The Washington Spirit have announced their initial roster for the 2018 NWSL season ahead of this weekend’s opening game against Seattle Reign FC. The Spirit enter this year with four Federation Players (USWNT regulars Rose Lavelle, Mallory Pugh, and Taylor Smith, plus Canada’s Rebecca Quinn), plus #1 overall draft pick Andi Sullivan and striker Ashley Hatch, the 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year. Last year, Washington had just two Federation Players at the start of the season.
The Spirit will start the season with 23 players on their official roster, but the NWSL only allows for 20 roster spots. Lavelle, selected in the dispersal draft that followed the Boston Breakers ceasing operations, essentially comes with a bonus roster spot, meaning that she does not count towards the 20-player limit.
Forward Cheyna Matthews will miss the season on maternity leave, but remains under contract and is listed on the roster despite not taking up a spot. Arielle Ship, who tore her ACL late last season, is on the 45 day disabled list; to add her to the active roster, Washington will have to waive someone to open up a spot.
Elsewhere, Washington’s squad is very attack-heavy, with just five players listed as defenders. Head coach Jim Gabarra will rely on the versatility of the team’s midfield, which includes Sullivan and Tori Huster (who have both played center back at times). Meggie Dougherty Howard has also seen time in training at right back, and looked comfortable there in the Spirit’s first preseason game.
Washington has changed dramatically over the past year. Ten players in this year’s squad were not on the opening day roster for 2017, with six players arriving sometime in the last three months. Even with certain holdovers, there is a certain lack of familiarity. Morgan Proffitt was a late-season acquisition, only making three appearances in 2017. Yanara Aedo and Joanna Lohman, meanwhile, spent most of last year injured, with Lohman’s appearance in last year’s opener before tearing her ACL the only appearance either player made.
Washington has maintained the NWSL rights for their unsigned college draft picks, as well as dispersal draft selection Elizabeth Wenger (who was initially a college draft pick of Boston’s). Of that group, Mallory Eubanks and Maddie Huster were the only players to see preseason minutes, with Eubanks scoring the Spirit’s only preseason goal. Schuyler DeBree and Rachel Moore are completing their studies at Duke and William & Mary, respectively, while defender Brittany Basinger was not able to train at full speed during preseason due to an ankle injury. With the Spirit carrying three goalkeepers on the roster to start the season, it would not be a surprise to see someone from this group granted a roster spot down the road.
The full roster is as follows:
2018 Washington Spirit roster
|Rebecca Quinn||DF||Y||Federation Player (Canada)|
|Taylor Smith||DF||Y||Federation Player (USA)|
|Yanara Aedo||MF||Y||International (Chile)|
|Estefania Banini||MF||Y||International (Argentina)|
|Meggie Dougherty Howard||MF||Y|
|Rose Lavelle||MF||Y||Federation Player (USA); Dispersal Draft|
|Francisca Ordega||FW||Y||International (Nigeria)|
|Mallory Pugh||FW||Y||Federation Player (USA)|
|Arielle Ship||FW||N||45 day disabled list|