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NWSL Dec 24, 2020

Washington Spirit acquires USWNT defender Emily Sonnett

Boyds, Md. – The Washington Spirit have acquired FIFA World Cup Champion Emily Sonnett from the Orlando Pride. In the trade, Orlando receives midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, the 9th pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, a contingent first-round pick in a future draft, and $140,000 in allocation money.

Spirit Head Coach Richie Burke had this to say on the acquisition of Sonnett: “Adding another player from the USWNT World Cup winning squad is a major coup for our club. I think everyone knows that Emily Sonnett is an incredible competitor, another serial winner and someone I’ve really admired since I came into this league. I think she will make us better right away and provide leadership qualities that take us to another level. Her versatility and ability to play in several key roles for our club gives us tactical flexibility, allowing us to push some important players higher up the field. I’m absolutely ecstatic to get this player added at this time. It’s a really good early Christmas present for me!”

Sonnett, a 27-year-old centerback, was traded to the Pride on Jan. 8, 2020 from Portland for the first overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft. Because the Pride were forced to withdraw from the NWSL Challenge Cup due to Covid-19, Sonnett never appeared in a game for Orlando. In August, she signed a short term contract with Göteborg FC of the Swedish league. Sonnet made 10 appearances for Göteborg en route to their first Damallsvenskan title.

Prior to being traded to Orlando, Sonnett played four seasons for the Portland Thorns, winning an NWSL Championship in 2017. She appeared in 78 total games for the Thorns and tallied eight goals. In 2017, she was loaned to Syndey FC of the W-League, where she played alongside Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

A member of the U.S. Women’s National Team, Sonnett competed in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. At that tournament, the USWNT won the title for the fourth time. Sonnett has 46 appearances for the senior team.

At the University of Virginia, Sonnett appeared in 98 matches and recorded six goals. In 2015, she was named ESPNW National Player of the Year and a finalist for the MAC Herman Trophy. At the College Cup, she was named the 2014 Most Outstanding Defensive Player.

Spirit CEO and Director of Sporting Operations Larry Best had this to say about acquiring Sonnett: “We’re excited to welcome Emily to the Spirit family and back to familiar surroundings where she attended the University of Virginia. Emily brings both National Team and NWSL experiences that will serve our organization well both on and off the field.  Her veteran presence will be a welcomed addition to our 2021 roster.”

Dougherty Howard was picked 29th overall in the 2017 NWSL Draft by the Washington Spirit. After a stellar career at the University of Florida which saw her win SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player in her senior year, she has gone on to become the second longest-tenured Spirit player behind co-captain Tori Huster.

Spirit Head Coach Richie Burke had this to say on Dougherty Howard: “Over the last four years Meggie has been a dedicated player for our club and I’ve really enjoyed having her on my team over the past two seasons. She has always been my type of player, with an incredible football IQ and a very cerebral approach to the tactical side of the game. The opportunity to move nearer to her home in Florida and take on a new challenge at this stage of her career was one that we had discussed in our recent conversations. Now that this new direction has become a reality, I wish Meggie the very best of luck at Orlando and know that we will remain close as her career develops.”

Dougherty Howard played in 68 games and racked up 4,921 minutes played in her first three seasons in Washington. In 2020, the defensive midfielder featured in seven games, totaling 425 minutes. Dougherty Howard is known for her passing ability from the holding midfield spot and has managed a passing percentage over 83 for the past two seasons.

Spirit CEO and Director of Sporting Operations Larry Best had this to say about Dougherty Howard: “We want to wish all the best to Meggie and thank her for her time spent at the Spirit. She’s a true professional in every sense of the game and we will miss having her as part of the Spirit family.”

Emily Sonnett
Position: Defender
Height: 5-7
Born: November 11, 1994
Hometown: Marietta, Ga.
College: University of Virginia
Previous Club: Orlando Pride