The foundation of the National Women's Soccer League was announced on November 21, 2012, with Washington selected as a host for one of the eight teams selected for the inaugural season. In December 2012, the team's name was announced as the Washington Spirit. D.C. United Women head coach Mike Jorden was kept on as well as assistant coach Cindi Harkes. Harkes is the wife of former U.S. international and D.C. United star John Harkes.
In January 2013, the team unveiled its new colors and badge. The badge was designed to resemble a torch reflecting the notion of "Burning with Spirit." It also contains a crown that holds 11 stars to represent the 11 players on the field and a ball with a single star to represent the 12th player (the team's fans) placed where the fuel for the torch would be representing how the fans "fuel the spirit." All of the components of the badge are "wrapped in the Banner of Spirit for a patriotic theme honoring our flag and all of those who have given their lives and sacrificed much so we can enjoy the freedoms we have."
The logo was designed by freelance designer, Pete Schwadel and incorporates the team colors of navy, red, and white further reinforcing the patriotic theme woven throughout the team's history. It also features both "Washington" and "DC" to represent the team's connection with the District and the greater Washington metropolitan area.
The Spirit finished the 2015 NWSL season with a record of 8-6-6. Though they made it to the semi-finals for the second season in a row, the Spirit fell to the Seattle Reign 3-0 and did not progress to the final match. The Spirit's Crystal Dunn was awarded the league's Golden Boot award, for leading the league in goals. During the 2015 NWSL season, Dunn scored a total of 15 goals in 20 games.
The Washington Spirit play their home games at Maryland SoccerPlex located in Germantown, Maryland. The stadium features seating for 3,200 with corresponding restroom facilities; and a formal press box and box office. The playing field measures 115 x 75 yards. The stadium has previously hosted a US Olympic qualifier, MLS Open Cup matches, a CONCACAF Champions League match, the ACC Men's Soccer Championships, USL and W League matches, training sessions for Argentina's Boca Juniors and the New Zealand National team. The US Youth Soccer National Championships were also held at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Spirit Squadron is the name of the supporter's group for the Spirit. The group was started by three friends – Ashley Nichols, Megan Wesson and Tory Johnson. Of the group's founding, Nichols said, "... with a new league we needed to show the team as much support as possible because we really want a women's pro league to stay here in the United States. So between that and wanting to also provide a fun experience for fans, we decided to create the Spirit Squadron."