BALTIMORE — Last year, the Washington Spirit cleaned the floor with four draft picks in the 2019 National Women’s Soccer League Draft.
The same will not happen this year.
The Spirit attempted trades with the North Carolina Courage for the No. 6 pick and the Chicago Red Stars for the No. 5 pick to no avail. While hope is mostly lost on the Courage trade, there is still a chance for the trade with Chicago. The Spirit have two late-round picks with the 23 and 32 overall selections (update: the Spirit completed a blockbuster trade during the draft, sending forward Mallory Pugh to Sky Blue FC for the fourth overall pick, two second round picks and a 2021 pick).
Washington is interested in about two dozen top college prospects, but the asking price from other teams comes in the form of players Spirit coach Richie Burke is not willing to release.
“We’ve tried everything,” Burke told Pro Soccer USA. “We are not willing to to give away everything. They want players we are not willing to give and significant players for us that I think are on the cusp of a really great year. I am really just not willing to give up those players.”
The Spirit’s 2019 haul included regular starters Jordan DiBiasi and Samantha Staab. In 20 starts last season, DiBiasi scored four goals. Staab solidified herself as a regular on the back line, starting 24 games and delivering several of her dangerous long-range throw-ins to help the Spirit’s attack.
“We just feel in this draft that we did really well last year and we are in a good place with the five acquisition that we have got,” Burke said. “There is a really big number of players that we would like to get into our football club, but it is it what it is.”
Outside of the draft, the Spirit have acquired five players so far this offseason. They added midfielder Jaye Boissiere, defender Brooke Hendrix, forward Kumi Yokoyama, Jessie Scarpa and Jenna Hellstrom. Captain Andi Sullivan and starting goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe also signed new contracts with the club.