The Washington Spirit have been expected to be a high-scoring team. Between USWNT starter Mallory Pugh’s continued growth, the addition of 2017 rookie of the year Ashley Hatch, and a deep group of talented attackers (we still haven’t seen Rose Lavelle, after all), observers around the NWSL have expected goals from the Spirit. Despite the bigger names, though, it’s striker Francisca Ordega leading the team’s attack, with three goals in the past three games.
And yet, that’s not enough for her.
“I’m feeling good, but I think I can do better. Like today I got another chance to score and make my team proud, but I missed it. As a striker you really need to score more. One is not enough, two is not enough, three is not enough,” she said to media after the Spirit’s 1-1 tie against the Chicago Red Stars where she notched a goal in the 4th minute.
Scoring and dancing are both classic Ordega, and she wants to show fans this year her true potential. “I really hope that I’m going to be that Franny that everyone knows. This is the year to just show people who I am,” she said. “The real Franny is fun to play with, she’s strong, she’s fast, she’s a good dancer.”
While there have been spells where she’s seized a starting role (including down the stretch in 2016), Ordega’s previous three seasons with the Spirit have seen her take on more of a super sub role to threaten tiring defenders. This season both her fitness level and her consistency have improved, and with Estefania Banini on international duty for several weeks, her performance has been key for Washington.
“What she’s done this year is [be] more consistent for longer periods of the game, and not drifted out or had those times where it’s ‘where’s Franny been?’ and then she has that one magical moment,” Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra said. “When she first started here, she was really instinctual and she’d get the ball and no one knew what she was doing which is very dangerous to defend against but it’s also really difficult to play with. I think she’s found a way to be familiar with our style of play but also the players she’s playing with.”
Ordega is also known for working hard, and she brings that same game day intensity to every training session.
“She goes hard every day. She really does. She slaps us in the face every day which we always make fun of her for because she flails so much with arms. She’s just such a force. She’s strong, she’s fast, she can finish, she has great feet as well. I’m happy I only have her Monday through Friday and on the weekends she’s on my team,” Spirit captain Estelle Johnson said.
Ordega’s success is also partially a product of the players around her. Last year she and Pugh only started one game together, while Hatch is a new arrival. As a front three, that group’s understanding is growing from game to game.
“She has all that ability, all that quality as a striker,” Ordega said of Pugh. “I think [Hatch and I] have that too. We’re speedy, We’re fast, it’s working for us.”
In a true sign of Ordega’s optimism, she’s got some dance moves planned. “I want to score more so I can be able to dance for my fans and show them what that means.”