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Spirit coach cites ‘structural problem’ for Emily Sonnett trade

Emily Sonnett of the Washington Spirit and teammates celebrate their NWSL Challenge Cup semifinal win. (Ira L. Black/Getty Images)

The 2023 NWSL Draft brought with it a plethora of trades, one of which sent Emily Sonnett from the Washington Spirit to the OL Reign.

A U.S. women’s national team defender, Sonnet has played for the Spirit for the past two seasons, and she helped the team win the NWSL title in 2021.

“I’m really happy to bring Emily Sonnett in, with her experience of winning and knowing what it takes,” OL Reign coach Laura Harvey said. “She has played in multiple roles, it’ll be something that I’ll be speaking to her about, to look at where we feel is the best fit for her. [She’s] obviously coming back off an injury and now is in national team camp, which sets her up well for preseason.”

Sonnett was drafted first overall by the Portland Thorns in 2016, and she played with the Thorns for four seasons. While she was traded to Orlando ahead of the 2020 season, she never played for the Pride as the league suspended play due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Sonnett was loaned to a league in Sweden.

In December 2020, Sonnett was traded to Washington. She made 28 appearances during her time with the Spirit.

But according to Mark Parsons, who recently was brought back as head coach of the Spirit, the team is seeking to “rebalance” what he called a “structural problem,” particularly ahead of this summer’s World Cup.

The most recent USWNT roster features five Spirit players, including Sonnett, and national team players could miss an extended period around the tournament in July and August.

“The timing could be better. … but what we knew and felt from OL Reign was they really believed and were invested in this, and they were going to give Emily the opportunity she deserves,” he said. “We have some big needs in other areas, and we’re working very successfully on other areas in the back line that we [need to] fill.”