The NWSL transfer window officially flung open today and the Washington Spirit wasted no time in signing, well, players they already had. Given that six Spirit players (Kingsbury, Rodman, Sanchez, Hatch, Tanner, Sheva) will be away with their national teams, signing players who’ve been training with the team since preseason is a good start.
Today’s signings designates Speckmaier and Thompson as National Team Replacement Players and bumps them up to the active roster.
Mariana Speckmaier is a forward/winger whose had a fairly unlucky start to her professional career. She was the 39th overall pick, selected by the Washington Spirit, in the 2021 NWSL Draft. She spent her rookie year with the club before heading off to CSKA Moscow in search of more playing time and a fresh start – days later Russia invaded Ukraine and the deal was nullified.
In 2022 she signed with Iceland club Valur, but saw few appearances there. However, Speckmaier remains a talented prospect. At Clemson she scored 25 goals in 65 appearances and has played for the Venezuela National Team since 2021.
“Our staff here has done a great job helping me to take the next steps in my game and I’m excited to keep contributing to the success this team has had so far this season.” -Mariana Speckmaier; source: Washington Spirit
Stability and an environment which cultivates and supports player growth is important for young players and unfortunately this is the first time in Speckmaier’s pro career that she’s had both. While she’s listed as a forward in the Spirit’s press release, there’s always the possibility of head coach Mark Parsons deploying her in a new position, particularly with the surprise of Ashley Hatch not going to the World Cup.
Jordan Thompson was drafted 50th overall by the Spirit in the 2022 NWSL Draft. The 5’2 defender spent her college career at Gonzaga, making 81 starts before becoming the first ‘Zag to be drafted into the NWSL.
While Thompson played mostly center back in college, her height could hint at Parsons seeing her in another position. However, despite her stature she still won a whopping 71% of her aerial duels according to The Woso Independent.
“I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity to sign my first professional contract with the Spirit. The Spirit has such a unique environment and I can’t wait to continue learning and developing with this team.” -Jordan Thompson; source: Washington Spirit
Still, with the starting backline still intact after World Cup callups, Thompson’s surprising aerial prowess could also be beneficial in defensive midfield. Of course this is all speculation and we’ll have to wait to see what Parsons has in mind for both if/when they step on the pitch.
We’re happy and excited for Speckmaier and Thompson to get these opportunities, and hope they shine enough to earn longer term deals. One of the players en route to the World Cup, Marissa Sheva, took a similar route and is now heading to the biggest stage in soccer. Still, with six players away, it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to expect additional signings. Stay tuned!