Washington Spirit defender Kassey Kallman has announced that she will not play for the team this season in an Instagram post. Kallman, 25, had been offered a contract for 2018, but has opted to step away from the game for the time being. Per her announcement, she plans to move to Denver, where her fiancé Eric Miller (a defender for the Colorado Rapids) lives.
With a conflicted heart, I’m announcing that I will not be returning to the NWSL for this upcoming season as of now. Stepping away from the game I love has been a tough decision, but I’m certain it’s the right decision for me at this time. I’m definitely not calling it a retirement. If situations align in the future I would love nothing more than stepping back on the field in the best league in the world. With that said, I am so excited that after more than 7 years of distance, @emillller and I will be living in the same place. #DenverHereICome #NowINeedAJob
Kallman holds an NWSL record for the most consecutive minutes played. She set the record in her second match with the Spirit, extending it to 4,019 minutes before being substituted in the 59th minute of a May loss at Seattle Reign FC. Kallman’s record extended back into the 2014 season. She came to Washington in the trade that brought Kristie Mewis and the #1 distribution ranking spot (which was later used to sign Mallory Pugh) from Boston, sending Megan Oyster the other way.
Kallman’s decision leaves the Spirit with one fewer player on a very crowded preseason roster. At the moment, between players under contract, dispersal draft picks, and college draft picks, Washington has 31 players vying for a maximum of 23 roster spots (the normal 20, plus extra spots provided for dispersal draft picks Rose Lavelle, Elizabeth Wenger, and Tiffany Weimer).
However, being a defender, Kallman was part of the Spirit’s thinnest group in terms of depth. Without Kallman, Washington has four out-and-out defenders under contract (Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco, and new acquisition Taylor Smith). Kallman spent most of her NWSL career as a center back, where the Spirit appear to be comfortable. Rebecca Quinn, selected 3rd overall in last month’s draft and a starter for Canada, may end up as a center back despite playing far more often as a defensive midfielder at Duke. Wenger, a center back during her time at Georgetown, can be carried on the roster without taking up a spot. Draft pick Schuyler DeBree was described by head coach Jim Gabarra as capable of playing “anywhere across the back line,” but saw most of her collegiate minutes in the middle.
Left back is where Kallman’s absence may be felt more keenly. Though not a specialist at the position, she spent plenty of time there early in the season while Dydasco recovered from a torn ACL suffered in the 2016 NWSL final. Dydasco seems set to be the starter, with DeBree potentially an option to back her up. Another draft pick to keep an eye on is Penn St. product Brittany Basinger, a natural left back who Washington knows well due to her time with the Spirit Reserves.