Bledsoe won her second straight goalkeeping award, following her nod in 2019. The NWSL canceled its regular season last year amid the coronavirus pandemic and instead played a summer tournament, as well as a series of regionally based games in the fall.
Another Spirit player, attacker Ashley Hatch, had earlier been honored by the NWSL with its Golden Boot award for leading the league in scoring. Hatch scored 10 goals in 20 games, and she added the only tally — off a deflected shot from Rodman — in extra time to help give Washington a 1-0 quarterfinal win over the North Carolina Courage on Nov. 7. The title match with the Red Stars will take place at noon Saturday at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville.
The Spirit’s postseason run and individual success have come during a stretch of notable off-field turbulence. Washington’s controlling owner, Steve Baldwin, announced last month he would sell the club in a move called for by the Spirit’s players following the revelation of allegations of abusive behavior by former coaches in Washington and elsewhere in the league. Included in the fallout was the resignation of former NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird.
In its 2021 season awards, the league also honored: OL Reign midfielder Jessica Fishlock as MVP; NJ/NY Gotham FC defender Caprice Dydasco as defender of the year; and the OL Reign’s Laura Harvey as coach of the year.