Thursday, May 28: Braddock Road U-20s 1, Washington Spirit Academy 0.
Saturday, May 30: Washington Spirit Reserves 2, Atlanta Silverbacks Women 2.
Sunday, May 31: Atlanta Silverbacks Women 7, Braddock Road Stars Elite 0.
Olivia Fiegel’s game-winning shot goes in against the Washington Spirit Academy.
Braddock Road U-20s starting off on the right foot
My first amateur game of the season was actually a W-League U-20 (“W-20”) match between the Braddock Road Stars Elite and the Washington Spirit Academy on Field 14 at the Maryland Soccerplex. This was the second match of the season for Braddock Road, who had already downed the Northern Virginia Majestics, 2-0, and the first for Washington. Looking at the rosters, it seemed a bit of a mismatch. Braddock Road’s players were almost entirely the teenagers from their W-League team, while the Spirit’s roster had no W-Leaguers at all. That the result was 1-0 in favor of Braddock Road – on a first half goal by Olivia Fiegel – was no great surprise.
Why follow the W-League? “This is where it all starts,” says Kristen Meier, former professional player for the Seattle Reign and currently captain of the Braddock Road Stars Elite. “You’re watching the World Cup, come out here and see the stepping stones to getting there. We have players who hopefully in four, eight, twelve years will be on that team.”
Given the talent on the local teams, it seems like a good bet. Washington has eight players with youth national team experience, most notably Andi Sullivan, who captained the US team in last year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup. And Braddock Road already has five – including three of Sullivan’s 2014 teammates – with even more up-and-coming young players on the bubble.
So if you come out to see the Stars Elite play the Spirit Reserves (and you have three matches to choose from), you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing the next Ali Krieger, Lori Lindsey, or Becky Sauerbrunn – all of whom honed their skills on local W-League teams long before getting called up to the national team.