Ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Chicago Red Stars, the Washington Spirit have made a series of announcements concerning player availability. Between national team call-ups, injury news, and new signings, it’s been a wild 48 hours. Let’s take all the changes in order:
Rebecca Quinn called up for Canada
Unsurprisingly, Quinn has been called up for Canada’s friendly against Germany on June 10th. All signs point to her leaving after tomorrow’s game, so consider her available to face Chicago, but she’ll be unavailable for next Friday’s game at Sky Blue FC. With Tori Huster questionable with a groin injury, Quinn’s availability may be crucial for the Spirit midfield.
Francisca Ordega called up for Nigeria
Ordega, the Spirit’s co-leading scorer, is jetting off for some big games with the Super Falcons as they try to qualify for France 2019. Africa’s qualifying process is currently in the second round, in which 14 teams are playing two-legged playoffs to join Ghana in the final stage (a group stage followed by a knockout round to winnow the last eight teams down to the three that will qualify). Nigeria plays Gambia in a two-legged aggregate series, with Gambia hosting on June 6th before Nigeria gets their turn June 11th.
Ordega has already departed the U.S. to join Nigeria’s camp for these crucial games, so she will be unavailable tomorrow as well as against Sky Blue on June 8th.
No Spirit players called up for USWNT duty
For a wide variety of reasons, the Spirit’s group of USWNT players have all been left out of Jill Ellis’ squad for a pair of friendlies against China on June 7th and June 12th. US Soccer has opted to ignore the FIFA window that opens June 4th, and is instead calling players in on a weekend where there is a full slate of NWSL matches.
So on one hand, Ellis has done the Spirit a big favor, as they’ll have a bunch of starters while Chicago and Sky Blue will have to do without some key players. On the other hand, what’s going on here? The answer changes for each player that might have been called in.
We’ll get to Mallory Pugh in a second, so let’s start instead with Ashley Hatch. She’s been more involved recently and is tied with Ordega for the team’s goal-scoring lead, but most likely lost her USWNT place due to the return of Christen Press (who was left out last time while looking for a club) and Ellis bringing veteran Amy Rodriguez in for a look. Andi Sullivan is in a similar spot, with a logjam at her position and a call-up for NWSL MVP candidate McCall Zerboni probably the issue.
Rose Lavelle is not yet fit enough to play more than a few minutes at a time, and for all parties it’s best if she just builds her fitness up with the Spirit. It remains to be seen whether Ellis intends to recall Taylor Smith at some point, but the right back has shown better form over the past couple of games.
Mallory Pugh out for a few weeks
This one seemed like it could be potentially terrible news, as Pugh — who couldn’t return to play for the final 10+ minutes of last week’s loss at Houston — was left off the USWNT roster without much clarity over what happened. However, an announcement from US Soccer says that both their doctors and the Spirit have evaluated her injury, but that at the moment all they can say is that she has a swollen knee.
That sounds like it could still be pretty bad news, but Steve Goff has reported that the injury is not believed to require surgery. Nonetheless, she won’t be taking the field in either of the Spirit’s upcoming games.
Spirit sign Schuyler DeBree as a National Team Replacement Player
DeBree, the #11 pick in this year’s college draft, stayed at Duke to finish up her studies and graduate, but has been training with Washington for a few weeks. It has long been expected that the Spirit would sign DeBree to a full contract, but for the time being they have given her an NTRP temporary contract to take Ordega’s place on the roster.
That’s not to say that she’s a direct replacement for Ordega. DeBree is a versatile defender, though she predominantly played center back for Duke during her college years. Washington has had precious little defensive depth all season, and it would not be a shock to see the team find a way to keep DeBree on the permanent roster after the next few weeks settle down.
Where does that leave us?
Despite all the comings and goings, the Spirit will actually have 21 players available for tomorrow’s game (or 20 if Huster is unable to play with her injury). Here’s the full roster of players available at the moment:
GK: Aubrey Bledsoe, Kelsey Wys, DiDi Haracic
DF: Taylor Smith, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Caprice Dydasco, Schuyler DeBree
MF: Rebecca Quinn, Andi Sullivan, Estefania Banini, Havana Solaun, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Joanna Lohman, Rose Lavelle, Tiffany Huster, Morgan Proffitt
FW: Ashley Hatch, Mallory Eubanks, Tiffany Weimer, Yanara Aedo