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The Washington Spirit added six new players to the team earlier this month in Anaheim, California during the 2024 NWSL Draft, including four first round picks. We caught up with the club’s President of Soccer Operations/General Manager Mark Krikorian about the newest team members.
Q: What was the staff’s approach to this year’s draft?
A: This was a very good draft class, we thought that there were some really strong players, top to bottom. Part of our philosophy was that we were looking to improve ourselves in each of the lines: We wanted to be able to secure a player or two in the back line, midfield, and front line to be able to make us better, and I think we did that. We’ve taken some very high-profile players that people know of and some lesser-known players that we think will add tremendous value to this year’s team.
Q: What excites you about Jona[tan Giráldez] working with these new players and our existing roster?
A: I think, philosophically, these players are going to very much enjoy the style of play that we’re going to to implement. What we put together in this draft class is a collection of very good soccer players, but also very good athletes. I do think that there is a great deal of potential among them. Some of them are going to come in, compete for a starting spot, others are going to work their way into it over the course of time. But you know, that will obviously be earned during the preseason with our staff.
Q: Fantastic. How do you think these players fit Jona’s style and vision for this team?
A: I think most of these players are coming from programs that highlighted their quality with the ball and that is such an important piece with Jona’s level of comfort with the ball and his willingness to hold the ball under pressure – connecting passes, escaping pressure, great technical quality. So, I think that we have been able to pick up some really talented players, but also talented players that still have room for growth.
Q: How would you describe our latest draft picks in your own words?
A: Croix [Bethune] is an attacking midfield player. She’s a magician with the ball. She quick, she’s clever, she’s capable of scoring goals, she’s capable of giving the final path, she makes her teammates better.
I had the chance to see Hal [Hershfelt] play quite a bit, with her being an ACC player, and the development that she’s had under the staff at Clemson has been great. Her strong points are her range, work ethic and ability to read the field. We can see her effectively protecting the back line and generating the attack out of that holding midfield spot.
Kate Wiesner, I would say is arguably the best back coming out of the draft. She’s two-footed, she’s athletic, she’s versatile. We thought that she was the best individual defender in the draft as well, so she’s going to come in and show that she’s ready to play.
Makenna Morris is very talented, very versatile. Maybe the most versatile player in the draft. You know, Clemson used her primarily as an outside back, but also as a winger. She’s capable of playing on both the left and the right, she’s capable of playing outside. She’s also capable of playing in the middle of the midfield. So, again we think we have a very talented player that brings great versatility and has the potential to come in and help us right away.
Anna Podojil is an interesting one. At the end of the NCAA season, she suffered a torn ACL, and we thought that if if she had been healthy, she would have been a top pick. We’re looking forward to having her work with our medical team and performance team to help her rehab. That’s a pick that we look at and think that could be a real steal for us going forward as she gets herself back healthy and into the proper level of fitness. She’s gonna come in as a very good attacking player, wonderful dribbling player, and she has scored a lot of goals at Arkansas.
Courtney Brown was maybe a little bit under the radar in some ways, but she’s a wonderfully gifted midfield player. All of the different coaches [Assistant Coach Mike Bristol] I talked to out west about Courtney said she made all of her teammates better. She is clever and sophisticated in her play, and I think she’ll come in and compete for playing time.
Q: Reflecting on this year’s draft as a whole, how do you feel about it?
A: We feel really good. We’ve picked up a number of very talented players that address each of our lines. Overall, we accomplished our goal. We brought in a collection of very talented women that are going to come in and compete to play and continue to raise the bar here in DC.
Fans can secure their tickets to all 2024 Spirit home matches and see the club’s newest players with a season membership. Available here, the season membership grants fans access to priority seating, an exclusive gift from the Spirit, access to special events throughout the season and more. This season will feature two new clubs in the NWSL, Bay FC and Utah Royals FC, and a 26-match regular season. The Spirit will open training camp and announce its initial preseason roster with its new additions this week in preparation for the 2024 season which kicks off in mid-March.