Washington Spirit have officially re-signed veteran midfielder and co-captain Tori Huster for the 2023 season. Huster entered free agency this year under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, after playing for the Spirit since their inaugural season in 2013.
Huster has been an important playmaker for the team, adept at winning the ball and getting teammates into good goals scoring, or contributing, situations. Then, in the Spirit’s 2021 playoff match against North Carolina Courage, she was cruelly struck by an Achilles tear.
Tori began her professional career playing for the Boston Renegades and Colorado Rush in the semi-professional W-League while on summer breaks from Florida State University. In 2012, she was drafted by Western New York Flash of the Women’s Professional Soccer League-Elite, and played one season for them before the league folded. She was then selected by the Spirit with their second pick in the NWSL supplemental draft. Now, she’s one of only twenty-one players to have been rostered in the league every season of its existence, and one of only five remaining with her original team.
Washington’s first (and so far only) free agency signing being the return of a long-time player may not deliver the drama some were hoping for in this free agency period, but it is a testament to how much Huster means to this team. In the team’s announcement, President of Soccer Operations Mark Krikorian described signing her as “a top offseason priority.”
Her leadership was evident not only in remaining a co-captain despite not playing a minute in 2022, but also in serving as President of the NWSL Players’ Association during the negotiation of their first collective bargaining agreement. Huster was doing all of this while excelling on the pitch as well. Before her injury, Huster was using her craft and experience to help the Spirit’s young attackers flourish. One stunning move serves as an illustration, as her Cruyff turn created a game-winning goal against Lousiville.
But there were plenty to choose from. Such as the time she effortlessly picked the pocket of a Kansas City player before feeding the ball to Trinity Rodman for another important goal.
The Spirit have not indicated whether Huster is fit to return to play yet, but, with moves like those, she will be a welcome on-the-field addition as the team works to rebound from its 2022 season. Regardless, her determination, resilience, and leadership will continue to inspire off the field.
2023 Roster (so far)
Goalkeepers (1): Aubrey Kingsbury
Defenders (2): Emily Sonnett; Sam Staab
Midfielders (8): Jordan Baggett; Dorian Bailey; Bayley Feist; Anna Heilferty; Tori Huster; Ashley Sanchez; Marissa Sheva; Andi Sullivan
Forwards (4): Maddie Elwell; Ashley Hatch; Tara McKeown; Trinity Rodman