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Washington Spirit sign defender Camryn Biegalski

The 22-year-old Illinois native turned a National Team Replacement deal into a permanent one with the Spirit

Andy Mead / ISI Photos / Courtesy of Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit have expanded their roster ahead of the beginning of the 2021 NWSL regular season, signing defender Camryn Biegalski. The 22-year-old Illinois native was initially brought in as a National Team Replacement Player during the Challenge Cup, but impressed at training and in games, earning a permanent deal with the Spirit. According to the team, Biegalski’s contract runs through 2021 with an option year for 2022.

“Camryn came highly recommended by both Rory Dames and Scott Parkinson from Chicago, and she certainly didn’t disappoint,” said Spirit head coach Richie Burke in a team press release. “She’s proven to be a good addition to our squad and her versatility will be an important factor when we lose players during the Olympic window. During the few weeks she’s been at our club she’s been absolutely great to work with and I hope she continues to grow as a player with the Spirit.”

In the same release, Spirit Director of Sporting Operations Larry Best added that the club “...officially welcome Camryn to the Spirit Family and congratulate her on the transition from a National Team Replacement Player status to earning a senior roster spot. Her performance in training and the Challenge Cup allowed us to evaluate and monitor her closely and we decided that she deserves the opportunity to play in the NWSL.”

Burke had previously told reporters that the club was interested in changing Biegalski’s temporary deal into one that lasted for the season.

Biegalski appeared as a substitute in three of the Spirit’s four Challenge Cup games, and has largely spent her time in the NWSL — she was a 2020 draft pick for the Chicago Red Stars — at right back. Before that, she was a four-year starter for the Wisconsin Badgers, and was both the Big Ten Defender of the Year and a national Second Team All-American as a senior in 2019.

While nearly half the Spirit roster has some defensive experience, this summer’s Olympics will certainly test their depth. Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett appear to be strong bets to make the USWNT roster, while Saori Takarada started Japan’s last two matches as a center back. Julia Roddar is in the running for Sweden’s squad as well. Meanwhile, Dorian Bailey has become a starter in central midfield, while Burke appears to see Natalie Jacobs as a defensive midfielder first and foremost right now (particularly if Andi Sullivan also gets the call from Vlatko Andonovski).

At the moment, the Spirit have 24 players under contract, but with Averie Collins on the season-ending injury list, they have five open roster spots. There are likely more moves coming, with Burke recently telling reporters two weeks ago that the team would like to get first round pick Tara McKeown signed and in training as quickly as possible. McKeown and USC have been knocked out of the NCAA tournament, opening the door for Washington to take that step.

Moreover, the Spirit were recently reported to have made a big-money offer for Bordeaux striker Bunny Shaw, and while discussing signing Biegalski and hoping to bring McKeown in as soon as possible, Burke also said the club had one more international signing in mind. Even if both of those moves do come to fruition, there’s still enough roster space to bolster other spots, and in the past two years Washington has largely preferred to fill every roster spot.