Skip to content

The Washington Spirit are thriving. Ashley Hatch is not.

The striker has been pushed wider and deeper in her team’s new tactical approach. The system is working, but Hatch is getting the short end of the stick.

5 min read
Design: Peyton Gallaher

The Washington Spirit are absolutely flying. 

The team has racked up 12 points through their first five games of the NWSL season, sitting a mere point back of first place. 

Ouleymata Sarr is thriving in her new home as a No. 9, giving center backs headaches for 90 minutes. Croix Bethune has been a revelation in her rookie campaign, making everyone forget the pain of losing Ashley Sanchez. Hal Hershfelt has dazzled with some highlight goals and her fair share of midfield grit, belying her inexperience. Trinity Rodman has been, well, Trinity Rodman. Interim head coach Adrian Gonzalez has done more than most likely expected while keeping the seat warm for FC Barcelona manager Jonatan Giraldez until mid-June.

Ashley Hatch has experienced none of this joy. In fact, this may be the most brutal season of Hatch’s career. 

It was not so long ago that Hatch, once a regular for the U.S. women’s national team, was the centerpiece of Washington’s attack. As a striker, she provided the perfect outlet for Sanchez and Rodman’s service, while also operating as a defense-sucking menace to give those two dribble artists room to move. That attacking setup helped the Spirit win an NWSL Championship in 2021, and helped keep their last two seasons more respectable than they might have otherwise been.

Indeed, only Sophia Smith has scored more NWSL regular season goals since 2021 than Hatch. 

The underlying performance backs up that figure, too: of the 55 forwards (per FBref’s Stathead database) to log at least 2,000 regular-season, normal-time minutes since 2021, the 28-year-old sits seventh on the non-penalty xG per 90 leaderboard. This is a proven goalscorer around whom an attack should be built, no? 

According to Gonzalez and Giraldez, apparently not. 

Here’s a quick snapshot, courtesy of FBref, of what Hatch has done through five games with the Spirit this season.





Non-penalty xG/90




Touches in the Attacking Third/90


Touches in the Box/90


These are disastrous figures for a forward. The decline from her previous seasons is simply scandalous. How could this be happening so suddenly to a once-elite striker?

This post is for paid subscribers


Already have an account? Log in