The Washington Spirit traded Christine Nairn and the NWSL rights to goalkeeper Madalyn Schiffel to the Seattle Reign last week in exchange for midfielder Havana Solaun, the #3 and #36 overall picks in the upcoming NWSL draft, and a 2nd round pick in 2018. Much was made about Nairn’s departure, but we wanted to know more about what Solaun could do for a team suddenly short in the midfield. So we went to Ride of the Valkyries, the people that would know best. Jacob Cristobal is here to fill you in on what to expect from the newest Spirit player:
Hello Washington Spirit fans. It's been a tumultuous offseason for your team and we understand the frustration and skepticism to trust the process. We don't know what's going to happen next to your team, but we do know you are getting midfielder Havana Solaun and that is something you can feel good about.
So what will you be getting in Havana Solaun?
Here's what we at Ride of the Valkyries know about Solaun and what Spirit fans can look forward to.
Her rookie year in 2015 didn't get a proper start as she injured her ankle in the pre-season, requiring multiple surgeries. Solaun admitted the year-long recovery was a struggle for her but 2016 saw moments of the potential that got her drafted by Laura Harvey. Even with the injury, the potential on her remained high that she got called into a US U-23 camp back in January.
Solaun viewed that camp as a warmup to getting into Reign's training camp and helped her getting back on the field after being off it for a year. Solaun is an attacking midfielder and as the position suggests, she can set up for others as well as finish it herself. The two moments in 2016 that stick out were her getting the start and going the full 90 minutes against Arsenal Ladies in May and against Houston Dash in June. The latter saw her claim her first professional goal.
It's a small sample size, but like with most college players that Laura Harvey has drafted so far, the difficulty has always been getting the kids enough playing time. And with a team like Seattle Reign FC that has been stacked with world-class talent, making the starting eleven is easier said than done. It's not an indictment on Solaun. Her going to Washington Spirit presents a lot more playing time for her to show everyone what she's got.
Much like when Christine Nairn went to Washington in 2014, the potential is there for Havana Solaun to grow and become a stalwart. It might be tough for Spirit fans to see their favorites go, but you can feel optimistic about the potential of Solaun to where she can become the Spirit fan's new favorite.
Our thanks to Jacob for giving us more information on Solaun’s prospects with Washington. Make sure to follow Ride of the Valkyries at @rovalks.