The Washington Spirit’s offseason sea change will apparently continue, as The Washington Post’s Steve Goff is reporting that the club is on the brink of trading attacking midfielder Diana Matheson. A Spirit original and two-time bronze medal winner with Canada, Matheson is Washington’s all-time leading scorer, with 23 goals in her four seasons with the club (to go with 11 assists).
According to Goff’s report, the Spirit want “a young player, draft pick and perhaps other considerations” in exchange for Matheson, a fan favorite at the Maryland Soccerplex. Given the number of players that will start the season injured - Cali Farquharson, Caprice Dydasco, and Kelsey Wys are all in the process of recovering from torn ACLs suffered in the last four months - it would probably be in the Spirit’s best interest to acquire a player in whatever package deal Matheson brings in.
If the Spirit do follow through on this plan to ship Matheson out, midfield lynchpin Tori Huster (who re-signed with the club back in November) will be the only Spirit player who was with the team from the NWSL’s debut season in 2013. Matheson would also add to a long list of allocated national team players to leave the Spirit, with Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride) and Crystal Dunn (Chelsea Ladies) preceding her. At this time, the only allocated players left on the Washington roster are Stephanie Labbe - who Goff says will return after being strongly linked to a move away - and Shelina Zadorsky, both members of Canada’s national team.
More troublesome for Spirit fans, though, is seeing yet another beloved player heading to another club. Krieger, the team’s captain for years, and Dunn were immensely popular both because of their USWNT success and their personalities. Krieger’s dedication to the team was emphasized last August, when she returned quickly from the Olympics to play for the Spirit well before any other US player got back from Brazil. In between those losses, Washington also saw Christine Nairn - an ever-present midfielder who, like Krieger, has local roots - request a trade and sent defender Megan Oyster to Boston.
With training camp opening in mid-March, there is still time for more moves in what has already been a tumultuous offseason. The Spirit still have a deep attack, though a lot of the creative burden will fall on Kristie Mewis (acquired in the Oyster trade) and young players like Cheyna Williams, Havana Solaun, and recent draft pick Meggie Dougherty Howard (assuming she is signed). The Spirit also appear thin enough at both fullback spots that the 352 we saw in the NWSL final could be in play as Washington’s preferred formation in 2017. Alyssa Kleiner is the team’s only natural fullback, with Whitney Church and Kassey Kallman able to fill in at right and left back, respectively, if need be.