The Washington Spirit announced one move and clarified contract situations for their entire roster today, as the unveiling of the NWSL waiver wire marked the unofficial start of the league’s silly season. Winger Tiffany Weimer was waived, while Washington exercised contract options on goalkeeper Kelsey Wys, defenders Whitney Church and Estelle Johnson, midfielder/defender Mallory Eubanks, and midfielder Andi Sullivan.
Weimer, 34, played 84 minutes spread across three appearances for the Spirit in 2018. She joined the team after being selected in the Boston Breakers dispersal draft, but was traded before the season began to the Houston Dash, who per the Spirit contacted them in pursuit of the veteran wide player. Bizarrely, the Dash opted to cut her loose soon thereafter, and the Spirit claimed Weimer off waivers. Weimer’s playing time was limited in the back half of the season due to a knee injury that required surgery. Because of her dispersal draft status, Weimer did not count towards the 20-player NWSL roster limit in 2018.
The Spirit also announced that they had extended new contract offers to 12 players. Goalkeeper DiDi Haracic; defender Caprice Dydasco; midfielders Estefania Banini, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Tori Huster, Joanna Lohman, and Havana Solaun; and forwards Cali Farquharson, Ashley Hatch, Cheyna Matthews, Francisca Ordega, and Arielle Ship were all offered new deals. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who will spend the offseason on loan with Sydney FC, had previously signed a new contract.
As of now, the Spirit’s four Federation Players (USWNT trio Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh, and Taylor Smith, and Canada’s Rebecca Quinn) will remain on the team’s roster under that status. However, US Soccer and Canada Soccer will evaluate their lists ahead of the 2019 season, and with Smith going nearly the entire season without being called up by Jill Ellis, it is safe to expect that she will no longer be a Federation Player next year.
That leaves the Spirit with 22 players either under contract or with an offer in hand. Currently, NWSL rosters are capped at 20, and with the end of the Breakers dispersal protections, that would leave Washington obliged to make cuts. However, before this year’s NWSL championship game, the league’s managing director of operations Amanda Duffy said that rosters will be larger next season:
Amanda Duffy says #NWSL rosters will expand roster sizes next season. This has been a HUGE request from coaches across the league, and mitigates some tricky issues for players 20-24+ who essentially train all year without compensation.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) September 21, 2018
That said, this figures to be a busy offseason for the Spirit. Aside from having to hire a permanent head coach, whether that be interim boss Tom Torres or someone else, they’re also coming off of a disastrous season. With a roster in desperate need of increased defensive depth and coming off of a season that was a harsh reminder of what a few injuries can do to a team, Washington may be at the center of what is looking like a pretty wild offseason for the entire league.