Washington Spirit midfielder Joanna Lohman has torn her left ACL. Lohman was forced out of Saturday’s season opener in the 22nd minute, and an MRI over the weekend confirmed a tear, which generally requires 6-9 months of time to rehabilitate. As a result, Lohman is expected to miss the remainder of the 2017 season. Lohman announced the injury in a statement on Twitter:
Lohman had a career-best season in 2016 and was expected to be an integral part of the Spirit’s midfield this year. At the age of 34, she joins Cali Farquharson, Caprice Dydasco, and Kelsey Wys on the list of Spirit players to suffer a torn ACL since early September of last year.
Lohman went down in the early minutes of the Spirit’s 1-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage, but tried to play through the injury for ten or so minutes before being unable to carry on. She was replaced by Line Sigvardsen Jensen in the 22nd minute.
The Spirit’s midfield was expected to be the team’s main strength in 2017. Lohman functioned as the number eight role and frequently entered the Spirit’s attack, a more crucial role with the departures of Crystal Dunn and Estefania Banini. Lohman is also the most recognizable player on the team both locally and nationally, and the Spirit seem ill-suited to cope with the loss of such a big personality on or off the field.
Sigvardsen Jensen, a member of Denmark’s national team, will likely be Lohman’s replacement. Since arriving in the middle of last season, Sigvardsen Jensen has largely backed up Tori Huster as Washington’s most defensive-minded midfielder.
However, on Saturday she stepped into Lohman’s role, with Huster staying deep. Perhaps not surprisingly, Sigvardsen Jensen was rather slow in that different role, and had a rough performance. Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra could put Sigvardsen Jensen in Huster’s role and play Huster in the number eight role, as was seen in two different preseason games. Rookie Meggie Dougherty Howard can also function in Lohman’s role, and will likely see significant minutes going forward either as a starter or as the first midfielder off the bench.
Regardless of Lohman’s replacement, this is a significant loss for the Spirit. Lohman’s work rate and ability to be a spark on both sides of the ball set her apart from many NWSL midfielders, and she was set to play a key role for the Spirit this year. While Washington has options to step in for her, it’s safe to say no one on the roster plays the sort of soccer Lohman does. Finding a way to make up for that will be yet another challenge for a team that already has a lot on their plate.