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Casey Krueger signs 3-year deal with Washington Spirit

Casey Krueger has signed with the Washington Spirit. (Bill Barrett/USSF/Getty Images).

Free agent U.S. women’s national team defender Casey Krueger has signed with the Washington Spirit, the team announced on Wednesday.

It’s a three-year deal that runs through 2026.

Krueger made her NWSL debut in 2016 with her hometown Chicago Red Stars. Since then, the Naperville native has made 96 appearances for Chicago.

Now, the USWNT defender has decided to move east.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the Washington Spirit,” Krueger said in a release. “From the outstanding leadership to the incredibly talented roster, it is clear that this is a world class organization that’s leading the way in women’s football. I look forward to continuing my growth as a player in the Nation’s Capital and helping the team accomplish even more success.”

In an interview with Pro Soccer Wire, Krueger said that the decision to move clubs wasn’t one she thought she’d be making.

“It definitely wasn’t a position I thought I’d be in, looking for a new team at this point in my career,” said Krueger. “I really wanted a place where I could continue to grow and where I could compete for something.”

After conversations with Spirit owner Michele Kang, Krueger noted how Kang’s commitment to the Spirit inspired her to be part of the team. Washington also showed up with a plan on how to help Krueger balance playing and being a mother.

Krueger says that they were “proactive” in doing so, and it made the decision easier.

Even still, leaving Chicago is difficult. Krueger isn’t the first free agent to do so, with Tierna Davidson opting to sign with Gotham FC.

“It’s bittersweet,” Krueger told Pro Soccer Wire. “I’m so sad. I mean, Chicago is my home. It’s where my family [is], my friends. It’s where I grew up. I take so much pride — and took so much pride — playing for my city and representing my city.

“So to be walking away at this point, it’s really, really sad, but at the same time, necessary I think, for my individual goals, collective goals, just to continue growth. Obviously I wish Chicago all the best. They’ll always have a special place in my heart. That organization means so much to me, and I’m just incredibly grateful for everything they’ve done, but it was just clear that it was time to move on.”

The Spirit recently announced that Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez would be its next head coach. Giráldez brings with him championship-winning experience, having won the Champions League with Barcelona.

“Casey brings a championship pedigree and veteran presence to the Spirit,” said Washington Spirit President of Soccer Operations/General Manager Mark Krikorian. “With her world-class defensive qualities, she will instantly enhance our defense’s potential. Her experience and grit will be essential to our team both on and off the pitch.”