* = confirmed signed for 2015
(parentheses) = Potentially absent for Women’s World Cup
In A Nutshell:
When the Spirit have all of their personnel, they look like a pretty formidable side. They’ve got the ability to bomb forward from the defense, a great keeper, and some solid pieces in the middle of the park. But they aren’t going to have their top personnel for much of the season. The defense is shaky, to say the least, without the club’s national team players, especially on the flanks. If Kerstin Garefrekes doesn’t return, the club is dangerously short on guile in midfield besides Christine Nairn and Amanda Da Costa unless the club makes a risky move to throw Ali Krieger or Crystal Dunn into midfield. And the frontline could collapse like a house of cards if Natasha Harding doesn’t adapt quickly. The Spirit really need more than a single draft pick, but they’ll have to make do.
Biggest Needs: LB, CF, WG, CB, backup GK
GK – (Harris), (Williams), *Wys
As is the case with FC Kansas City and Boston, Washington will probably be sweating out the months leading up to the WWC and the possibility of losing starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for an extended period of time. Likely battling with two others for two USWNT roster spots, Harris’ absence would be a serious blow to the Spirit’s playoff hopes. Unlike the other clubs mentioned above though, the Spirit have taken proactive steps to fortify the position in hopes of having a solid backup plan in the event of Harris’ absence.
Chantel Jones probably took a step backwards last season, and the Spirit made an intriguing switch in trading for WNY’s Kelsey Wys. Wys began as backup last season but ended up starting a giant chunk of the season after injuries struck down AD Franch and Lydia Williams. While Wys may struggle to be a full-time #1 at the moment, she’s a tested option in goal and probably wouldn’t be out of her depth if Harris is absent.
Oddly, the club claimed Wys’ WNY teammate from last season, Lydia Williams on waivers. It doesn’t make much sense on paper given Williams’ likely absence herself with Australia this Summer, and it’d be a surprise to see her in Spirit colors this season.