The Washington Spirit will open the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League regular season on Saturday night with a road game against Seattle Reign FC. Kickoff from UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium is set for 10:00 pm with a live stream available on the go90 app or website.
Washington is set to debut a new-look roster, which includes the additions of four U.S. Women’s National Team players and several other key offseason acquisitions.
In a trade with the North Carolina Courage announced on January 16, Washington acquired U.S. Women’s National Team defender Taylor Smith and U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch, who was named the 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year after scoring seven goals in her debut season.
Just days later, the Spirit selected U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan with the top overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. Sullivan is an alumni of Bethesda Soccer Club. The Spirit also selected Canadian international defender/midfielder Rebecca Quinn with the third overall pick.
On January 30, Washington selected U.S. international midfielder Rose Lavelle with the No. 1 pick in the NWSL Dispersal Draft. It was the fifth acquisition of a U.S. or Canadian international player under the age of 25 by the Spirit in a two-week span.
With Quinn, five total U.S. internationals including forward Mallory Pugh — who led the Spirit with six goals as a rookie in 2017 — as well as returning midfielders Yanara Aedo (Chile) and Estefania Banini (Argentina), and forward Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), the Spirit roster feature nine total players who are members of their respective national teams.
Just a few of the team’s additional key returning players include: defender Estelle Johnson, who was named to the NWSL Team of the Month twice in 2017; midfielder Havana Solaun, who scored five goals and led the team with four assists in her first season with the club; and midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, who led the team in passing as a rookie.
Midfielder Tori Huster, the longest-tenured Spirit player, enters her sixth season with the club after joining in 2013 ahead of the inaugural NWSL season. Six other players: Johnson, Ordega, goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, defenders Whitney Church and Caprice Dydasco, and midfielder Joanna Lohman are each entering their fourth seasons in Washington.
Saturday’s season-opener will be the first of three meetings between Washington and Seattle this season, two of which will be played in the Pacific Northwest. The Spirit and Reign both enter the 2018 campaign with several new weapons on their roster.
“Seattle is always a really difficult place to play,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “There’s a couple of teams that have made a lot of changes [in the offseason]. We’re one of them, and I think Seattle has as well. We’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
On Seattle’s side, first-year head coach Vlatko Andonovski makes his debut with a Reign roster that features a group of newcomers highlighted by U.S. international midfielder Allie Long — who joined the team via trade from Portland Thorns FC — and England Women’s National Team forward Jodie Taylor, who joined the Reign from English club Arsenal.
Long and Taylor join a Reign team anchored by two of the league’s top playmakers in 2017: U.S. international forward Megan Rapinoe (12 goals, 1 assist) and Japan international forward Nahomi Kawasum (6 goals, 9 assists).
Additional key offseason pick-ups for Seattle include veteran defender Yael Averbuch, midfielder Morgan Andrews, goalkeeper Michelle Betos, defender Theresa Nielsen, defender Megan Oyster and forward Jasmyne Spencer.
Single-game tickets for the Spirit’s regular season home games, including their March 31 home opener against the Orlando Pride, are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927.
Top: New Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan was the top overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. She is also a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. Photo credit ISI Photos.
Next: Spirit also will return U.S. Women’s National Team phenom Mallory Pugh. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: Midfielder Tori Huster, the longest-tenured Spirit player, enters her sixth season with the club after joining in 2013 ahead of the inaugural NWSL season. Photo by Germantown Pulse.