The Washington Spirit have once again had a busy last couple of days. Heading into tomorrow’s game against Sky Blue FC (which is an odd one, as the rest of the NWSL is off this weekend), there are a few things to catch up on to stay in the know. Let’s get right to it:
The Spirit have had a handful of players on the injury report all season, but most of them have been long-term issues that existed before the season began. That changed this week, as the Spirit’s list of absences is by far the longest it’s been in 2018:
#NJvWAS injury report— Jason Anderson (@chestrockwell14) June 7, 2018
Normally I type this out but I will go way over the character limit this week. 16 players out or away on international duty, 22 players in total on the list! Here's a screencap: pic.twitter.com/s8hPyg2mMW
Nine players are unavailable due to injuries or national team duty (we’ll cover that in a moment), while three more are questionable.
Tori Huster’s groin injury kept her out of the 18 last weekend, and it’s unclear whether she’ll play in New Jersey tomorrow or not. Havana Solaun’s knee injury is a new one, and the timing is unfortunate for a talented player who has suffered due to Washington’s logjam when it comes to attacking midfielder/winger types. Kelsey Wys just played her first 90 since tearing her ACL in late 2016, but worryingly has some knee swelling to get over. It’s a plus that she’s just questionable rather than out, but it’s still a situation to monitor.
The biggest concern is Ashley Hatch’s hip flexor, as the Spirit attack is severely short-handed at the moment. With Mallory Pugh injured and Francisca Ordega elsewhere at the moment, Washington’s starting front three could all miss what is a critical game in terms of crawling back up the standings.
If every questionable player can travel, Jim Gabarra will have 18 total players to call on. That includes all three goalkeepers, plus two National Team Replacement Players:
GK: Aubrey Bledsoe, Kelsey Wys, DiDi Haracic
DF: Taylor Smith, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Caprice Dydasco, Schuyler DeBree
MF: Tori Huster, Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Estefania Banini, Joanna Lohman, Morgan Proffitt, Maddie Huster
FW: Ashley Hatch, Mallory Eubanks, Tiffany Weimer
Maddie Huster signed as National Team Replacement Player
With FIFA’s international window under way, the Spirit are short-handed, so it was no surprise that they turned to one of their many draft picks to help out. Huster, who is Tori Huster’s younger sister, has been training with Washington during the season, and will boost the team’s numbers in midfield. The younger Huster helped the Spirit Reserves win the 2015 W-League and was a four-year starter at Wake Forest.
The Spirit are missing four players during this international window. Last week we mentioned call-ups for Francisca Ordega (Nigeria) and Rebecca Quinn (Canada), but since then Yanara Aedo (Chile) and Rose Lavelle (United States) have all been called in as well.
Ordega and the Super Falcons had the most important games in this window, as they’re playing Gambia in a two-legged playoff to advance in World Cup qualifying. Ordega started as Nigeria won the first leg 1-0 on the road, giving them a very strong chance of meeting expectations and moving on to the next round.
Quinn’s Canadian side have a high-profile friendly on Sunday, when they face Germany in Hamilton, Ontario. Aedo, meanwhile, will play in a pair of friendlies against Costa Rica on Saturday and Monday.
Finally, Lavelle was a late addition to the USWNT roster heading into a pair of friendlies against China (tonight and Tuesday). It’s not entirely clear what Jill Ellis is up to with the call, as Lavelle is still a long way away from being fully fit after missing 9 months due to injury. Most likely, she’s been called in for evaluation purposes, but one never can tell with the USWNT.
NWSL to broadcast six games on ESPNews
The NWSL announced that six games originally scheduled for the Lifetime Game of the Week window will be aired on ESPNews instead. All six games will take place after 7pm local time, a move fans and players will welcome given that the Lifetime window required afternoon kickoffs throughout the summer.
Two Spirit games are on the list: June 23rd’s home game against the Orlando Pride will kickoff at 7:08pm, while August 25th — Washington’s debut at Audi Field, with the Portland Thorns visiting — will kick off at 7:30pm.