Ahead of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, the Washington Spirit today announced their roster for the tournament. The Spirit, who open the Challenge Cup in five days with a road game against the North Carolina Courage, have 22 players on their roster, well under the new NWSL rules that allow a 28-player squad.
There are not many surprises on the roster. Striker Averie Collins, who suffered a torn ACL before official start of preseason, has been placed on the Season-Ending Injury list, opening her roster spot up. Washington only had one trialist, midfielder Morgan Andrews, who the Spirit have told Black and Red United is no longer with the team.
International call-ups and injuries may end up leaving the Spirit quite thin to start the Challenge Cup. Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, and Andi Sullivan are all away with the USWNT for their matches against Sweden and France, while Saori Takarada is away with Japan for games against Paraguay and Panama. Rookie forward Mariana Speckmaier has received her first senior call-up for Venezuela, who will play a Basque Country select team on April 8 before playing either Argentina or Nigeria on either April 11 (if they win their first game) or April 10 (if they lose).
Takarada and Speckmaier could possibly be back for the Spirit’s second game of the Challenge Cup (at home on April 15 against Racing Louisville), but in all likelihood all five internationals will not be available until an April 21 trip to face the Orlando Pride in Florida.
On top of that, midfielder Jordan DiBiasi only arrived in training camp recently after offseason hip surgery, and is restricted to training on the side at the moment. Ashley Sanchez and Bayley Feist also left the Spirit’s last preseason game with injuries, though in both cases it remains unclear what their status is for Saturday’s match against the Courage.
Due to the international call-ups involved, the Spirit do still have the option of signing National Team Replacement Players before the Challenge Cup begins.
The complete Spirit Challenge Cup roster is as follows:
Goalkeepers (3): Aubrey Bledsoe, Devon Kerr, Sydney Schneider
Defenders (7): Tori Huster, Paige Nielsen, Emily Sonnett, Sam Staab, Kelley O’Hara, Natalie Jacobs, Tegan McGrady
Midfielders (7): Andi Sullivan, Dorian Bailey, Bayley Feist, Saori Takarada, Julia Roddar, Jordan DiBiasi, Anna Heilferty
Forwards (5): Ashley Sanchez, Ashley Hatch, Trinity Rodman, Kumi Yokoyama, Mariana Speckmaier