Aubrey BledsoeCali FarquharsonFrancisca OrdegaGame Day CoverageGame PreviewMallory Eubanks

After three weeks on the road, the Washington Spirit will return home to take on the Portland Thorns. This will be the second meeting of the season for these teams. In the first matchup in Portland, Oregon, the two teams tied 1-1 on a first half goal from either side.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, May 19, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Rebecca Quinn,  Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, Estefania Banini; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Forward Cali Farquharson has been placed on the 45-day disabled list. Farquharson played in just one game for the Spirit so far in 2018, racking up in a total of eight minutes. In a corresponding move, the Spirit have signed 2018 draft pick Mallory Eubanks to a professional contract. Eubanks has appeared in three games for the Spirit in 2018, playing 79 minutes in total. She was previously under contract as a National Team Replacement Player.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury – D45), Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Estelle Johnson (right hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Score. The past two games, the Washington Spirit have been shutout. They now have scored 7 goals in seven games while allowing 11 goals. Portland has scored 11 goals in eight games played. The last time these two teams played, Francisca Ordega opened the scoring in the 37th minute, but a penalty kick goal in stoppage time of the first half tied it up for the Thorns. With Aubrey Bledsoe holding it down on the backline, one or two goals should be good enough for at least a point.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Andi SullivanEstefania BaniniEstelle JohnsonGame Day CoverageGame PreviewRebecca QuinnWhitney Church

The Washington Spirit and the North Carolina Courage will meet on Saturday evening for the second time this season. After a 4-2 defeat at home to North Carolina, Washington will now travel to Cary to take on the first place Courage.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, May 12, 2018

Location

Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Rebecca Quinn,  Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, Estefania Banini; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Estelle Johnson is listed as questionable with a hamstring strain. She injured her hamstring during practice on Wednesday. While it is still possible that she plays, her effectiveness will be a question for the match. During practice on Wednesday, Whitney Church and Rebecca Quinn were paired together at the center back position.  

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Estelle Johnson (right hamstring strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Win the midfield. North Carolina has one of the best midfields in the league. If the Spirit want to pick up a win on the road, they will have to improve the play of the midfield. With Estefania Banini returning and Rebecca Quinn expected to play on the backline, the midfield could look very different from weeks past. Expect Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, and Banini to be the trio faced with stopping the high powered Courage midfield. Banini will help improve the offensive production of the midfield, something that has been lacking over the past month.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Andi SullivanGame Day CoverageGame PreviewRebecca Quinn

For the first time in franchise history, the Washington Spirit will travel to Utah to take on the newest NWSL franchise, the Utah Royals.

Kick-Off

9:00 PM ET on Saturday, May 5, 2018

Location

Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Rebecca Quinn is no longer on the injury report. It is possible that she gets the start tonight against Utah. It is more likely however, that she come off the bench having not played since the Orlando match in week 2. Quinn will add much needed support for either the backline or the midfield. If she does slot into the midfield, expect Andi Sullivan to play more of an attacking style.

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Keep the pressure off the back five. Over the first five weeks of the season, Aubrey Bledsoe and the backline have had to do a lot of work. This backline is decent, but is not going to be able to withstand this amount of pressure for long. The midfield needs to do a better job of keeping the ball and not forcing the defense to get caught in awkward spots. If the team plays like they did in the first half of Portland, it’ll be an easy day at the office. If not, Amy Rodriguez and Kelley O’Hara could make them pay.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Estefania BaniniGame Day CoverageGame Preview

The Washington Spirit will return home to face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday evening.

Kick-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, April 28, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Estefania Banini and Yanara Aedo have returned to the active roster. Both were representing their countries, Argentina and Chile respectively, at the 2018 Copa America Femenina. With their return, Mallory Eubanks was released from the roster.

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Rebecca Quinn (right TFL muscle strain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Keeping Sam Kerr in check. After helping Australia qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Kerr returns to the NWSL and will make her Red Stars debut. The 2017 NWSL MVP was part of a monster draft day trade that sent her from Sky Blue to Chicago. If the Spirit want to come away with a point, keeping Kerr contained will be vital. Also, the Spirit will need to score quickly again and protect it because no lead is safe with Kerr on the other side of the pitch.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

 

Andi SullivanGame Day CoverageGame PreviewJoanna LohmanMallory PughRebecca Quinn

The Washington Spirit will hit the road to take on the Portland Thorns in their second trip out west of the season.

Tip-Off

10:30 PM ET on Friday, April 20, 2018

Location

Providence Park in Portland, Oregon.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Joanna Lohman, Mallory Pugh; Mallory Eubanks Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Mallory Pugh is not listed on the injury report this week, despite leaving last weekend’s game early because of an injury. Rose Lavelle and Rebecca Quinn remain on the injury report as out. Head coach Jim Gabarra had mentioned that it would be possible those two would be available for selection this weekend.

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Rebecca Quinn (right TFL muscle strain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Yanara Aedo (CHI), Estefania Banini (ARG)

Key to Victory

The midfield game. Last week against the North Carolina Courage, Mallory Pugh played in the midfield as a tactic to try and surprise the Courage. It did just that as Pugh scored just three minutes in. With Rebecca Quinn out for a second straight game, it will be up to Andi Sullivan to hold down that defensive midfield role once again. Joanna Lohman is the spark plug out of these three. She is the one that will be tasked with playing a combination of that attacking and defensive midfielder roles.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Game Day CoverageGame PreviewRebecca QuinnTaylor SmithWhitney Church

After a week off for a FIFA Break, the Washington Spirit return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex to take on the North Carolina Courage. This will be the first matchup of the regular season for the two teams. The two teams faced off in Richmond, VA in the preseason finale, a 3-0 win for North Carolina.

Tip-Off

7:00 PM ET on Saturday, April 14, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Havana Solaun; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega

Noteworthy

Rebecca Quinn is listed as out with a muscle strain in her hip. The Canadian international left the match early against Orlando on March 24. While Quinn traveled to France with the Canadian National Team, she did not see any time against France.

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Rebecca Quinn (right TFL muscle strain), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Yanara Aedo (CHI), Estefania Banini (ARG)

Key to Victory

Slow down the front line. When the Spirit played North Carolina in the preseason finale, the North Carolina front line tore the backline of the Spirit to shreds. If the Spirit want to come away with any points at all, it’s all about containing Lynn Williams and Crystal Dunn. But don’t get too focused on them because that is when Jessica McDonald will burn you. A strong performance from Church and Smith on the right side of the Spirit backline is vital.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Game Day CoverageGame Preview

The Washington Spirit will return home to take on the Orlando Pride in the home opener at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday afternoon.

Tip-Off

3:50 PM ET on Saturday, March 31, 2018

Location

Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland.

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Tori Huster; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Havana Solaun

Noteworthy

The Spirit signed Mallory Eubanks this week as a National Team Replacement Player. Eubanks, a 2018 draft pick, scored the only goal for Washington in the preseason. She replaces Estefania Banini and Yanara Aedo, who are both away at the 2018 Copa America Femenina. That tournament runs from April 4 through April 20. 

Injuries

OUT: Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Estefania Banini (ARG), Yanara Aedo (CHI)

Key to Victory

Get the offense going. Last week, the Spirit had numerous chances on goal but really struggled on the finishing side. A goal by Joanna Lohman in the 68th minute gave the Spirit hope, but that was all Washington could muster in search of a comeback. This week, against an Orlando team that gave up a goal before the game was even five minutes old, the Spirit need to grab a lead early. While the Spirit will be without Estefania Banini due to international duty, Marta will also be out for Orlando. If Alex Morgan (concussion) is not able to go for Orlando, it is even more vital that Washington pounce on the Pride early.

Stream

Lifetime

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

 

Game Day CoverageGame Preview

The Washington Spirit will travel to take on the Seattle Reign in the opening game of the sixth NWSL season.

Tip-Off

10:00 PM ET on Saturday, March 24, 2018

Location

Memorial Stadium in Seattle, Washington

Projected Starting Lineup

Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Havana Solaun; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Estefania Banini

Noteworthy

The Spirit picked up forward Tiffany Weimer off of waivers on Wednesday. Washington traded Weimer to Houston in February. Weimer will join the team in D.C. this week.

Injuries

OUT: Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury), Rose Lavelle (left hamstring strain), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (right ACL recovery – D45)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Key to Victory

Sound Defense. Against North Carolina in the preseason finale last week, the Spirit struggled defensively. There were visible holes in the group in their first game together. The play got a lot better when Rebecca Quinn slid into the centerback role, but a goal was still allowed. It is going to take a bit of getting used to for this group with the right side being completely new, but a strong showing against Seattle could go a long way.

Stream

Go90.com

Twitter

Follow @spiritcoverage and @jols98 for game updates and to keep your timeline to date with our Washington Spirit coverage on Twitter.

Christine NairnCrystal DunnFrancisca OrdegaGame PreviewNWSL PlayoffsWhitney Church

The 2016 NWSL Championship is finally here. After many months of games and practices, it all comes down to just one game. The Washington Spirit will play the Western New York Flash on Sunday in Houston, Texas. In the two previous meetings this season, the Spirit beat the Flash 3-0 and tied 1-1.

After beating the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 in the semifinals, the Spirit will look to hoist its first trophy in franchise history. Here are three things to look for on Sunday afternoon when the Spirit hit the pitch for the final.

1) Which back five will head coach Jim Gabarra “pull out of his hat” this week?

20160903_washwny_0653-x2

Gabarra has put together many different lineups this season, rotating his backline from week to week. Last week, the back five was comprised of Kelsey Wys in goal, Ali Krieger at right back, Whitney Church and Shelina Zadorsky as the center backs and Caprice Dydasco at left back. With Wys getting the nod even when Stephanie Labbé returned from the Rio Olympics, it would be surprising if she wasn’t the one between the pipes tomorrow afternoon. Another spot where change be surprising would be the outside backs. Dydasco and Krieger have both shown that they can work up and down the field, contributing to the offense while still fulfilling their defensive responsibilities. The real question will be who Gabarra pulls out of his hat to start in the middle of the defense. It appears Megan Oyster has fallen out of Gabarra’s starting projections. With Church, Estelle Johnson, and Zadorsky getting most of the minutes over the past few weeks, the starters will most likely come from these three. Zadorsky and Johnson seem like the most logical combination because of the height and speed of the Flash offense.

While it is still unclear who will be in the starting lineup come Sunday, the defense remains confident and prepared for the potent Flash offense.

“We’ve seen them before, so we kind of have an idea of what they can bring and what they can do,” Church said. “I think the coaching staff has done a really good job at preparing us for that, and as long as we stick to our game plan and have each other’s backs, I think we’ll go really far in this game and we’ll have a really great shot.”

2) Who will step up and score for the Spirit this week?

20160903_washwny_1369-x2

Eleven different Spirit players have scored this season, including forward Estefania Banini, who leads the team with five goals. While the defense has rotated, the forward line has changed even more. The same combination of forwards has not played together more than three games in a row this year. This has proven helpful for the forwards, as no one player has too much pressure placed upon them.

“For me, it’s great because teams don’t really know who to mark, who’s dangerous or what our capabilities are and I think that it’s gotten us to the point that we are in now,” forward Crystal Dunn said.

When facing such a high powered offense as the Flash , the Spirit has to be able to score multiple goals to keep up with WNY. Washington is ready for the challenge though, as everyone feels they are able to score. Ten of the Spirit’s 32 goals this season have come from midfielders or defenders, illustrating the team’s scoring depth.

“Everyone, everyone, I mean everyone, including the defenders, everyone is capable of scoring,” Francisca Ordega said. “It’s not just the forwards, anyone is capable of scoring. We are not relying on anybody, come Sunday, anyone can score. Hopefully we can score more goals come Sunday. Anybody can score, it might be our goalkeeper, she might score.”

3) The battle of the midfield will determine the outcome of the game.

20160903_washwny_1154-x2

While much of the talk is on the Flash offense vs. the Spirit defense, one area of the game that is overlooked is the midfield battle. The trio of Tori Huster, Joanna Lohman and Christine Nairn is one of the top midfields in the league. They will be tested on Sunday as they go up against a gritty Flash midfield. If the Spirit can play through its midfield like it did against Red Stars in the semifinals, the Spirit improve its chances of winning the game.

“I think that we know our strengths and weaknesses and what we can do to be the best as a team,” Nairn said. “I think we are going to stick to our game plan in the midfield, as well as respect players like McCall Zerboni is the first one to come to mind, she’s a battler. But Jo Lohman is also a battler. So I think we match up well with their team. At the end of the day, it’s who is going to put their body on the line and who is going to perform to the best of their abilities.”

Kickoff for the NWSL Championship game will be 4 p.m. (5 p.m. on the east coast). The match will be broadcasted live on Fox Sports 1.