Just days before the 2021 NWSL preseason officially begins, the Washington Spirit have signed Swedish international Julia Roddar, a midfielder who was a part of the team that finished in 3rd place at the 2019 World Cup. Roddar, 28, is on a two-year deal with the Spirit, where she will once again line up alongside Emily Sonnett, her teammate on the Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC side that won the Swedish Damallsvenskan this past season.
In a team release, Spirit head coach Richie Burke said “Adding another full international to the ranks of our 2021 squad this year was always my intention, and getting someone of the quality of Julia Roddar made that acquisition even sweeter... Bringing Julia to the Spirit means we now have more players with World Cup experience on our team. She is also one of those incredibly versatile players who can fit in comfortably in several key roles for our club. Watching Julia play last season only reinforced that she was exactly the type of player we were looking for and we recognized very quickly that she is someone who ideally fits our preferred style of play.”
Roddar has experience playing soccer in the US, as she split a collegiate soccer career between time with Wisconsin and Florida-Gulf Coast. After the end of her time at FGCU, she moved back to Sweden, spending several years with Kvarnsvedens IK before moving to Kopparbergs/Göteborg (a powerhouse in Swedish women’s soccer) in 2018. There, she was a part of two straight runner-up finishes before the club won the recently concluded 2020 season. Roddar also played in the Champions League this past year.
With her national team, Roddar made her first senior appearance in 2017, only to narrowly miss out on a place on Sweden’s 2017 European Championship squad. However, in 2019 she fought her way onto their 23-player roster for the World Cup, though she ended up being one of three players on the team who did not play during Sweden’s seven games.
Roddar is known for her versatility, but has primarily spent her time as a wide player in various formations. In the Swedish league this season, the data strongly points to a well-rounded player who made significant contributions on both sides of the ball:
- She won 51% of her challenges (7 avg. per game)— NWSL Analitica (@NwslAnalitica) January 26, 2021
- Made 3.6 recoveries per game
- 55% of dribbles won
- 68 of tackles won
- Averaged 3.4 interceptions
All that, particularly as a left midfielder, with some games as a right midfielder.
What that means for the Spirit remains to be seen. At full strength, the Spirit will likely rely on Kelley O’Hara and Tegan McGrady as their starters, either as wingbacks in a three- or five-back or as fullbacks in a back four. However, with O’Hara’s national team commitments and McGrady having lost chunks of both of her pro seasons to injury, there will likely be plenty of opportunities for an experienced player to make regular appearances.
Today’s move leaves the Spirit with 18 players under contract. Washington is set to announce a new deal for forward Kumi Yokoyama later this week, which will boost that number up to 19. Roddar, Yokoyama, and Saori Takarada occupy three of Washington’s four international spots, leaving the club with room to make another big signing between now and the mid-April start of the Challenge Cup.