After picking up 10 points in 4 games, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the Washington Spirit have plenty of players in the May NWSL Team of the Month. No fewer than four Spirit players — Aubrey Bledsoe, Jordan DiBiasi, Ashley Hatch, and Sam Staab — were recognized in voting by the NWSL Media Association.
Given that the Spirit won more games than anyone in NWSL this month (3), scored more goals than anyone in NWSL this month (8), and conceded just three times, a diverse group makes some sense. Aubrey Bledsoe, who leads the league in saves with 26, was spectacular in a 0-0 draw with Reign FC at the start of the month, and has played a major role in organizing a defense that only has a few weeks of play as a unit.
Rookie defender Sam Staab has been immense all season, forming an instant bond with Paige Nielsen in central defense. The underlying data seems to indicate that May was not a fluke:
Samantha Staab's numbers through six games are ridiculous:— Chris Henderson (@chris_awk) May 28, 2019
(All per 90 minutes)
0.8 chances created
86% pass completion (55 passes)
70.3% defensive challenges won
72.2% attacking challenges won
54.2% aerial duels won
78.6% tackles won
While she wasn’t credited with an assist this month, Staab’s vision and ability to weigh a 50+ yard pass has opened the field up for the Spirit, and proved crucial in Cheyna Matthews’ first goal in a 3-2 win at Sky Blue FC on May 11.
Staab’s biggest competition for Rookie of the Year at this point is probably Jordan DiBiasi, who has looked like one of the best attacking players in the entire NWSL thus far this season. DiBiasi’s corner kick delivery was critical in scoring three different goals this month, including an Olimpico against Portland Thorns FC that won Goal of the Week:
Throw in her great strike in the aforementioned Sky Blue win, and DiBiasi made a direct impact on half of Washington’s goals in May.
Hatch has scored in two straight games, opening the scoring against the Thorns before bagging the crucial second goal in Chicago last weekend. Head coach Richie Burke paid tribute to Hatch’s relentless work without the ball after the victory over Portland, nothing that “[Hatch] always puts in an unbelievable shift when you take a look at her data at the end of the match. She runs more than our midfielders sometimes!”
These are the first such nods for Spirit players in 2019. However, it’s not the first time they’ve had four players make the team of the month at the same time. In April 2018, Bledsoe was joined by Estelle Johnson, Francisca Ordega, and Mallory Pugh on the same list. Dating back to the start of the NWSL MA’s Team of the Month poll, the Spirit have now been represented on the list 13 times.