On Monday afternoon, the Washington Spirit traded its all-time leading goal scorer, Canadian international Diana Matheson, to the Seattle Reign. In return, the Spirit received the rights to 2017 draftee Arielle Ship and a third round draft pick in 2018.
With the trades of Ali Krieger and now Matheson, midfielder Tori Huster becomes the last remaining player from the original Washington Spirit squad.
A forward from the University of California, Ship finished her collegiate career with 29 goals and 14 assists. With the injury and departures of key goalscorers from the 2016 season, Ship could play a key role in the Spirit attack from the start. Ship joins forward Lindsay Agnew and midfielders Meggie Dougherty Howard and Cameron Castleberry as the 2017 Draft class for the Spirit.
While the pieces the Spirit acquired for Matheson are a bit surprising, the trade itself is not. Matheson, who will turn 33 years old in April, has not seemed 100 percent healthy since tearing her ACL in late 2014 and breaking her foot in early 2015. In a season that saw her go to the Rio Olympics, she played in 15 games. Matheson started in nine games, but only went the full 90’ in four games. Most of those games were prior to the Olympics. As her soccer career begins to wind down, it is not surprising that the Spirit looked to deal the Canadian international for a younger player.
Matheson released a statement after the trade was announced, thanking the fans:
After four years with the Spirit I will be moving on to Seattle. As my time in DC comes to an end it is without a doubt bittersweet. The club gave me so much over the time I was there and I’ll miss so many things: The fans are among the most dedicated in the league (shout out to the Spirit Squadron), the people at the SoccerPlex and the fields they take care of are top class, and all the people that own/coach/work/volunteer/host players for the Spirit give their heart and soul to that club day in and day out. I’m proud of the people that I got to play and work with, and our push to improve on and off the field every season. It of course hurts that we didn’t reach the pinnacle last season, but I’m excited to see the club continue to push for that championship. Most of all I’ll miss my teammates and friends that play and live in the DMV. All that said, after four years and some hard thought, I’ll be leaving the Spirit. Jim and staff have been great and there has been nothing but honest conversations during the off-season. They have been pushing to do what’s right for the club, but ultimately respected my decision. I truly appreciate all the work Jim put in to work together with me on this.This business can be a tough one, and I leave with nothing but respect and gratitude for the club. Now I’m looking ahead with excitement to 2017 with the Seattle Reign. I am grateful as well to the Reign and to Laura for bringing me out west, and I can’t wait to begin my time there. I look forward to joining the great players, coaches, fans and people that make up the Reign. See you all soon!
The Spirit also announced on Monday that the first game in franchise history in the Commonwealth of Virginia will take place on Saturday, March 25 as part of the preseason schedule. The opponent, location and remaining preseason matchups will be announced shortly.