On a rainy overcast day, the Washington Spirit of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) took to the pitch at Audi Field for one last time this season against the Houston Dash in front of 9,141 fans. The former champions took the field on Oct. 1 with energy and poise against a formidable opponent, but this game was all-encompassing of a disappointing season. The team could not find their footing and were down 1-0 within the first 13 minutes of the match.
Trinity Rodman matched up against Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell a few times early on, but as teammates on the national team, Rodman’s tricks did not fool the veteran keeper. Spirit tied it up by the half with a penalty kick made by Andi Sulivan, but they could not keep even for long. In the 56th minute, Spirit’s Julia Roddar scored an own goal which would make the match.
With only three wins this season, it is clear that finding a groove was not something the team could do. Their lackluster statistics kept them at the bottom of the table for much of the year. Going into the season as champions with a star-studded roster made it difficult for anyone to see this as the end of their 2022 season.
The injury report released before the match reminded fans that two of the best defenders in the league, Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnet, would not be on the field as they have not been for most of the season. However, injuries were not the only roadblock that prevented Spirit from making strides this season, the team fired head coach Chris Ward halfway through due to the uninspired performances.
As they head to the offseason, the front office should look to rehabilitate their talent and bring in new stars to revitalize the boring offense. With an extensive injured reserve, the team needs leaders who can guide a first-half offense and rally the team for a second-half comeback. They also need to find solid leadership at the head coach position to raise morale and overall team spirit.
Not all is grim and gloomy for the team. Support for women’s soccer has skyrocketed in recent years, and that trend is not lost in DC. Whatever direction the team chooses to go in this offseason, Spirit fans will be eager to return to Audi Field in the spring to see the current reigning champions try to bring that title back home.