Canadian internationals Stephanie Labbe and Shelina Zadorsky will return to the Washington Spirit for the 2017 season, Canada Soccer and NWSL announced today. Labbe and Zadorsky are each allocated players, meaning their salaries are subsidized by their federation. Diana Matheson, a Canadian midfielder allocated to the Spirit since 2013, was traded to the Seattle Reign, per Matheson’s request.
Labbe and Zadorsky were each originally allocated to the Spirit in 2016 and will start their second season with the club. There were rumors surrounding the Spirit’s entire Canadian contingent during the offseason, but two of the three have stayed on. Given the exodus of high profile players from the Spirit this offseason, retaining two internationals is a bright spot for the club.
Labbe and Kelsey Wys competed in preseason last year for the starting goalkeeper spot, with Labbe getting the job to start the year. After returning from the Olympics- where she started for the bronze medal-winning Canadians - Labbe never reclaimed her starting spot. Labbe finished 2016 with five shutouts in eight appearances. All signs point to Labbe being the undisputed starter in 2017, as Wys will be out for months due to a torn ACL suffered on loan with the W-League’s Newcastle Jets.
Zadorsky became a fixture at center back this past season and helped the team become one of the league’s strongest defenses. This improvement was crucial for the Spirit, who struggled to prevent goals throughout their first three seasons. With Ali Krieger and Megan Oyster among the offseason departures, and fullback Caprice Dydasco only roughly halfway through her recovery from a torn ACL suffered in the NWSL final, the Spirit will lean heavily on Zadorsky throughout 2017.