The Washington Spirit have announced that Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky has been traded to the Orlando Pride in exchange for goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and a 2019 1st round draft pick.
Bledsoe, a 5’8” Cincinnati, Ohio native, played in 10 games for the Pride in 2017 for a total of 990 minutes. After Ashlyn Harris was injured in May, Bledsoe was tasked with the starting gig.
While the Spirit get some much-needed assistance in goal, they send away their 2017 captain in Shelina Zadorsky in the process. Zadorsky played in 21 games for Washington racking up 1793 minutes of play. Often times paired up with Whitney Church, the pair struggled to hold back opposing attacks. In Orlando, Zadorsky will reunite with former Washington teammate, Ali Krieger.
What That Means
As a result, the trade leaves many questions for Spirit fans. The most obvious is what this means for goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé. It is hard to tell if Labbé will return to Washington or not after taking a leave of absence in September. If she does return, Bledsoe would most likely become the number one backup, beating out DiDi Haracic and Kelsey Wys. If Labbé does not return, the fight for the number one spot would likely come down to Wys and Bledsoe.
The next question is who starts at centerback on matchday one. Does Estelle Johnson return to the middle of the park? Does Jim Gabarra start two rookies in Rebecca Quinn and Schuyler DeBree? Quinn and DeBree did start together in their senior seasons at Duke, but their inexperience in the NWSL may hurt the Spirit, a team who cannot afford to struggle defensively for a second straight season.
Finally, Washington now has to find a new captain. The likely candidates for the captaincy are Estelle Johnson and Tori Huster. Similar to last season, the decision on the captaincy will most likely occur late in preseason.
Preseason camp opens for the league on Feb. 19 with the season beginning on the weekend of March 24-25.