JJ Duke takes a look at what the Washington Spirit might (and should) do in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. The Spirit blew up its roster in the offseason but still have a deep team and will need to find some help in the midfield and in goal.
19, 29, 36
Havana Solaun (acquired from Seattle Reign FC)
Kassey Kallman (acquired from Boston Breakers)
Kristie Mewis (acquired from Boston Breakers)
Ali Krieger (traded to Orlando Pride)
Christine Nairn (traded to Seattle Reign FC)
Laura Del Rio (waived)
Crystal Dunn (signed with Chelsea Ladies)
Possible Draft Day Activity Level
The Spirit have gone through juuust a bit of a roster overhaul at the moment, more on that in just a bit, so I anticipate them making a bit of noise on Draft Day. With only three picks to work with, and two of them being very late, a trade up could be imminent.
What the Spirit Needs
It was a tumultuous back half to 2016 for Washington. Off-field actions overshadowed the fact they were a legit challenger and played some pretty nice soccer to boot. But a 120+4-minute equalizer from Western New York’s Lynn Williams in the championship match denied them the title and from that moment on, things have gone sour in our Nation’s capital.
Gone are fan favorites Ali Krieger and Christine Nairn, along with Crystal Dunn, who just left the club after the new year to join Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League. But here’s the thing: the Spirit, minus those three players, are still a very good team. Head Coach Jim Gabarra only scratched the surface of what he wants to do with this team and I have little doubt they will do a complete 180 in terms of their place in the standings in 2017.
What they will need for this season, however, is a dynamic wing player along with someone who can create out of the middle. They got part of the second by bringing in Havana Solaun in the Nairn trade but they could still do more. With their first pick at No. 19, they will get a solid player, but not a game-changer. Thus, I see the Spirit making a move up the pecking order with a trade.
If Washington stays with where they are at 19th, I like them landing a player like Meggie Dougherty-Howard from Florida or perhaps a Katie Johnson from Southern California. Both have the ability to become a solid goal scorer at the next level as well as fitting into the possession game the Spirit team played last year. Plus, Johnson showed great composure under pressure during the College Cup and bringing in a player with a fresh winning mentality is never a bad thing.
In terms of a later-round selection, James Madison’s Ashley Herndon has played with the Spirit Reserves for a few seasons now and buried 11 goals in her senior season so there is a solid go-to selection if available.