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NWSL Signs Network Contract Amid Washington Spirit’s Tumultuous Off-Season

As the popularity of the National Women’s Soccer League continues to increase, the league, last week, announced a new partnership with A+E Networks to have NWSL games broadcast every Saturday during the season on A+E’s Lifetime cable network. The move comes two weeks after the Washington Spirit, Germantown’s hometown professional team, traded yet another star and fan favorite away.

On Jan. 23, the Spirit announced that the team had traded Canada National Team midfielder Diana Matheson to the Seattle Reign FC in exchange for the rights to 2017 rookie Arielle Ship and a 2018 draft pick.

The move adds Matheson to the list of Spirit players who helped the team make it to the NWSL Championship last season, but will not be with the team in the 2017 season. In November, the team traded captain and USWNT standout Ali Krieger to Orlando. Shortly after that, the team traded starting midfielder, and fan favorite Christine Nairn to the Seattle Reign for a player and three draft picks. The Spirit also traded young defender Megan Oyster to the Boston Breakers. In January, it was announced that Crystal Dunn, the USWNT superstar, NWSL Golden Boot, NWSL MVP winner, would not return to the Spirit as she had signed with Chelsea Ladies FC in England. The Spirit have also lost last year’s leading scorer, Estefanía Banini, who has decided to play in Spain's Primera División club Valencia Féminas CF.

The Spirit scored 30 goals in the 2016 season, 15 came from Banini (5), Dunn (2), Nairn (3), Matheson (4), and Krieger (1).

During her 67 appearances with the Spirit, Matheson notched 23 goals and 12 assists, both club records. Her 23 goals is tied for ninth all-time in the league. Despite missing time to win her second consecutive Olympic bronze medal with Canada in 2016, the Oakville, Ontario native scored four goals in the NWSL, tied for second on the Spirit. The Canada National Team veteran has been a member of four FIFA Women’s World Cup teams (2003, 2007, 2011, 2015) and three Olympic teams (2008, 2012, 2016).

“I want to thank Diana for all she has invested in our club,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “She has been a true professional and contributed in many ways to the growth, development, and success of our team.”