The Washington Spirit continued their offseason shakeup on Monday, trading Diana Matheson to the Seattle Reign FC. In return the Spirit acquire the draft rights to No. 26 overall pick Arielle Ship as well as the Reign’s 3rd round pick in 2018. News of Matheson’s likely departure from Washington was first reported over the weekend by The Washington Post’s Steven Goff.
“Diana has proven over the four seasons in the NWSL that she is a top talent. She will bring experience, leadership and proven ability to our squad,” said Laura Harvey, Seattle Reign FC head coach and general manager. “We are really excited to bring Diana on board with our club and thankful she will scoring goals for us and not against us!”
Matheson, the Spirit’s all-time leading goal scorer, connected for 3 of her 23 NWSL goals against the Reign.
“I am excited about the move out west and the opportunity to join a club like Seattle,” Matheson said. “They are a club I’ve always enjoyed competing against in the past, and I’m looking forward to the chance to play with the great players and coaches there.”
The 32-year old Canadian will be joined in Seattle by Christine Nairn who was traded there from Washington earlier this offseason. Matheson and Nairn will have big shoes to fill in Seattle where Keelin Winters retired after 2016 and Kim Little returned to Europe.
In her four seasons, Matheson appeared in 63 games for the club plus all four of its playoff contests. Aside from her 23 goals, Matheson’s 11 assists are tied for the most in franchise history. Dunn also left the Spirit this offseason to play in England. Ali Krieger and Megan Oyster have also been traded and three players–Cali Farquharson, Caprice Dydasco, and Kelsey Wys–are at different stages of recovery from ACL surgery.
Estafania Banini also left the team though Goff’s report suggested she could return in June. Goff also reported the Spirit have smoothed things over with Stephanie Labbe and she is expected to return.
Spirit coach Jim Gabarra continued to sound the bells for the future at the Maryland SoccerPlex where the fan base has been on edge since the final regular season home match when ownership decided to fast track the national anthem in protest of a potential protest by Megan Rapinoe.
“Ari is a player we believe can come in and challenge immediately for a starting spot just about anywhere in our attacking end. She’s a very creative player who provides that double threat of either providing a goal or scoring one herself. Ari is someone we feel has a long future as a professional, so this is another player who has the ability to contribute to the Spirit for many years to come.”
Matheson has been allocated by Canada every NWSL season and was one of only three players from the 2013 team still around last year when the club came within a win of the Shield and a few seconds of the NWSL Championship. With Krieger also gone the last remaining Spirit original is Tori Huster. It was that trio who had their penalties saved by Sabrina D’Angelo at the end of last year’s final. Matheson, who missed a key penalty in regular time in a 2014 playoff loss in Seattle, saw her final touch in a Spirit go as the decisive save that set off a championship celebration for the Western New York. She is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist for Canada. Her goal against France in extra time gave Canada the bronze in 2012.