So you think organizing your schedule with your spouse’s is difficult? Of course you do. Who will be home for dinner? Who can make that school meeting? Whose turn is it to do the grocery shopping? And since we forgot there’s a doctor’s appointment, the entire carefully orchestrated scheme falls like dominoes.
Try being Andi Sullivan and Drew Skundrich. From the middle of April until early November, their lives are dictated by two monstrously huge priorities, with dozens of calendar dates that rarely align.
Sullivan is the captain of the Washington Spirit, the Leesburg-based National Women’s Soccer League team, which travels the country from spring to fall, taking on nine opponents in cities from Orlando, Florida, to Tacoma, Washington. There are a dozen home games from Memorial Day to Halloween, which means Sullivan, 25, can relax at her Leesburg home with her husband of 22 months at least 12 times during those months.
Or maybe not. Because Skundrich’s schedule is just as zany.
Skundrich, also 26, plays for D.C. United, Washington’s Major League Soccer squad. There are 27 MLS clubs. His team’s 34-game schedule has him leapfrogging across two countries, with 17 matches at home. Which means Skundrich can kick back in Leesburg with his bride for at least 17 days. Right? Nope. Not even close.
An analysis of the two teams’ schedules shows their home matches coincide with each other just four times in seven months, with one or the other’s teams playing the day before or the day after. And that doesn’t consider preseason camps, preseason games, and postseason matches. Not a lot of together time.
But Sullivan and Skundrich, both midfielders wearing No. 12 on their respective teams, knew what they were getting into when they married in December 2019 at the Barn at Willow Brook in northeast Leesburg.
Moods were cheery the day we caught up with the always-moving couple in late July at their home, and for good reason. Sullivan’s Washington Spirit had defeated Racing Louisville in Kentucky the night before, 2 to 0. The victory moved her team into a playoff-contending third place in the standings. Meanwhile, Skundrich’s D.C. United squad had finally vanquished the rival New York Red Bulls at home at Audi Field in Washington in a slugfest, winning 1 to 0. Skundrich clocked all 90 minutes of the match and nearly scored on a header that hit the post.
“We were talking about it after the games, and we checked the scores, and I was like, ‘Oh, a great day for us,’” Sullivan says. But what happens when things go south for either, or both? Does a gloomy pall settle over the house?
“Not really,” Sullivan says. “It’s great because you have someone who understands what it’s like, so if one person wants to vent or talk about it, the other person can listen and really understand it. Now that we’re together in the same place, coming home is so joyous and relaxing, and it helps you reset for the next day. It gets rid of your bad mood, honestly.”
“Coming home, I just feel happy,” says Skundrich. “Happy to be with Andi. No matter what I’m feeling before, it pretty much goes away.”
If they’re blissing out in a cocooning phase, they know it could end any second, at least for a while. Being employees of professional sports teams, Sullivan acknowledges that “both of us could be traded [to another team] at any time. If we think about it at all, I’d say it’s in passing. We try to stay present.”
Sullivan, says Skundrich, “seems pretty secure with her spot [on the Spirit] because she’s a leader, she’s been successful, and she does lots of things with the club. For me, it’s a little different because I’ve kind of been all over the place, and I’m still trying to make my mark with D.C. United and work hard and earn my spot and recognition. I haven’t thought about being traded too much because I’m trying to focus on proving myself first.”
Post-soccer, which one hopes is years away, both Sullivan and Skundrich will cash in on the degrees they earned at Stanford University, where they met. “I’ve thought about it a lot,” says Skundrich, who studied human biology in college. “I’m still not 100 percent sure what I want to do, but I’m thinking either sports management or exercise science would be fun.”
She, on the other hand, majored in symbolic systems.
“It’s like a crossover between psychology and technology—that’s the short version,” she says. “It’s trying to understand the mind in humans, but also in machines, so what is computation or consciousness and things like that.”
We looked it up: “Through this cross-fertilization, students explore new frontiers of knowledge while gaining the kind of programming and critical thinking skills prized in places like Silicon Valley and other innovative communities,” says the Stanford website.
“That’s a real Stanford degree,” her husband adds.
The couple met as freshmen but didn’t start dating until their junior year. Both are from the East Coast—she’s from Lorton and a South County High product, and he’s a native of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. So it was remarkable to start with that they would find each other—two high-achieving high school soccer players on scholarships at one of the most storied Division I universities in the country—which is located the entire width of the United States away from their homes.
Their official first date resulted from a congratulatory text message Skundrich shot Sullivan when she made the U.S. National Team camp. (She has represented the U.S. at various age levels.) The date was dinner at a low-key, fast-casual campus eatery called the Treehouse with an all-over-the-map menu. “We talked a lot, laughed a lot; it was super fun,” Skundrich says. “Afterwards, I was telling people about it and couldn’t stop smiling.” (He’s still smiling.)
“We had known each other for a while, but just like acquaintances,” says Sullivan. “We had a lot of mutual friends who knew us and were encouraging us to go out on a date. And then it went really well.”
The professional contracts arrived at the end of their senior year. The NWSL draft was a day before the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, the timing of which made their hearts beat a bit faster. Sullivan was a cinch for the Spirit, which had the first pick in the draft. “She had practiced with them before,” Skundrich says. “She had a feeling she was going to be drafted there.” And that’s what happened. But for him, there were some clouds in this sunny story.
“I had no idea where I was going to go. In the back of my mind, I was kind of hoping I would end up with D.C. United,” he says wistfully. “But they didn’t draft me.”
The L.A. Galaxy did. He was the 40th overall pick in the draft. You will note that the distance between D.C. and L.A. is what is known in the dating world as “geographically undesirable.”
“It was still really exciting,” Sullivan says of draft week.
Happily, the Galaxy, in one of those only-in-professional-sports deals, wound up not signing him after drafting him. Instead, he signed with what was then the United Soccer League’s Bethlehem Steel FC, now the Philadelphia Union II. Philly was closer to Leesburg, where Sullivan was, but still …
But wait: After that first season in Philadelphia, Skundrich was plucked by USL’s Sacramento Republic. So, for 2019, it was back to California, for two full seasons, before signing with—ah, here it is—Loudoun United Football Club, the minor league team of the MLS D.C. United. In May of this year, he was called up to the MLS team, on a one-year deal with two option years, until 2023.
As a married couple in the NWSL and MLS—the only such pairing to play in the same city—Sullivan and Skundrich might be expected to live a soccer-immersive lifestyle. “People ask us if we’re clipping each other’s film [highlights] and things like that,” Sullivan says. They don’t. “I think we’re pretty normal outside of soccer.”
“Pretty normal,” of course, has been impacted by the events of the past year. “We like to cook and try new recipes, and that’s something we usually do together, which is nice,” says Sullivan. “It’s a good hobby. So that’s what we usually do in the evenings.”
“It’s usually a lot of the same stuff,” he adds. “Chicken or fish and then some type of vegetable. We try to mix up the spices or sauces.”
As for getting out, again, these Leesburg newcomers have been shut in pretty much since they moved in. “I’d say our favorite spot right now is Schmidt’s Barbecue,” Skundrich says. “And Cowbell Kitchen is also a really good one. We haven’t explored too much because of the pandemic. We’ve just started to go out this summer.”
“Dolce & Ciabatta, a little bakery, we like that,” adds Sullivan.
Their house is not bedecked in Spirit and United memorabilia. No souvenir scarves are draped over the mantel. There isn’t even a workout room for the two athletes. “That’s one of our offseason projects,” Sullivan says. “We definitely have some equipment lying around that we use. But it took a while for me to get comfortable training with Drew because I didn’t want him to see that intense person I could be up close [when working out] when we were dating. But then, as we traveled around together, it worked out great, so we do a little bit of stuff together in the offseason.”
Skundrich, on the other hand, “is more mellow,” she says.
“Andi will get frustrated with herself if she has one bad touch, and then, the rest of the day she’s like, ‘Oh, I did so bad,’ and I’ll say, ‘Well, no, you crushed it,’” says Skundrich.
“She’s super-intense like that and wants to be perfect with every single thing she does, and I’m kind of more relaxed and try to enjoy it as much as I can.”
“I’ve gotten better,” interjects Sullivan with a laugh. “He’s helped me a lot.”