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The Washington Spirit are ready to move forward

• After a traumatic year-plus, Spirit players feel the club can now set the bar in NWSL
• Owner Michele Kang is investing on and off the field after league-record $35M purchase
• Signs of a club in transition remain, including temporary branding and facilities

Photo via Washington Spirit

LEESBURG, Va. — Once you reach the one-lane, gravel road, keep going, and hope another car doesn’t jump out from around the bend.

Go a little farther, and you’ll see the new temporary training facility for the Washington Spirit, which the National Women’s Soccer League team shares with MLS’ D.C. United. Inside, there is a large weight room and tables of catered food, plus freshly installed temporary walls to divide the warehouse into small offices.

The unusual space reflects a new era for the Spirit. After recent changes to just about everything — from a new coach and majority owner to a new color scheme dubbed “a rebrand in progress” — the club is in the midst of reimagining its identity.

“We’ve only scratched the surface in terms of what that culture really looks like,” midfielder Andi Sullivan tells The Equalizer.

This preseason feels different for the Washington Spirit. Michele Kang took over full ownership of the club in early 2022, a change that began this new era after a traumatic 2021 that saw the Spirit’s former coach banned from the league for abusive behavior and former owner forced to sell after players pressured him publicly. The club dealt with the fallout — including another controversial coaching change — in 2022. Now, players say, they are ready to move forward.

Kang is the change agent, and she is bringing a level of investment rarely seen in women’s soccer. Her $35 million purchase price of the Spirit in early 2022 set a new bar in the league as team valuations soar.

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