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Australian forward Haley Raso and Nigerian defender Josephine Chukwunonye set to join Spirit after the Women’s World Cup

The Washington Spirit announced today the club has signed forward Hayley Raso and defender Josephine Chukwunonye, pending the receipt of each player’s P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).

Both Raso and Chukwunonye are currently in Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 representing Australia and Nigeria, respectively. Each player will take an international spot on the Spirit roster. Both players will join the Spirit following the conclusion of their respective team’s participation in the World Cup.

Raso has previously played in the Westfield W-League in Australia. She began her career in 2011 with Canberra United making 17 appearances through two seasons. She switched clubs in the 2013-14 season moving to the Brisbane Roar making 14 appearances and scoring four goals.

“I am so excited to be joining the Washington Spirit in the NWSL,” said Raso. “I have been following their success throughout the season and can’t wait to be a part of the Spirit family.”

Raso made her Matildas debut in June 2012 when she was only 17-years-old. She has become a fixture on the senior team under new head coach Alen Stajcic. Raso was on the bench for Australia’s opening match of the 2015 World Cup against the United States, a disappointing 3-1 defeat. Her side will face Nigeria on Friday.

“Hayley is a fast, explosive forward with a great future ahead of her,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Mark Parsons. “I believe she adds a different dynamic to our roster and can’t wait for her to join us soon.”

Chukwunonye debuted with the Super Falcons in 2011 and is currently playing in her second World Cup. Like Raso, she played the full 90 minutes of her country’s opening group stage match. It could be an interesting game tomorrow as Nigeria plays Australia in the second game of group stage.

“I am excited to join the Washington Spirit family; it’s a thing of joy and a dream come true for me,” said Chukwunonye. “I love playing with great players like Crystal Dunn, who I faced in the U20 World Cup in 2012. I am excited to work with coach Parsons because I know he will bring out the best in me.”

Chukwunonye’s entire professional career has been spent in Nigeria. She joined the River Angels in 2008 and has played there for the last seven years. Chukwunonye is the second Nigerian player added to the Spirit roster this season as she will be joining forward Francisca Ordega.

“Josephine is a very talented defender with tremendous character,” said Parsons. “She brings plenty of defensive qualities, while being very technical and confident with the ball at her feet.”

The Washington Spirit are back on the field following the NWSL’s 12-day World Cup break on Saturday, June 20 against the league-leading Chicago Red Stars at Benedictine University Stadium in Lisle, Ill.

Washington Spirit single game tickets are available now. Check out all of the phenomenal NWSL soccer at the Maryland SoccerPlex by calling 301-337-8579.