It’s inevitable. At the beginning of each sports season, a couple of teams are anointed as ‘the teams to beat’ and couple of others as the most likely to receive the first pick of next year’s draft. The Washington Spirit have been placed in the latter category after dropping their last two preseason matches to college teams, 2-0 to Maryland and 6-3 to Virginia.
Luckily for the Spirit, the slate will be wiped clean this weekend and they will have an opportunity to remind everyone that the preseason is just that. Washington undoubtedly played the most arduous preseason schedule, both in terms of quantity and quality. As questions remain about all facets of the Spirit’s game, aside for goalkeeping, the Spirit surely hope that the results of the last two matches are attributable to fatigue and lack of bodies rather than lack of talent.
Lack of bodies will still be an issue for the Spirit’s defense, however. After waiving defender Skyy Anderson in favor of forward Jasmyne Spencer on Tuesday, the Spirit have six defenders listed on their opening day roster. As two of their defenders, Robyn Gayle and Ali Krieger, will miss time with their respective national teams, the Spirit will have holes to fill throughout the season.
Star Power: The key to Washington’s success this season is a stringent defense. The team’s very defensively oriented allocation should be up to the challenge. With Ashlyn Harris in net and Krieger, Gayle and hopefully Candace Chapman on the backline, the Spirit should prove difficult to score against. Simply, the fewer goals they allow, the fewer goals their young forwards will need to score to win games. But Washington will not be able to chase games if teams manage to score on them.
Potential Breakout Players: When the allocations were announced, the question that quickly emerged for the Spirit surrounded their goal-scoring? The Spirit used both the college draft and the supplemental draft to address this question. Of all the talent Washington acquired, Tiffany McCarty has been the most impressive thus far. Despite missing one of the Spirit’s exhibition matches, McCarty tallied three goals, counting for half of the team’s preseason offensive production. McCarty’s contributions haven’t been limited to goal scoring. She’s also attracted the attention of opposing defenses’ thereby creating offensive opportunities for her teammates.
Another Spirit forward that could have a breakout year is Stephanie Ochs. Ochs was recently named MVP for the recent La Manga Tournament with the U.S. U-23 team. Although Ochs did not score in preseason, Ochs put a lot pressure on opposing team’s defenses. She also provided great service to her teammates.
Look for Ochs and McCarty to be the Spirit’s starting forwards this season.
Coaching factor: Mike Jorden is an unknown commodity at this level. Jorden coached the D.C. United Women in 2011 and 2012. Last year, D.C. United Women finished third in the W-League. Although he had a very talented roster, Jorden was forced to change his lineup weekly in order to accommodate his amateur players’ personal obligations as well injuries. He handled the personnel changes well and D.C. only lost one game in during their run to the semifinal.
Off the Field: The Spirit launched a campaign shortly after the new league was unveiled to establish a rapport with fans. The team gave away signed merchandise via Twitter and also at preseason matches. All of Washington’s preseason games were also free to the public. It will be interesting to see how the outreach efforts hold up if the Spirit stumble in their first year. Washington has sold approximately 630 season tickets. The Spirit have a lot of work to do if they are going to average the targeted 3,000 spectators per match. That’s the number Spirit owner Bill Lynch said the club needs to be sustainable. He wrote an open letter to fans earlier this week.
# Player POS HEIGHT BIRTHDATE HOMETOWN COLLEGE
5 Candace Chapman DEF 5’7″ 4/2/83 Ajax, Ontario Notre Dame
15 Robyn Gayle DEF 5’7″ 10/31/85 Mississauga, Ontario North Carolina
1 Ashlyn Harris GK 5’9″ 10/19/85 Satellite Beach, FL North Carolina
4 Domenica Hodak DEF 5’4″ 8/20/91 West Sayville, NY Maryland
23 Tori Huster MID 5’5″ 9/23/89 Cincinnati, OH Florida State
18 Chantel Jones GK 5’11″ 7/20/88 Midlothian, VA Virginia
11 Ali Krieger DEF 5’6″ 7/28/84 Woodbridge, VA Penn State
6 Lori Lindsey MID 5’5″ 3/19/80 Indianapolis, IN Virginia
8 Diana Matheson MID 5’1″ 4/6/84 Oakville, Ontario Princeton
14 Tiffany McCarty FWD 5’4″ 12/14/90 Laurel, MD Florida State
10 Caroline Miller FWD 5’5″ 7/16/91 Rockville, MD Virginia
22 Stephanie Ochs MID 5’9″ 8/21/90 San Diego, CA San Diego
13 Julia Roberts MID 5’9″ 2/7/91 Germantown, MD Virginia
24 Jasmyne Spencer FWD 5’1″ 8/27/90 Bay Shore, NY Maryland
3 Kika Toulouse DEF 5’6″ 5/3/89 Arlington, VA Virginia
9 Ingrid Wells MID 5’2″ 3/29/89 Upper Montclair, NJ Georgetown
2 Colleen Williams FWD 5’5″ 8/29/90 Titusville, NJ Dayton
7 Lupita (Teresa) Worbis MID 5’3″ 12/12/83 Mexico
Head Coach: Mike Jorden
Assistant Coach: Kris Ward
Assistant Coach: German Peri
Goalkeeper Coach: Lloyd Yaxley
Head Athletic Trainer: Emily Fortunato
Equipment Manager: Marisa Hill
Team Administrator: Ashlee Comber
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