Washington Spirit is the new women’s professional soccer team based out of the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md. in the new women’s professional soccer league. The team is owned by the same group which owned D.C. United Women of the USL W-League, but has been rebranded for the new professional league.
“We wanted a name that speaks directly to the patriotism of D.C…..we wanted a name with spirit,” team general manager Chris Hummer said.
He wasn’t joking. The name Spirit is familiar to the women’s soccer world. The San Diego Spirit played in the Women’s United Soccer Association from 2001-2003.
Mike Jorden has been retained as Washington’s head coach, as has Cindi Harkes — wife of former U.S. international and D.C. United star John Harkes — as assistant.
Hummer added that the team already has “multiple six-figure sponsorships” in place, but none are jersey-front deals.
The Washington Freedom brand spanned the course of 10 years and three leagues before being abandoned in 2011 when the team was moved to Boca Raton, Fla. and renamed magicJack. The Freedom name no longer resides in the capital district, however. Former magicJack (of WPS) team owner Dan Borislow is believed to own the rights to it and he said, simply, “they never called me.”
On Tuesday, Hummer said that “Spirit” was a chance to start with a clean slate, but the Freedom name being in Borislow’s hands likely played a role. The team did, after all, reactivate the @DCFreedom twitter handle in mid-November, but then implemented a ‘name the team’ contest that could not include the name Freedom.
“Certainly a name that a lot of fans wanted us to take up,” Hummer said of the Freedom legacy. “In the fan contest we did, a lot of people picked ‘Spirit.’ We just really wanted to have a new name and a fresh start and not deal with the past. That said, the Freedom is a fantastic legacy for the DC area and a name we never want to forget.”
The previous D.C. United Women name was “a marketing partnership,” but DCU’s ties to specific sponsors were too restricting, Hummer said. “As a new league we have to be able to do as much as possible with sponsors.”
As part of MLS, D.C. United is an Adidas team, and rumors have the new women’s league pegged as a Nike-outfitted league.
The team will still field a reserve team in the USL W-League, named the Washington Spirit Reserves.