30 Oct The NWSL’s Washington Spirit have been forced to train at a high school because of an ownership feud
An ownership feud has forced the NWSL’s Washington Spirit to train at a local high school.
The team held recent practices at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, per The Athletic.
The move comes as Spirit leadership struggles to strike a deal with DC United for facility use.
The Washington Spirit are once again embroiled in controversy.
And their players are paying the price.
The National Women’s Soccer League club has been holding recent training sessions at Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Virginia, amidst a feud between the franchise’s ownership and that of MLS side DC United.
Between Audi Field and a new training center in Virginia’s Loudoun County, the Spirit have practiced at United-owned facilities throughout the 2021 NWSL season. And while an agreement signed in 2019 offered Washington’s players access to the new training center as soon as it was completed, the MLS club’s leadership and the Spirit’s owners have failed to come to terms on the price tag.
According to The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer, DC United’s management requested $16,000 per month from the NWSL side for use of the complex, which boasts grass fields, a weight room, recovery facilities, and a film room.
Washington – which has been in the throes of a not-so-secret internal power struggle between owners Michele Kang and Steve Baldwin – is reportedly reluctant to make any long-term commitments until the dust settles. In the face of mounting public pressure, Baldwin stepped back from his role as CEO and managing partner of the Spirit and later confirmed his intention to sell his shares in the club.
But Baldwin’s actions as owner of the club may have led to DC United’s hard stance against the club. In May, the tech executive wrote a letter addressed to “Spirit Nation” in which he blamed United for scheduling issues that resulted in the NWSL moving a Washington home game to Houston.
According to Maurer, “the relationship between United and the Spirit soured” after the club published Baldwin’s note.
Washington has already clinched its spot in the newly-expanded NWSL playoffs with one game remaining in the regular season. Whether players will continue training at a local high school while pursuing the franchise’s first-ever NWSL championship still remains to be seen.
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