2020 Washington Spirit superlatives
Updated: Aug 3
The Washington Spirit exited the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah last week following a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks to Sky Blue FC during the quarter final stage. The Spirit had an incredibly successful run during this tournament, earning themselves the number two seed, showing composure, but also showing great creativity and finesse on the ball. Given the inexperience that the majority of the squad had, it was inspiring to see them challenge some of the more veteran and dominant teams. The Spirit has always been a skilled team, but the combinations of these players made for a completely different squad then in years past.
During the Challenge Cup, there were seven players in particular that I believe to have been integral to the Spirit’s success, these players have earned the following DC Sports Report superlatives:
Most dependable: Tori Huster
Huster is the most experienced player on the squad and is one of the most consistent players in the league. Having played for the Spirit since the NWSL’s inception, Huster has led her team in every aspect. Thus, the “OG23” has earned the title of ‘Most Dependable’.
Photo: Daniel Bartel/ISI Photos
Breakout star: Bayley Feist
A second year NWSL player out of Wake Forest, Feist was excellent during this tournament. With a successful 2019, Feist only continued to prove herself as a large part of Spirit's future, especially with her game-winning goal against Houston.
Photo: Bryan Bryerly/ ISI Photos
Best new face: Kumi Yokoyama
Yokoyama of Japan was signed in the off-season by the Spirit. With experience for the Japanese National team, Yokoyama infused plenty of energy and creativity into this revitalized squad. Despite being a new face in a nontraditional season, Yokoyama was able to successfully prove herself on this team. She was an integral addition to the Spirit, and I hope to see her back with the team in the future.
Photo: Getty Images
Most creative: Rose Lavelle
Lavelle has proven herself both internationally and domestically. She was stellar during this tournament especially with a critical goal in the 2-1 victory over Chicago. Upon stepping onto the field, the entire dynamic of the game was changed due to the infusion of energy brought on by Lavelle’s presence. Due to her imagination and genius on the ball, Lavelle has earned the title of ‘Most Creative’.
Photo: Lucas Muller / Courtesy of RSL Soapbox
Best all-around: Andi Sullivan
Despite suffering an injury against the Dash, Sullivan was the best all around. Her leadership capabilities at the young age of 24 are astounding. With the ability to facilitate play all over the field while creating opportunities for herself and others, Sullivan is unlike any other player. Following her injury and subsequent surgery, the hashtag #doitforandi was trending among players and fans alike.
Will always have your back: Paige Nielsen
Nielsen is as strong as they come and as team-oriented as one can be. Nielsen will throw her body in any which way to protect the goal. Known for countless goal-line clearances and crunching tackles, you can count on her to put in the extra work and have your back, every game. Nielsen was strong during this tournament, putting in solid shifts every game.
Photo: Live Momentous
Safehands™: Aubrey Bledsoe
Bledsoe is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Her strength and ability in goal are unmatched, making her one of the most threatening members of the Spirit. Bledsoe saves the impossible shots, commands her back-line, and helps to lead the squad. Bledsoe had a strong tournament and I can't wait to see her back in action when the Spirit return to play.
Photo: The Increase