The Washington Spirit have made no bones about their confidence in the players they picked up at this year’s NWSL Draft, and they’ve backed that up with action today, signing all five of the selections they made in Baltimore last month. Ashley Sanchez, Natalie Jacobs, Averie Collins, Katie McClure, and Kaiya McCullough are all under contract with the Spirit, In addition, the Spirit also confirmed that they’ve signed undrafted goalkeeper Katie Lund to a contract as well, taking the club up to 25 players (out of a maximum of 26) under contract ahead of the beginning of preseason next month.
Rumors had circulated about whether Sanchez would pursue a deal in Europe, but in the end the 20-year-old attacker will join her fellow draftees just under a month from now at the Maryland SoccerPlex for the beginning of preseason. With the draft-day trade that sent Mallory Pugh to Sky Blue FC opening up room in Washington’s attack for someone with Sanchez’s skill set, there is reason to believe that the UCLA Bruin and USA under-23 could emerge as a starter for day one.
Lund, a 6’1” native of Plano, TX, spent three years at Texas Christian before transferring to Arkansas for her final collegiate season. With the Razorbacks last year, she started every game of the season and was part of a defense that posted 11 shutouts. For her efforts, Lund was named to the All-SEC Second Team, as well as the All-South Region Second Team. Lund will be aiming to establish herself as Aubrey Bledsoe’s primary back-up, though reports from the Washington Post’s Steve Goff indicate that head coach Richie Burke plans to add another goalkeeper currently playing in France:
Spirit looking to France for another goalkeeper. Deal getting close.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) January 30, 2020
As mentioned before, the Spirit roster currently stands at 25 players, with one open spot remaining. That group does not include fullback/winger Mallory Eubanks, who declined a contract offer after missing the 2019 season while pregnant with her first child. Eubanks was likely going to compete for time on either side of the back four, but the Spirit will likely look towards Jacobs, second-year midfielder/defender Dorian Bailey, and newcomer Jenna Hellstrom to compete for time with projected starters Tori Huster and Tegan McGrady.
While it is clear that the Spirit have one open roster spot, it’s not clear how their roster breaks down when it comes to regular roster players versus supplemental roster players. Washington declined to clarify that distinction for the time being, saying that they would announce those details at a later date.
The current roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers (2): Aubrey Bledsoe, Katie Lund
Defenders (5): Paige Nielsen, Sam Staab, Tegan McGrady, Brooke Hendrix, Kaiya McCullough
Defender/Midfielders (4): Tori Huster, Jenna Hellstrom, Natalie Jacobs, Dorian Bailey
Midfielders (6): Jordan DiBiasi, Andi Sullivan, Rose Lavelle, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Bailey Feist, Jaye Boissiere
Midfielder/Forwards (4): Kumi Yokoyama, Ashley Sanchez, Jessie Scarpa, Averie Collins
Forwards (4): Ashley Hatch, Cheyna Matthews, Crystal Thomas, Katie McClure