New Look Spirit Hope to Return to NWSL Playoffs
Germantown’s own professional sports franchise, the Washington Spirit women’s soccer team, will begin its third season on Friday on the road against the Houston Dash. The Spirit home opener will be April 18 at 7 pm as they host defending National Women’s Soccer League champions FC Kansas City.
The Spirit, who came within one game of the NWSL championship game last year, have made a number of off-season changes and will begin the 2015 season with a very different team than they had in 2014.
One of the first changes the team made is the introduction of new uniform kits. The 2015 Spirit game jersey will be red and blue, a change from last year’s red and white kits.
The Spirit, who play home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, will once again be led by general manager and head coach Mark Parsons. Parsons is assisted by returning assistant coach KJ Spisak and goalkeeping coach Lloyd Yaxley. Also added to the coaching staff this season is assistant Hayley Siegel.
Parsons and his staff led the Spirit to the playoffs last year finishing 10-9-5 in the regular season. The Spirit lost a close semi-final match in Seattle against the Reign to conclude the 2014 campaign.
In January, the team drafted three players, defenders Megan Oyster and Caprice Dydasco both from UCLA and Whitney Church from Penn State. The Spirit were to have only one pick in this year’s draft but some wheeling and dealing on draft day got them three picks.
The Spirit traded last season’s top scorer, forward Jodie Taylor to the Portland Thorns in exchange the No. 13 overall pick and two second round picks in the 2016 College Draft. The Spirit selected Chicago native Megan Oyster with the pick.
All three U.S. Women’s National Team players from last year will be returning including goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defenders Ali Krieger and Crystal Dunn.
Other national team players on the team this season include Veronica Perez who is returning from last season and Ari Romero, an off season acquisition from the Houston Dash. Perez and Romero play on the Mexican National Team. Canadian international Diana Matheson is returning to her third season with the Spirit.
Matheson, a fan favorite, continues to recover from a torn ACL suffered in Canadian National Team game on Oct. 25. Recovery time for a torn ACL typically takes at least six months to a year, and Matheson is hopeful to be able to return to form in time to play in the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be held in Canada beginning in June.
Perez, Romero, and Matheson will join the Spirit following the World Cup at which point they will be added to the roster.
Defensively, the Spirit picked up three defenders in the draft --Oyster, Dydasco, and Church. The backline has also been injected with more experienced players including Katherine Reynolds and Estelle Johnson who both previously played for the Western New York Flash.
In midfield, the addition of Angela Salem from Western New York and Joanna Lohman from the Boston Breakers will bring a strong defensive element. Meanwhile, Amanda Da Costa who most recently played for FAWSL Champion Liverpool Ladies will be a welcome attacking option.
Up top, the Spirit will be looking to an international trio including Spanish striker Laura del Rio, Argentine striker Estefania Banini and Nigerian striker Francisca Ordega to produce goals as the primary attacking force for the side. The Spirit’s American forwards Tiffany Weimer and Caroline Miller are both returning from injuries sustained in 2014 and both will be dangerous options as they regain match fitness and sharpness.
The Washington Spirit will begin its 2015 season on the road facing the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday, April 10. The Spirit will make its home debut against FC Kansas City at Maureen Hendricks Field the following weekend on Saturday, April 18 at 7 p.m.
Washington Spirit season tickets are available now (10 home matches), with packages starting as low as $170.