The Washington Spirit today announced their initial 2021 NWSL preseason roster, with 26 players in the squad as the lengthiest training camp in league history got underway today.
Out of the 19 players Washington currently has under contract, all have reported on time save for their most recent signing, Swedish international Julia Roddar. According to the Spirit’s release, Roddar will arrive in the U.S. later this month. Kumi Yokoyama and Saori Takarada, Washington’s other internationals, were in town for day one.
Four of the five Spirit draft picks from last month’s College Draft will report as well, with first round pick Tara McKeown opting to play the spring NCAA season with USC. Trinity Rodman, Anna Heilferty, Sydney Schneider, and Mariana Speckmaier have all reported, and will vie for a contract throughout the preseason.
USWNT players Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett, who were just called up for the SheBelieves Cup, have reported for the Spirit, but after this first week of preseason will join Vlatko Andonovski’s national team camp that begins a week from today. Andi Sullivan, who according to Andonovski picked up a knock at the end of the USWNT’s January camp, is the only known injury at the moment. O’Hara and Sonnett will join back up with the Spirit after the SheBelieves Cup ends on February 24.
The Spirit will have three non-roster invitees on trial starting next week. Chinyelu Asher, a Jamaican international and former Spirit Reserves player, headlines the list, while Richie Burke will also be evaluating forwards Furtuna Velaj and Anika Kallash. Velaj, 30, is a well-traveled dual American-Albanian citizen who has played 25 times for Albania’s national team and appears to have last played club soccer with the New York Surf of United Women’s Soccer. Kallash had a record-setting career at Central Methodist University, an NAIA program, where she set school records for goals scored (77) and assists (33) in a 72-game collegiate career.
Asher and Velaj were also listed on Racing Louisville’s preseason roster, though it is unclear whether their arrival next week means they will spend time with the expansion side before or after their trials with the Spirit. Black and Red United has reached out to the Spirit for further clarification, and will update this piece with more on their status.
Details on Washington’s preseason schedule and training site(s) remain unclear, with the only sure thing that the NWSL Challenge Cup will begin on April 9.
Here’s the full roster breakdown:
Goalkeepers (2): Aubrey Bledsoe, Devon Kerr
Defenders (6): Sam Staab, Natalie Jacobs, Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Tegan McGrady, Paige Nielsen
Midfielders (7): Julia Roddar**, Saori Takarada, Jordan DiBiasi, Andi Sullivan, Bayley Feist, Dorian Bailey, Tori Huster
Forwards (4): Averie Collins, Ashley Sanchez, Kumi Yokoyama, Ashley Hatch
Goalkeepers: Sydney Schneider
Midfielders: Anna Heilferty
Forwards: Trinity Rodman, Tara McKeown**, Mariana Speckmaier
Defenders: Chinyelu Asher**
Forwards: Furtuna Velaj, Anika Kallash**
**: Not yet reported