Spirit signs USWNT defender Casey Krueger to three-year deal

One day after announcing Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez as its next coach, the Washington Spirit made another offseason splash by signing U.S. national team defender Casey Krueger to a three-year contract.

A two-time NWSL Best XI honoree, Krueger spent the past eight seasons with the Chicago Red Stars. She played for Spirit General Manager Mark Krikorian at Florida State from 2008 to 2012 and was the fifth pick in the 2013 NWSL draft.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the Washington Spirit,” Krueger said in a news 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.”

Krueger, 33, was first called up to the U.S. women’s national team in 2016. She helped the Americans qualify for the 2019 World Cup but was a surprise omission from that tournament roster. Krueger earned a bronze medal with the United States at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and, despite being left off the World Cup roster, played in five U.S. matches in 2023.

“Casey brings a championship pedigree and veteran presence to the Spirit,” Krikorian said. “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.”

Regarded as one of the NWSL’s top one-on-one defenders, Krueger made 20 starts for the Red Stars last year, typically as an outside back. The Spirit has an opening at right back after trading last season’s starter, Dorian Bailey, to Bay FC last month ahead of the expansion draft.

Krueger is the first addition to the Spirit’s 2024 roster. Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, who joined Washington in 2022, re-signed with the club on a one-year deal last week. Defender Amber Brooks and midfielder Bayley Feist are unrestricted free agents, while midfielder Marissa Sheva and winger Camryn Biegalski are restricted free agents, meaning the Spirit can match any offers they receive.

Washington has two first-round picks (No. 7 and No. 13) in Friday’s NWSL draft. The regular season begins March 16. Giráldez is set to take over in June after the conclusion of Barcelona’s season.

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