The Washington Spirit announced their initial 2020 preseason roster today, the first official day of the NWSL preseason. While the club’s preparations for the season have been underway for the last couple of weeks, with players arriving and seeing the local sites, the real work begins today.
The preseason roster includes 31 total players, of whom 25 are already under contract. While several players have not yet reported due to international duty or the ongoing W-League season, the list includes six trialists: defenders Taylor Aylmer (Rutgers) and Alex Jackson (Navy), midfielders Morgan Goff (UNC), Lauren Harkes (Creighton/Clemson), and Meghan McCool (Virginia), and forward Dani Rhodes (Wisconsin).
Of that group, three have some kind of local connection. Jackson, whose trial was previously announced by Navy, not only played her college soccer in the area, but was coached by former Spirit head coach Jim Gabarra’s wife (and World Cup winner during her time with the USWNT) Carin Gabarra. Per our SB Nation colleague Kim McCauley, Jackson is eligible for a deferment of her service requirement if she signs a contract:
I was surprised to see Alex Jackson from Navy, who I assumed would need to fulfill a service requirement. The Spirit tell me that under new service academy rules, Jackson can defer her service if she's signed to a pro contract. Trump enacted the policy in June 2019.— Kim McCauley (@lgbtqfc) March 9, 2020
Virginia native Harkes, meanwhile, has both a father (John Harkes) and brother (Ian Harkes) who have played for D.C. United. Former USA under-20 McCool captained Virginia last season.
Washington will start preseason missing four regulars. Rose Lavelle and Andi Sullivan will join the team in Florida following the conclusion of the USWNT’s SheBelieves Cup, which concludes on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Aubrey Bledsoe and Sam Staab both have W-League semifinals coming up this weekend, with Bledsoe’s Sydney FC playing Melbourne Victory and Staab’s Western Sydney Wanderers taking on Melbourne City.
If either or both advance, the W-League Grand Final will be played on March 21 or 22, depending on the pairing. Washington’s other W-League participant, Crystal Thomas, has reported after finishing her Perth Glory season on February 29.
The Spirit’s preseason schedule includes only two more days in the region before the team departs for Florida on Thursday. They’ll train in Port St. Lucie through March 25 before returning to train at the Maryland SoccerPlex ahead of their three preseason games.
The full preseason roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers (3): Aubrey Bledsoe*, Devon Kerr, Katie Lund
Defenders (10): Jenna Hellstrom, Tori Huster, Taylor Aylmer, Kaiya McCullough, Paige Nielsen, Alex Jackson, Brooke Hendrix, Sam Staab*, Natalie Jacobs, Tegan McGrady
Midfielders (10): Jordan DiBiasi, Lauren Harkes, Jessie Scarpa, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Jaye Boissierre, Andi Sullivan*, Morgan Goff, Dorian Bailey, Rose Lavelle*, Meghan McCool
Forwards (8): Ashley Sanchez, Crystal Thomas, Katie McClure, Ashley Hatch, Averie Collins, Dani Rhodes, Bayley Feist, Kumi Yokoyama
Note: Players marked with an asterisk are under contract but have not reported. Players listed in italics are not under contract.