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Washington Spirit sign Japanese national team forward Kumi Yokoyama

The Washington Spirit bolstered its attack with three signings this week.

WASHINGTON — In its first move of the NWSL offseason, the Washington Spirit signed three players this week, bolstering its attack.

Forward Kumi Yokoyama, who plays for the Japanese national team, is a big name added to the roster, as well as forward Jessie Scarpa and winger Jenna Hellstrom.

Yokoyama, 26, spent most of her career in the top division in Japan at AC Nagano Parceiro with a short stint abroad at FFC Frankfurt, a German women’s association football team. Additionally, the speedy and creative attacker has scored 17 times in 43 appearances for the Japanese national team. She featured twice for Japan in the 2019 World Cup. 

Emerging into the international game in style, Yokoyama scored a Puskás-nominated goal during the 2010 U-17 World Cup where she took home the Silver Ball and Bronze Boot.  

“We are thrilled to bring in another international player of quality to improve our squad for 2020,” Spirit coach Richie Burke said in a team release. “Kumi will be a fabulous addition and give us another high caliber option in the attacking zone next season.” 

The forward will occupy an international spot on the Spirit’s roster. Although the team did not confirm whether it used the NWSL allocation money, Yokoyama qualifies for the new rule with her international and World Cup contributions in the last two years. 

While Yokoyama headlines the additions, Scarpa, 23, and Hellstrom, 24, also bring international experience.

During her time at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Scarpa was named to the All-ACC first team and joined current Spirit star Mallory Pugh on the 2016 U-20 World Cup United States roster. Scarpa trained with Washington last summer, but could not sign with the team because she did not register for the 2019 NWSL draft following graduation. She most recently played at Swedish club Lidkoping FK.

Hellstrom is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, and has represented both countries on the international stage. The 24-year-old played youth levels for the U.S. but represented Canada this summer as a member of the 2019 World Cup squad. 

The latest acquisitions bring the forward total to seven with more attacking options in the midfield. Across 24 games in the 2019 season, the Spirit scored 30 goals — the fourth highest in the league last season. The Spirit will continue to add to its roster at the NWSL Draft on Jan. 16 in Baltimore before opening the 2020 season.

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