The Washington Spirit is an American professional soccer club based in Washington metropolitan area that participates in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). It is a continuation of the D.C. United Women of the W-League and continues to field both an amateur WPSL team and a youth team, both under the Spirit name. The Spirit is coached by Richie Burke.
|Full name||Washington Spirit|
|Owner||Steve Baldwin (majority)|
Bill Lynch (minority)
|Head Coach||Richie Burke|
|League||National Women's Soccer League|
The foundation of the National Women's Soccer League was announced on November 21, 2012, with Washington selected as a host for one of the eight teams selected for the inaugural season. In December 2012, the team's name was announced as the Washington Spirit. D.C. United Women head coach Mike Jorden was kept on as well as assistant coach Cindi Harkes. Harkes is the wife of former U.S. international and D.C. United star John Harkes. Bill Lynch, the original Washington Spirit's owner when the National Women’s Soccer League launched in 2013, sold the majority of the team to tech executive Steve Baldwin in late 2018.
On January 11, 2013 as part of the NWSL Player Allocation, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (USA), defender Ali Krieger (USA), midfielder Lori Lindsey (USA), defender Robyn Gayle (CAN), midfielder Diana Matheson (CAN), defender Alina Garciamendez (MEX) and midfielder Teresa Worbis (MEX) were named to the team. During the February 7, 2013 NWSL Supplemental Draft, the team selected Stephanie Ochs, Tori Huster, Jordan Angeli, Natasha Kai, Megan Mischler and Heather Cooke.
The inaugural season saw the Spirit stumble out of the gate under Mike Jorden, who was fired after the first eleven games having won only once in that time. Jorden was replaced by Mark Parsons, who finished the season in 8th (last) place registering only 2 more wins over the season.
After a poor inaugural season, the Spirit would much improve in the 2014 making some key acquisitions including Jodie Taylor and Christine Nairn, both who would finish as the team's tops scorers with 11 and 8 goals, respectively. Finishing 4th, the Spirit made their first NWSL Playoff appearance. They would lose at Seattle Reign.
The Spirit finished the 2015 season with a record of 8–6–6 and repeating their 4th place league position. The playoff result, again, ended in an away loss to Seattle in the semifinals. The season would be the breakout year for Crystal Dunn who was awarded the 2015 NWSL Golden Boot Award, scoring 15 goals during the campaign. At the conclusion of the season, Mark Parsons stepped down as head coach and general manager to take over as coach of the Portland Thorns.
Building off the successes of the 2014 and 2015 seasons, the Spirit hired former Sky Blue FC manager, Jim Gabarra ahead of the 2016 season. The Spirit had their most successful season to date in 2016, being league leaders in the standings throughout most of the season. Only in the final week would the Spirit's loss finalize them as league runners-up. Earning their first post-season victory against Chicago Red Stars, the Spirit would lose the 2016 NWSL Final in penalties to Western New York Flash
In the aftermath of finishing 2016 runners-up, the Spirit saw a series of key departures including captain Ali Krieger (traded to Orlando Pride), Christine Nairn and Diana Matheson (both traded to Seattle Reign), and Crystal Dunn leaving for Chelsea, while retaining her contracting rights. Unable to adequately replace these players, the Spirit struggled to compete throughout the 2017 season ultimately finishing last (10th) for the first time since the inaugural season. However, building for the future, Gabarra was able to recruit U.S. national team prospect, Mallory Pugh mid-season. Pugh would go on to lead the team in scoring, registering 6 goals in 16 games. The 2018 season continued the Spirit's pursuit of young talent, but also continued the struggle for results. On August 21, after eight straight losses and being eliminated from playoff contention, the Spirit fired head coach, Jim Gabarra, and appointed assistant coach, Tom Torres as interim head coach. Torres lead the Spirit through the final three matches of the season at home, including the Spirit's debut at newly opened Audi Field against Portland Thorns on August 25. The match set a new club record for home attendance with 7,976 fans. The season ended with the Spirit finishing in 8th place, just ahead of Sky Blue FC. During the offseason, the Spirit appointed Richie Burke as the new head coach while retaining Tom Torres on the technical staff. The announcement also noted local tech executive, Steve Baldwin had become the Spirit's new majority owner.
The 2019 Washington Spirit season marked several changes internally for Spirit organization. Owner Steve Baldwin outlined several improvements including an upgraded player experience, theme nights for fans, a gear store in the stadium, and a mascot. The 2019 season also featured major changes on the field. 15 new players were added to the Spirit roster including Australian national team members Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison. The Spirit surpassed their point total from the previous season on 5/18/2019 after the 5th game of the season against Portland Thorns FC. They would go on to surpass their past season's point total the next week against the Chicago Red Stars. They are currently 4th in the NWSL standings.
Colors and badge
In January 2013, the team unveiled its new colors and badge. The badge was designed to resemble a torch reflecting the notion of "Burning with Spirit." It also contains a crown that holds 11 stars to represent the 11 players on the field and a ball with a single star to represent the 12th player (the team's fans) placed where the fuel for the torch would be representing how the fans "fuel the spirit." All of the components of the badge are "wrapped in the Banner of Spirit for a patriotic theme honoring our flag and all of those who have given their lives and sacrificed much so we can enjoy the freedoms we have."
The logo was designed by freelance designer Pete Schwadel and incorporates the team colors of navy, red, and white, further reinforcing the patriotic theme woven throughout the team's imagery. It also features both "Washington" and "DC" to represent the team's connection with the District and the greater Washington metropolitan area.
The Maryland SoccerPlex, located in Germantown, Maryland, has been home to the Washington Spirit since the inaugural 2013 season. The Spirit play their home games at the main stadium, named Maureen Hendricks Field in June 2013 in honor of Hendricks’ role in the development of women’s professional soccer and the SoccerPlex facility. The facility is also home to the Washington Spirit Reserves in the WPSL.
Starting during the 2018 season, the Spirit began coordinating with DC United to play home matches at Audi Field in Buzzard Point in Washington D.C. The Spirit played their first match on August 25 that season, hosting the Portland Thorns. The match registered the team's highest attended game and was viewed as a means to generate more interest in the team. During the 2019 season, the team announced it would host two home matches at Audi Field.
On November 12, 2019 the team announced starting with the 2020 season, Washington Spirit reach and agreement with DC United that will split the team's home games between three stadiums, the Maryland Soccer Plex, Audi Field and Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia for four games each. The 2021 season will see 7 games at Audi Field and the remaining games at Segra Field. In addition, the team will relocate it's training facilities to the new DC United training center in Leesburg, once the facility is completed.
|2013–present||Maryland SoccerPlex||Germantown, Maryland||4,000||Regular season home|
|2018–present||Audi Field||Washington, D.C.||20,000||Occasional regular season home|
|2020–present||Segra Field||Leesburg, Virginia||5,000||Regular season|
The Spirit Squadron is the name of the supporter's group for the Spirit. The group was started by three friends – Ashley Nichols, Megan Wesson and Tory Johnson. Of the group's founding, Nichols said, "... with a new league we needed to show the team as much support as possible because we really want a women's pro league to stay here in the United States. So between that and wanting to also provide a fun experience for fans, we decided to create the Spirit Squadron."
As of April 2017, Washington Spirit games are streamed exclusively by Go90 for American audiences and via the NWSL website for international viewers. For the 2017 season, the Spirit will be featured in three nationally-televised Lifetime NWSL Game of the Week broadcasts on April 22, June 17, and August 19, 2017.
Players and staff
|Majority Owner||Steve Baldwin|
|Minority Owner||Bill Lynch|
|Chief Executive Officer||Larry Best|
|High Performance Coach|
|Team Performance Coach|
|Reserve Team Head Coach|
- As of July 9, 2019
|Mike Jorden||April 6, 2012 – July 1, 2013||11||1||3||7||9.1%||First head coach|
|Mark Parsons||July 1, 2013 – September 30, 2015||57||20||13||24||35.1%|
|Jim Gabarra||October 14, 2015 – August 21, 2018||65||19||11||31||29.2%|
|Tom Torres||August 21, 2018 – December 27, 2018||3||0||1||2||0.0%||Interim head coach|
|Richie Burke||December 27, 2018 – present||11||5||3||3||45.5%|
|Year||League||Regular Season||P||W||D||L||Pts||Playoffs||Top Scorer||Avg. Attendance|
|2013||NWSL||8th Place||22||3||5||14||14||Did not qualify||3,620|
|2017||NWSL||10th Place||24||5||4||15||19||Did not qualify||3,491|
|2018||NWSL||8th Place||24||2||5||17||11||Did not qualify||3,892|
|2019||NWSL||5th Place||24||9||7||8||34||Did not qualify||6,138|
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- "Washington Spirit finally score, but have to settle for 1–1 draw with Sky Blue FC". Washington Spirit. August 25, 2018. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
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- . Washington Sprit. 12 Nov 2019 https://washingtonspirit.com/2019/11/12/washington-spirit-to-play-2020-games-at-audi-field-segra-field-and-the-maryland-soccerplex/. Retrieved 14 Nov 2019. Missing or empty
- "Audi Field". dcunited.com. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
- "About the Squadron". Retrieved 27 May 2014.
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- "Coaching Staff".
- "Front Office".
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- "D.C. United Women Name Mike Jorden First Head Coach". washingtonspirit.com. April 6, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
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