A sale would comply with the request the players made of Baldwin in an open letter Oct. 5.
“We’re honestly still waiting on an update,” said Spirit midfielder Tori Huster, president of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association. “It sounds like it’s going to require a little bit more time than we would like. But we want the process of a sale or whatever happens to proceed correctly, so we’re hoping that with the [NWSL] executive committee and the other board of governors that are overseeing the league right now, that they are really intentional about whatever ownership comes into the Washington Spirit.”
On the field, the Spirit has reeled off three wins and a draw in the past 11 days, vaulting into third place in the league with one regular season match left.
Asked how the team has navigated that stretch, with the added stress of leaguewide turmoil, interim coach Kris Ward said: “It’s a lot of planning, and then it’s also just listening. I know I talk about that a lot, but I kind of feel like that was missing. And I think that was across the league — just listen to these people. They’re smart. They know what they’ve been through.”
Washington has all but secured a postseason berth. The Spirit can clinch its spot Sunday with a North Carolina loss to NJ/NY Gotham FC or a Houston loss to first-place Portland. Washington finishes the regular season Oct. 31 against the Dash.
Washington’s perfect road trip this week came down to unlikely heroes coming through in unexpected moments. In the 70th minute Wednesday at North Carolina, first-year midfielder Julia Roddar’s first NWSL goal happened to put the Spirit ahead for good in a crucial 2-1 victory.
And on Saturday, Washington rookie Taylor Aylmer broke through for Washington in the 22nd minute of her first career start. The assist came from Roddar, who sent a high, bouncing cross into the box and over the defense. Aylmer corralled the bounce and put a shot on target over the head of Reign goalie Sarah Bouhaddi, who was off her line.
For insurance in the second half, the Spirit turned to its trusty star, as Ashley Hatch drilled a perfect shot from outside the box to beat Bouhaddi and push Washington’s lead to 2-0. Hatch leads the NWSL with 10 goals this season, moving out of a tie with the Reign’s Bethany Balcer and Houston’s Rachel Daly.
Considering the opponent was a top-two team in the league, the Spirit didn’t have too much trouble putting away the win. Despite seven corners, the Reign managed only three shots on goal, and Washington’s Aubrey Bledsoe saved all of them. In the 78th minute, Sofia Huerta beat Washington’s Tegan McGrady to the end line and then slid a pass into the box, where Bledsoe dove to stop it. The rebound rolled to Eugénie Le Sommer, who took one touch but then sent it into the side netting.
The Spirit came close to adding a third goal. Trinity Rodman had Bouhaddi beaten in the 62nd minute, but Reign midfielder Jessica Fishlock tore through the box, slid and knocked away Rodman’s shot just in time. Ashley Sanchez had a second chance from point-blank range but couldn’t get a shot off.