The Philadelphia Independence named defender Heather Mitts as one of their unprotected players for the upcoming Women's Professional Soccer expansion draft, which will help the new Buffalo/Rochester franchise fill out its inaugural roster.
If Mitts is chosen in the draft, which will take place November 4, it would not be her first departure from the Philadelphia soccer scene. The first time was after the Women's United Soccer Association's last season in 2003. Not long thereafter, her husband, A.J. Feeley, was traded from the Eagles to the Miami Dolphins.
Feeley returned to Philadelphia from 2006 to 2008, but Mitts' only visit to the local soccer scene during that time was a U.S. national team friendly here in 2008. She played the 2009 WPS season in Boston.
Mitts is the most prominent name of any of the 21 players leaguewide that will be available to WPS' eighth club. Philadelphia also left midfielder Lyndsey Patterson and defender Sarah Senty unprotected. The only other players available that you might have heard of are Atlanta Beat midfielder Angie Kerr and Washington Freedom forward Christie Welsh. Both have played for the U.S. national team.
Each team also protected ten players on its roster. The rest, from what I can tell, became free agents - the language in the league's statement is a bit unclear, but the Independence's subsequent press release spells things out better.
The goal was to get to a set of 13 players that would then be designated as protected or unprotected. Obviously, there are more than 13 places on the roster. So the first step was to count the number of players with existing contracts in place. For the Independence, those players were Mitts, Amy Rodriguez and Caroline Seger.
The Independence then exercised contract options on ten players: Senty, Patterson, Danesha Adams, Jen Buczkowski, Allison Falk, Val Henderson, Nikki Krzysik, Lori Lindsey and Holmfridur Magnusdottir. From that group, three players were designated as unprotected and ten as protected.
That left eight players as free agents with whom the Independence will try to negotiate new contracts: Christina DiMartino, Gina DiMartino, Kelly Henderson, Estelle Johnson, Robyn Jones, Sara Larsson, Katherine Reynolds, and Lianne Sanderson.
Western New York, as the franchise is officially being called right now, can select up to nine players from the expansion draft pool. A team that has a player picked can then add another player to the protected list, and no team can lose more than two players in the draft.
You can see the full list of unprotected and protected players here. Free agents, of which there are many at the moment, also cannot be selected in the expansion draft.
Are you surprised that Mitts was left unprotected? Do you think she'll be taken in the draft?