Preview and Poll: Washington Spirit vs Western New Flash

Cynthia Hobgood

The Washington Spirit travel to Rochester to take on the Western New York Flash tonight, hoping to break its four-game scoreless streak.

Washington (1-6-3, 6 points) will meet Western New York (5-2-4, 19 points) for the third time this season and the first time with mid-season addition Conny Pohlers. But the team will be without leading scorer Diana Matheson, who is still recovering from an ankle sprain.

The last meeting was a 2-0 win for the Flash, with both teams playing without key US and Canada National Team players.

The Spirit released Ingrid Wells, who was, of course, swooped up by...Western New York. I do not have any oficial word on reasoning, but this was a curious move to be sure. Washington needed to release a player to make room for the new pickups. But Wells' workrate and skill was impressive; the sole reason for her quiet season seems to have more to do with playing out of position than anything else.

Spirit Head Coach Mike Jorden appears to be struggling to figure out his lineup. Since he must both find offense and a way to have both Tori Huster and Toni Pressley on the field at the same time, moving Pressley into the midfield is an option that seems logical in order to take better advantage of Pressley's strength, size and powerful shot. It also solves the issue of Julia Roberts as the weakest link in the midfield.

After one game under her belt, I look for Pohlers to make a mark in this game. I'd pair her with Stephanie Ochs up top, whose speed and endurance has been an oft-overlooked asset for Washington. McCarty goes to the bench.

My suggested lineup tonight in a 4-4-2, using defensive midfield and attacking midfield, centrally:

  • Goalkeeper: Harris
  • Defenders: Krieger, Huster, Gayle, Hodak
  • Midfield: Pressley, Lindsey, Worbis (if healthy), Spenser
  • Forwards: Pohlers, Ochs

Missing Matheson again is surely a frustration for a Washington squad that looked to position itself for a little mid-season run after signing Pressley and Pohlers. Patience remains the word of the season. But injuries are not an excuse to become lax.

I want to see this team and its coaching staff employing every tactic possible to get the season on track. With the return of Hope Solo and the arrival of Megan Rapinoe, Seattle looks to be positioned to run right past Washington, unless adjustments are made. Chicago was emboldened by their veteran German duo of Sonja Fuss and Inka Grings. Perhaps Washington can also catch a little lightning in a bottle.

The road loss to an excellent Kansas City side was the worst performance by Washington of the season. Tonight's game could potentially be a turning point in the season. I'd feel more confident about the team's chances if Matheson were available to play. But in my mind, the time for patience has past. No one is expecting Washington to win the league and they are not even likely to make the playoffs. But it's time to see some progress.

Washington Spirit at Western New York Flash

Date: Friday, June 28, 2013
Time: 7:05 p.m. (EDT)
Pitch: Sahlen's Stadium
Forecast: High of 70 degrees, rain likely

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