loans are made in the sole discretion of the League.

Players Loaned to NWSL

All terms of any arrangements contemplated between an NWSL Team or any related party and a Player to be loaned to NWSL shall be fully disclosed to the NWSL League office. The League office shall make a determination, in its sole discretion, as to the terms upon which it may accept such Player on loan.

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