After finishing at the bottom of the table in 2013, the Spirit set to work ahead of 2014 and put together a roster that included recently returned Yael Averbuch, English international Jodie Taylor and drafted the versatile Crystal Dunn. The result was a fourth place finish that put the Spirit into the postseason.
English striker Jodie Taylor made 21 appearances and exploded for 11 goals and four assists on the year. Taylor did miss time with English national team duty near the end of the season and it isn’t clear if she has been re-signed. If Taylor is not returning, look for the Spirit to pick up a goal scorer by way of the draft or free agency.
Crystal Dunn had a quiet rookie season, playing mostly on the back line. The acquisition of defender Katherine Reynolds could free up Dunn to play in a more attacking role in her sophomore season.
The Spirit hold just one pick in the draft—a fourth round pick—and will likely look to add depth defensively.
Key Stats: 36 goals scored, 43 goals allowed
Key losses: Robyn Gayle (D, Did not return), Chantel Jones (GK, traded to WNY), Yael Averbuch (M, free agent), Jordan Angeli (M/D, traded to WNY), Lori Lindesey (M, retired)
Additions: Angela Salem (M), Katherine Reynolds (D), Natasha Harding (F), Amanda DaCosta (M), Joanna Lohman (M), Kelsey Wys (GK), Lydia Williams (GK)
Though Spirit will play a significant part of the season without their allocated players—Ashlyn Harris, Crystal Dunn and Ali Krieger (USA); and Veronica Perez (Mexico)—the real question comes in the status of midfielder Diana Matheson.
Matheson suffered an torn ACL while with Canada on October 29 and was ruled as out “indefinitely” by the Canadians. It is unclear if she will return in time to make the World Cup roster for Team Canada or what her status will be in for the 2015 season. Matheson led Washington in scoring in 2013 and was second in scoring last season, finding the back of the net eight times in each season.
Welsh forward Natasha Harding comes to the Spirit following an eight-year career in the FAWSL where she spent time at Cardiff City (5 years) and Bristol Academy (3 years). Midfielder Amanda DaCosta returns to the United States after spending the past two years with Liverpool Ladies FC where she helped Liverpool to back-to-back FAWSL titles.
Both players will look to help an offense that scored the third-fewest goals in 2014.
With Harris likely missing time while at the World Cup, the acquisition of Kelsey Wys will be something to keep a close eye on. Wys made 10 appearances for the Flash last year and finished the year with a 2.00 goals against average.