ROCKVILLE – The 2020 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season will be the Washington Spirit’s last season in the Maryland SoccerPlex as the club announced a new stadium arrangement with Major League Soccer side D.C. United.
The club announced on Nov. 12 that they would play four of their 12 home games next year at the Boyds venue that has been their home stadium its entire eight-year existence. The remaining eight games will be split between Audi Field, the area’s new soccer-specific stadium in Washington, D.C., and Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia.
Following the 2020 season, all the games will be moved to the Audi Field and Segra Field, with the latter location becoming the new home base for the team. Segra opened on Aug. 9, is currently the home of Loudoun United, D.C.’s third division team, and seats 5,000 fans.
“I want to reiterate my gratitude to the Maryland SoccerPlex and D.C. United for being amazing partners,” Spirit owner Steve Baldwin said. “Both organizations have wonderful people that have given me valuable advice during this first year of my stewardship of the club.”
The move comes after the Spirit hosted two games in Audi Field during the 2018 season and averaged 18,644 spectators in the 20,000-seat venue.
Rumors began to swirl before the end of the season that the club was considering to play more games at Audi Field. After one of the games in Washington, D.C., Regin FC and United States National Team midfielder Megan Rapinoe said that the club outgrew the SoccerPlex and needed to move forward with the move.
“I hope they get to play here all the time. I think they deserve that,” said Rapinoe. “The Plex was good when it was good, and we are ready to move on now.”
However, many season ticket holders wanted the club to stay in the SoccerPlex. They voiced their displeasure by chanting “Stay in the Plex” during a postgame event after the regular-season home finale on Sept. 28.
The Spirit will offer Montgomery County fans round trip transportation from Germantown to Audi Field and Segra Field as part of the 2020 season arrangement. The club will also start a program to cover the cost for tolls for those traveling to Virginia who are not from Loudoun County.
While the majority of the team rest after a long season, one striker continues to be in the spotlight.
Spirit striker Rose Lavelle was nominated for the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Award on Nov. 26. She becomes the second Washington player to be nominated for the award since Crystal Dunn’s selection in 2016.
During her appearances on the U.S. National Team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Lavelle scored three goals, including the game-sealing goal to clinch the title for the Stars and Stripes. She was named the tournament’s third-best player and awarded the Bronze Ball. Lavelle was also named to the FIFPro Women’s Best XI as one of the best 11 players of the year.
Lavelle returned after the World Cup and brought a spark for the Spirit’s late postseason push. She finally scored her first goal for the club in their 2-1 victory over eventual league champions North Carolina FC on Sept. 28.
Lavelle was also on the shortlist for the 2019 France Football’s Ballon d’Or Feminine award for the world’s best player of the year. Rapinoe, Lavelle’s U.S. National Team teammate, was announced the winner on Dec. 2.
U.S. Soccer will announce the winner of their player of the year award during the second week of December.
As the club prepares for their offseason plans, two players were recently chosen to be a part of the first Identification Camp for the U.S. National Team. Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi and striker Ashley Hatch were selected to be a part of a 24-player roster helmed by new Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski that will take place on Dec. 9-14 in Bradenton, Fla.
Both players are coming off strong seasons for the Spirit. Hatch led the team with seven goals and will be making her first national team appearance since 2018. This would be DiBiasi’s first call up to the senior national team, but she has experience playing in their youth squads. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NWSL Draft started 20 games for the Spirit and scored four goals.