Caprice DydascoDiDi HaracicEstelle JohnsonNWSL Draft

The Washington Spirit had a busy Thursday at the 2019 NWSL Draft. Here is a breakdown of the five players that the Spirit took.

The 2019 NWSL Draft has come and gone. It was a crazy day for the Washington Spirit, who made five picks and two trades on the day. All in all, the Spirit were able to add five new names to their roster. They added Jordan DiBiasi, Samantha Staab, Tegan McGrady, Dorian Bailey, and Bayley Feist.

Jordan DiBiasi – 3rd overall pick

Jordan DiBiasi is a midfielder out of Stanford University. A Highlands Ranch, Colorado native, DiBiasi was named a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist and Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year in 2018. She won the 2017 National Championship as a member of the Stanford Cardinal where she was a teammate of current Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan and fellow draft pick Tegan McGrady.

In her four years at Stanford, DiBiasi played 92 games, starting all but one of those games. She scored 31 goals and had 23 assists with 15 of those goals being game winners. DiBiasi could be an important part of the midfield when it comes to facilitating goals.

Sam Staab – 4th overall pick

Sam Staab is a defender out of Clemson University. While she has been known to play both left back and center back, Staab said that she is most comfortable playing center back, a position the Spirit desperately need help at. The San Diego, California native played in 18 of the 21 games for Clemson her senior year. As a junior, she logged the most minutes of her team at 1,802 minutes. She had 11 assists from the backline in her senior season as her left foot became a vital weapon for the Tigers. Head coach Richie Burke said after the draft that he plans to play Staab at left center back for the team this upcoming season.

Tegan McGrady – 7th overall pick

Tegan McGrady is a defender out of Stanford University. Alongside fellow draft pick Jordan DiBiasi and current Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan, McGrady won the 2017 National Championship with Stanford. McGrady has one cap with the full U.S. national team. She made her debut for the U.S. against Mexico in April of 2018. She also made the All-Pac-12 first team in 2018.

McGrady played in 72 games as a member of the Stanford Cardinal for four years. She started in 61 of those games, scoring four goals and recording 13 assists. While she didn’t score often, she did manage to make it count as three of her four career goals were game winners. With the trades that occured on draft day, she will become a valuable asset on the backline for the Spirit.

Dorian Bailey – 8th overall pick

The fourth and final pick of the first round for the Spirit was Dorian Bailey from the University of North Carolina. Bailey is a midfielder who played in 86 games at UNC. After starting less than a third of her games her first three years, Bailey started all 27 games she played in in 2018. She had her best season statistically as a junior as she racked up 21 points. She finished with 17 goals and 17 assists in four years at North Carolina. She was also named to the third-team All-ACC team. When the Spirit have players leave for the World Cup, Bailey will play an important role. Even when the Spirit are at full strength, Bailey offers a nice bit of depth in the midfield.

Bayley Feist – 17th overall pick

The Spirit traded up to get Bayley Feist with the 17th overall pick. Feist played collegiately at Wake Forest. She was named to the All-ACC second team in 2018 as well as the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region second team. In her four years in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Feist played in 78 games, starting 61 of those games. She had 54 points in her career, netting 22 goals. Her 22 goals is the most for a graduating Wake Forest player since 2013. Of those 22 goals, five were game winners. Feist joins Tori Huster, Aubrey Bledsoe, and Rose Lavelle as the Cincinnati girls on the Spirit roster.

Trades

The Spirit made two trades on Thursday. The first was to send three players and the 29th pick of the 2019 draft to Sky Blue in exchange for the 3rd overall pick on Thursday. With the third pick, the Spirit were able to draft Jordan DiBiasi out of Stanford. In exchange, the Spirit sent their captain Estelle Johnson, left back Caprice Dydasco, and goalkeeper DiDi Haracic to Sky Blue.

The second trade was between the Spirit and the Portland Thorns. Washington sent the 31st overall pick in the 2019 draft and the Spirit’s natural 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft to Portland in exchange for the 17th overall pick in the 2019 draft. That allowed the Spirit to draft Bayley Feist.

Jim GabarraNWSL Draft

On Thursday morning, the 2018 NWSL Draft took place in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Headed into the draft, all the talk was surrounding Andi Sullivan and whether or not she would declare for the draft. With seven picks in the round, including the first overall pick, the Washington Spirit was paying close attention to Sullivan’s decision.

Sullivan did declare late Wednesday night and was taken with the first overall pick by the Spirit. In doing so, it brought back a local high school product to the DMV. Because of US National Team camp duties, Sullivan was not present for the draft.

“Well, I think the great thing about Andi is she’s a better person than she is a soccer player,” head coach Jim Gabarra said when speaking to reporters after the draft. “So I think it’s certainly huge for our club to add her into the group that we have and fight for time in midfield and really be one of the core members of our squad.”

Kelley Piper | Follow Your Spirit
Head coach Jim Gabarra speaks with the media after picking seven in the 2018 NWSL Draft.

The Spirit also selected Canadian international and Duke product Rebecca Quinn with the third overall pick. In the second round, Schuyler DeBree and Mallory Eubanks were selected. The third round brought two familiar Spirit Reserves faces back to the Maryland SoccerPlex. Brittany Basinger was picked at 21 and Maddie Huster, sister of current Spirit midfielder Tori Huster, with the 26th pick. To round out the selections, Rachel Moore was picked with the first pick in the fourth and final round.

Of the seven draft picks, four had played previously for the Spirit Reserves, Washington’s W-League affiliate. This continues a trend of college Reserves players being drafted by the professional team.

“It’s kind of a transition into what we hope will be at some point players who play with our [development academy] and then are “Home Grown Players” but we don’t have that rule in place now in our league. In this case we’ve got players who we have seen with our reserves team over the last 3-5 years and rather than bring a player who’s new to our club, it’s a lot easier to bring a kid in that’s been with us whether that’s for a couple summers or a summer before.”

With a majority of the picks being able to play in the midfield role, the Spirit find themselves with an embarrassment of riches at that position. Gabarra sees this as a helping point moving forward.

“We want to play with like 15 players,” Gabarra said. “We’re like all midfield. We are really deep in there and it’ll be healthy competition and it will give us the opportunity to also make sure that our rookie players are getting the chance to get used to the league without the pressure of coming in and having to be a savior or start and play in every match.”

At the draft, the Spirit Squadron showed up and was in full on chanting mode from the beginning. Sky Blue was also well represented by their supporters group, Cloud 9.

“It’s great. I think they definitely beat out their performance in Baltimore,” Gabarra said. “I think you want to credit Cloud 9 from Sky Blue for being here to kind of challenge them a bit. It’s great to see in our game that you are getting to the point where you get supporters who are singing and chanting and screaming at us from the fans.”

Preseason camp opens for the league on Feb. 19 with the season beginning on the weekend of March 24-25.