Ahead of the upcoming 2024 NWSL Expansion draft, the NC Courage have received expansion draft protection and allocation money from the Utah Royals FCs in exchange for the Courage midfielders, Emily Gray and Frankie Tagliaferri.
In a press release today, the North Carolina Courage announced the completion of a trade with 2024 NWSL expansion club Utah Royals FC. The trade means the Courage will receive protection in the upcoming NWSL Expansion Draft and $30,000 in allocation money. The Utah Royals FC will receive midfielders Emily Gray and Frankie Tagliaferri from the Courage. The trade was executed prior to the close of the trade window on Sunday and announced jointly by the clubs on Monday.
North Carolina Football club’s Chief Soccer Officer Curt Johnson said both are great soccer players, and even better people.
“We are grateful for their contributions to our club over the last two seasons,” Johnson said.
“This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly. We wish them both all the best going forward.”
Emily Gray, who played college soccer at Virgina Tech was the third overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft for the North Carolina Courage. The Sewell, New Jersey native appeared in seven matches and made four starts between Challenge Cup and regular season action as a rookie, helping the Courage to the 2022 Challenge Cup title. She missed the entirety of this past season (2023) with a torn ACL.
Leading the team to a trio of NCAA tournament appearances, Gray also became the highest draft pick in Virginia Tech history. As a member of the Hokies squad, Gray had 69 appearances over four years. She concluded her college career tied for fourth in program history for goals with 27, and second for assists with 24. Gray earned All-ACC honors twice.
In a pair of seasons with the NC Courage, Frankie Tagliaferri appeared in a total of 19 matches. The midfielder ended her time with a pair of goals and assists each. She helped the Courage to back-to-back Challenge Cup championships, the first time any NWSL club had accomplished the feat.
Tagliaferri played college soccer at a combination of Penn State and Rutgers. As a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions, she had 90 appearances, 64 starts, 5,722 minutes, 27 goals, and 26 assists.
In her fifth season, she transferred to New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Rutgers, leading the them to the NCAA Final Four. She started a total of 25 games, scored 13 goals, and assisted on nine goals.
Her decorated collegiate career saw her garner 2021 All-America First Team, 2019-20 All-America Second Team, 2021 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year and three All-Big Ten First Team honors.
2024 NWSL Expansion Draft
Just a little under a month away, the 2024 NWSL Expansion draft will take place on December 15, 2023. The Courage now have protection from one of the two expansion franchises for the upcoming NWSL Expansion Draft, but will still need to either come to terms with the other expansion 2024 expansion team, Northern California’s Bay FC, or will lose two players to Northern California’s Bay FC. The expansion draft will consist of 12 rounds, with both expansion teams allowed to select up to 12 players. Neither team can pull more than two players from the existing NWSL teams.