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Washington Spirit Parts Ways with Starting Goalie Labbé

In a move that is not unsurprising, the Washington Spirit have elected to not retain the rights to goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé for the 2018 season.

What was surprising was that once the NWSL made Labbé’s rights available to all clubs via the NWSL Distribution Process, she was not selected by any of the league’s eight other teams and is now Discovery Eligible within the league.

Labbé took a medical leave of absence for the remainder of the 2017 NWSL season, the team announced yesterday. The move comes after Labbé missed last two games with what the team called “excused absences” during last Saturday’s loss at Portland and last Wednesday’s home loss to North Carolina. Labbé also did not play in the August 26 home game against Boston but was listed as a sub.

Labbé appeared in 25 regular season games totaling 2,250 minutes across the 2016 and 2017 NWSL seasons. Labbé recorded 2 clean sheets in 17 matches for the Spirit in 2017.

Labbé, 31, won a Bronze Medal at the Rio Olympics as a member of the Canadian Women’s National Team, first joined the Spirit during the 2016 offseason, after playing with KIF Örebro in Sweden the previous three years. She was also just named to the CWNT roster for the upcoming Algarve Cup which will be played February 28 through March 7.

The move leaves the Spirt with goalkeepers Didi Haracic, Kelsey Wys, who were with the team last season, and Aubrey Bledsoe who the acquired in a trade with Orlando in January.

The Spirit also announced that five Spirit players had been called up to the United States Women’s National Team to be part of the 26-player preliminary roster for the 2018 SheBelieves Cup.

Washington Spirit defender Taylor Smith, midfielders Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan, and forwards Ashley Hatch and Mallory Pugh have all been named by Coach Jill Ellis’ preliminary roster. This is the first time five Washington Spirit Players have been named to the same U.S. roster.

The U.S. team will convene in Orlando on Feb. 19 for a week of training before a 23-player roster will head to Columbus, Ohio to kick off the third annual edition of the tournament on Thursday, March 1 at MAPFRE Stadium. England will open against France (4:00 pm) followed by the USA against Germany (7:00 pm on ESPN2).