In the wake of the trade of team captain Ali Krieger, the trade of midfield stalwart Christine Nairn, and the continued rumors swirling around USWNT starter Crystal Dunn, the fans of the Washington Spirit have felt shellshocked and angry. Head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra has taken the unusual step of penning a letter directly to the fans, in an attempt to reassure them about the direction of the club that was mere seconds from the NWSL championship.
Gabarra says that these moves have all been made with an eye towards 2017 and the need to make the team better at every turn. Specifically, he says that:
In doing so, there are numerous factors and decisions to be made, often based on dozens of moving parts involving multiple points of interest. In most every case, the public will never see or know all of the reasons, so it’s very understandable that official public releases of information can cause strong emotions.
In a similar vein, he continues that:
Reaching the NWSL Championship match in Houston was great, however it’s still my job to look forward and continue to put things in place that give the club the best chance to keep reaching for our goals. As is the case with every team in pro sports changes must be made because no matter how successful a season, things can always be better.
He closes the letter by emphatically stating that these trades are happening for on-field purposes only, and not any of the rumored reasons that have swirled around them:
But I assure you that the only factors ever used in making these decisions are about how to put the best team on the field every day. I would never make any player trades based on any other factors, and ask for our fans’ consideration as we go through the changes that all NWSL teams go through this time of year.
Only time will tell if these reasons pan out and if the team is actually better (or even as good) as the team was this season. With a draft class that looks to be strong coming this winter and maybe the potential of multiple new allocated players (pending the the resolution of the USWNT collective bargaining agreement), it could work out in Gabarra’s favor. However, it could also blow up in his face if it doesn’t; only time will tell which it is, but it is natural and appropriate to feel anxiety at all these changes without yet knowing the final resolution.