The champagne bottles are empty, the confetti has been swept up, and the US women’s soccer team’s victory tour has come to a close.
With Women’s World Cup hero Rose Lavelle slated to suit up for Wednesday’s road game against Sky Blue FC, the Washington Spirit will finally have its full roster return from the international tournament. Washingtonians will have the chance to see the Spirit play with its full collection of national team players at the August 10 home match against the Chicago Red Stars.
Including Lavelle and USWNT teammate Mallory Pugh, the Spirit boasts six players who appeared in the tournament: Jamaica’s Cheyna Matthews, and Australia’s Amy Harrison, Chloe Logarzo, and Elise Kellond-Knight. The Spirit honored its Women’s World Cup players at the July 20 match against the Houston Dash, with five of the six players suiting up in the 2-1 loss.
Lavelle did not dress for the match, but did appear for the post-game ceremony where she met her mini-me “Little Rose Lavelle,” a young fan who shares the soccer star’s name. With heartwarming moments like this and a 5,500 seat sellout at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, the Spirit has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the rest of their season in DC. “The crowd at every NWSL game has been awesome and hopefully its not just a first weekend thing, hopefully it continues the rest of the season,” Pugh says. “There’s a lot of really great players in this league so hopefully we keep getting support.”
The Americans aren’t the only ones who got a warm welcome back to the Spirit. Logarzo, who played for Australia, says she and her teammates regularly get recognized by fans. “A few of us live in a complex, and just walking down the road…we’ve been stopped a couple of times by younger girls asking for photos,” Logarzo says. “I’ve always loved being a role model for young people, so it’s nice to be an international player coming from another country and people already know who you are.”
For the players returning from the tournament, having fellow national team players with them on the Spirit has helped the transition back into league play. Pugh and Lavelle live together in Rockville with Spirit captain Andi Sullivan. “When [Rose] scored her first goal I started crying just because I was so happy for her,” Pugh says. “Just seeing her all the work and the way she’s truly grown into the players she is now is really inspiring for me and it makes me want to be better.”
Lavelle is equally as effusive in praising her roomie.
“I think [Mallory] keeps getting better and makes everyone around her better. Living with her and Sunny has been like the best thing ever,” Lavelle says. “When you get to do what you love with people you love, it makes it that much more fun.”
With a tight playoff race in the second half of the NWSL season, Wednesday’s match is a must-win for the Spirit. The Spirit are just shy of a playoff position at fifth place with 18 points, while Sky Blue sits at the bottom of the NWSL standings.
Tickets for the August 10 match against the Chicago Red Stars are available at https://washingtonspirit.com/