Spirit trade Diana Matheson to Seattle Reign FC

Dan Lauletta January 23, 2017 72
Diana Matheson has been traded to Seattle Reign FC. (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

Diana Matheson has been traded to Seattle Reign FC. (photo copyright EriMac Photo for The Equalizer)

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.

  • Ron Rocha

    According to her Instagram post it appears that the move was at her request.

    • Timber Dave

      It must have been, because Washington got very little in return. That club’s management has a problem.

      • Som Termanni

        In the Post’s story, Gabarra makes it sound like Matheson didn’t want to be a team player: “Di is nearing the end of her career and didn’t want to be part of the sweeping changes we’re making.”

        • DNG

          Honestly at this point who can blame her? I’d be more surprised if there aren’t other players who want to leave but don’t have the leverage of those that did.

          • Som Termanni

            She was also looking to move closer to home. WNY was the original destination, less than 75 miles from her hometown of Toronto, but deal evaporated when the Flash moved.

          • Steglitz49

            Is Seattle really closer to Toronto than DC?

          • Som Termanni

            It’s closer to where they train, which is probably better for her than being far from both. Seattle obviously wasn’t her top choice.

          • Silver Frost

            DC, from first to worst in 2017.

          • Terry Lash

            Hiring Gabarra was a big mistake. With the personnel changes I expect attendance will be down this coming season.

          • john

            It will be interesting to see what happens. What segment do you expect to stop coming? I’d think the youth teams that pick their game and come as a group will continue. Will general woso fans drop out? The most likely to stop coming I guess are fans of specific players, who are no longer in DC.
            I know you don’t like Gabarra and I don’t necessarily disagree with your reasoning. However, two points: He did take them to the final. It may have been a Parsons roster, but Parsons couldn’t get them that far. Second, if I strip away all the emotional reasons I can’t fault the club for looking to move players like Krieger and Matheson. Close to losing their allocation status, older, slowing, etc. When I look at a player like Nairn it seemed we were always discussing the same weaknesses in her game. If a player has plateued or isn’t committed to improving I think the move makes sense.

          • GT

            He never took Sky Blue to the finals in the four years he coached there. And those were teams he put together himself by his own admission.

          • Steglitz49

            SB lost in the SF in 2013. Granted, not the final but at least in the play-offs.

          • GT

            Got progressively worse after that.

          • john

            Yes, but he remains one of only a few coaches to win a woso title in an American pro league. If not making the finals makes one a bad coach how many bad coaches are in NWSL. The odds are against everyone and imo those Sky Blue squads weren’t championship caliber.

          • GT

            Championship – long, long time ago with Wambach and Hamm. The Sky Blue teams were championship caliber. Just very poor coaching. No more excuses. Also players leave him in droves. Sad.

          • JL

            Gabarra doesn’t seem like the type of coach that encourages a healthy team environment.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear!

        • nstarsfan

          I don’t think it’s being a bad team player to want to play for a team that gives you minutes. She clearly has career goals left that riding the bench won’t allow her to meet. I wouldn’t want to play for someone who tells me he thinks I’m washed up and only good as a sub. I don’t understand why he thinks he has better than her after all these defections. I’m glad for her. She deserves a chance to play where she’s valued.

      • mockmook

        Or, perhaps, the players are over-reacting to the “disrespect” shown to St. Rapinoe

        • Alternative Facts = Lies

          Perhaps not.

        • DNG

          I mean take from this what you will and consider the source but it sounded like it was more than just the Rapinoe thing to Krieger.

  • Som Termanni
  • Jillbarra

    of course. all of last season’s players want a trade. where are Zardorsky and Labbe headed?

    • Som Termanni

      Labbe is allegedly fine, probably because Gabarra will have to work even harder in 2017 to bench her with Wys on ACL rehab.

      • guest

        Labbe doesn’t want to play for the Spirit anymore

        • Som Termanni

          > Matheson’s Canadian teammate, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe, will return to the Spirit this season, Gabarra said. Initially, Washington was going to let her go after Kelsey Wys won the starting job last summer. But when Wys tore an ACL this winter playing in Australia, the club turned back to Labbe. Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky is also slated to return.

          • Steglitz49

            Labbé. Not to be confused with Henrik L’Abée-Lund, who is a Norwegian biathlete (ski-shooter).

        • Steglitz49

          Labbé.

      • Steglitz49

        é, please. Labbé.

      • john

        Labbe will be exposed over the full season and folks will see why Wys was favored by both the staff and backline.

    • Steglitz49

      Labbé. An acute accent on her e, please.

      • FawcettFan14

        Oh…so Labbe, then?

        • Steglitz49

          Almost like in L’Abée-Lund but not quite.

  • Jillbarra

    The reign is going to suffer without Pinoe, Solo, Little and Fishlock. Good luck Dmath.

    • smoked salmon

      the Reign is the new Swedish league. Take past their prime old Canadians lmao. Surprised Tancredi isn’t playing for them.

      • Steglitz49

        Don’t knock the Swedes too much seeing what happened in OG-16.

      • Guest

        What other old Canadian have they taken besides Matheson? Doesn’t something have to be repetitive in order for it to be a theme?

        • g3

          perhaps Carm Moscato meets the past their prime criteria

          but 2 does not qualify as a trend to me either

          • xanthophobe

            Also Carm played on the Reign for one season and was injured for the whole season–played a total of 12 minutes, I believe.

    • ReignFan

      Reign still have Fishlock and Rapinoe. Solo is unclear; but Kopmeyer is a worthy replacement even if she doesn’t return.

      Only loss of the 4 is Little.

      • DNG

        Little is a big loss. I’m not convinced Harvey can replace her yet.

        • mockmook

          They only lost a Little…

          • Movement

            It’s so awesome that we have a Little, Long, and Short in this league.

            Kim Little
            Allie Long
            Casey Short

            Now all they need is Rachel Wood, and they can start the next Spice Girls, but call their new band “Size Girls”.

          • Movement

            Well, Little is no longer “performing” in this league.
            But yeah.

        • SpiritFan80

          Agree that Little is a big loss. She was less effective last season though. That’s not a knock on her, teams seem to have figured out how to deal with her.

          • DNG

            For me she was still effective but less productive and I think it had a lot to do with teams dealing with Seattle’s pressing to create chances much better than they had the previous 2 seasons. I think Little can be productive in a wide veriety of offenses though. She also had to play deeper when Fishlock was out. Despite her difficulties last year, I think she’s still a top 10 player in the world.

          • SpiritFan80

            Yes, she was still effective for the team. Just meant that she wasn’t able to tear through opposing defenses like we had seen in the previous seasons. Harvey alluded, in post game pressers, to other teams figuring out how to stop both the team and Little. I think if Little was in a top 10 NT, there would definitely be more conversation around her with more casual fans. I’m hoping we here in the US are able to watch more of Arsenal ladies games.

          • DNG

            I don’t place much stock in knowledge among casual fans. Casual fans only seem to really care about NT performance and Little plays for Scotland who has not qualified for a single World Cup. I don’t think hardly any casual fans pay attention to the NWSL which is the one of the few places(before this year) they would have seen Little play. I don’t think there is a single player on the USWNT who is a better soccer player than Little. Probably not Fishlock either although at her peak you could argue Solo.

          • Steglitz49

            Scotland has qualified for Euro-17. They would like to give Anna Signeul a good send-off.

            Scotland played-off for WC-15 but were beaten by the NL, who are the hosts of Euro-17.

            Please see my other entry about Euro-17.

          • Steglitz49

            In Euro-17, Scotland could reach the QF and has an outside chance of a SF.

            Scotland is in Group D together with England, Spain and Portugal. Thus, Scotland could finish either 2nd (most likely) but also either 1st or 3rd.

            The winner of D plays the 2nd in C and 2nd in D the winner of C. Group C is: France, Iceland, Austria and Switzerland.

            As far as I know, Lars Lagerbäck is not managing Iceland’s Ladies, while Red Bull are not sponsoring Austria’s Ladies.

    • wosofan

      Rapinoe and Fishlock are gone? When did this happen?

    • Guest

      Pinoe and Fishlock are still there…….

      Doesn’t look like they are going to suffer much with this line up:

      Rapinoe……Yanez……….Naho
      ……………..Matheson……………
      ………Nairn………….Fishlock….
      Utsugi…Barnes..Corsie….Stott
      …………….Kopmeyer…………….

      • FawcettFan14

        Midfield is undersized but besides that not a bad lineup. Not convinced they are playoff material though.

        • Guest

          They weren’t much bigger when the MF was Little, Fishlock, Winters….

          • mockmook

            But this “new” lineup is getting to be a bit decrepit

          • Guest

            Nairn is in her Prime, Fishlock has not slowed down at all, and depending on who the 3rd in the MF is (Utsugi/Matheson), maybe so. But Matheson still lead the WS in scoring early in the season, and Utsugi is not yet on the older side.

          • mockmook

            In addition to Matheson and Fishlock, you have Naho and Rapinoe

            We’ll see how spry they stay.

  • Som Termanni

    Waiting to find out what’s going on in this cryptic Kaylyn Kyle tweet: https://twitter.com/KaylynKyle/status/823545271502209027

    • mockmook

      That could just be her philosophy about life

      • Movement

        Well, she is big into fashion. It could mean that she’s changing her style of underwear, for all we know. Thinner material would be a wise choice, especially in the Orlando climate. Less is more.

  • MrTemecula

    I like this trade better for DC than Seattle. Ship was Pac-12 2015 Player of the Year. Plus, I am an ageist when it comes to trades: youth must be served.

    • atalba

      Agreed. She was the engine of Cal, and led in most offensive categories.

  • atalba

    There appears to be a general stance of homophobia and the political bent that accompanies that perspective of the owner. Some players who actually live and work (camps, etc) in the area appear to overlook the tense relationship. But anyone with a conscience or personal reason to take offense appears to desire to take their talents elsewhere. Some are just glad to be working, and are willing to work for anybody. Strictly my opinion, with no real facts.

    • mockmook

      “Strictly my opinion, with no real facts.”

      It’s always best to call people names like “homophobes” without using facts. I mean, why would you?

      Do you even listen to yourself?

      • atalba

        You’re such an idiot! Do you even read news?!? Or do you get your news here? Have fun in your little world.

        • Steglitz49

          He who pays the piper calls the tune.

          Anti-discrimination laws can only do so much.

          • atalba

            Thankfully, some can just leave. Unfortunately, some just don’t have the means or leverage.

          • Steglitz49

            Because of a lapse of concentration in the dying seconds of play, DC lost the Championship. It was in their hands and they snatched defeat from victory.

            Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the drop that made the beaker overflow? Maybe the owner wants to start with a clean slate?

    • Zaff

      A homophone runs a professional women’s soccer team? Did they get their start running a high school drama club?

    • Anson

      Strictly my opinion, with no real facts.You can say that again!!!!If your talking about the owner you are completely wacked! The night Rapinoe wanted to stage her “personal bout” in front of the Spirit Fans and then got upstaged by Veteran Bill Lynch…..where she then went on her “RANT” about everybody and anybody because poor Megan didn’t get her way……I was sitting in the owners box 6 seats from the left of the owner and who was invited to to sit next to me…..a LESBIAN COUPLE! Who BL is friends with and doesn’t have any problems with.
      Most of you “Posters” have know idea what you are talking about! Starting with you atalba! It’s pathetic that you constantly hid behind your own prejudices! How Hypocritical!!!!

      • atalba

        So you know its not true? You know why players are leaving? You know how the players are being treated, and they’re not leaving for any reason having to do with the owner’s predisposition? I used information from people who have left and stayed, and what they inferred. I made a presumption. But do you know?