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Recap: Christen Press gives Angel City FC a 1-0 win over the Washington Spirit

The Spirit can’t find their stride and suffer their first regular season loss under Kris Ward

Kelley Piper / Black and Red United

The Washington Spirit drop their second game in a row under Kris Ward, losing 1-0 to visitors Angel City FC. It was a poor performance by the Spirit’s lofty standards, and losing track of Press for a moment allowed her to break into the box and score a trademark goal.

After a cagey first few minutes the match got into a bit of a flow with the Spirit having a couple early glimpses of danger through Anna Heilferty and Trinity Rodman. Heilferty found a pocket of space at the top of the box to run into but a heavy touch allowed a defender to clear before any danger could be created. In the 15th minute Trinity Rodman did well to catch up to a long ball from Emily Sonnett but could only dig out a low cross that was easily cut out.

The Spirit weren’t able to find their attacking rhythm on the pitch but did well to repel Angel City attacks. That is, until the 42nd minute when Christen Press switched to the Spirit’s right defensive side. The USWNT star got behind Morgan Goff and charged into the box, curling a shot around Aubrey Kingsbury and into the far bottom corner.

HT; 0-1 Press

At halftime, Kris Ward swapped Taylor Aylmer for Bayley Feist to try to gain some traction in attack. However, the Spirit still never got into their flow. In the 58th minute Ward tried again, bringing on Ashley Sanchez for Morgan Goff and shifting Julia Roddar to right back. Sanchez gave the team more bite in midfield, but still couldn’t craft a chance dangerous enough to equalize.

Things shifted again in the 74th minute when Ward brought Tinaya Alexander into the forward line and shifted Heilferty just before the second half hydration break. Alexander’s energy helped the Spirit win a few more second balls but cohesion in the final third remained elusive.

As the match wore on, the Spirit went back to last season’s escape hatch as they looked for Rodman with long balls over the top. Rodman worked her typical magic to get into the box and put Angel City under pressure, but the final linkup just wouldn’t come. On one occasion, Christen Press tracked back and fouled Rodman from behind, earning a yellow card.

The foul seemed to spark some life into the Spirit as they kept the ball around Angel City’s box for a sustained spell. After a few crosses and strikes were blocked, Sam Staab found herself in the box and able to line up a shot. However, it was on her weaker foot and her volley rolled wide of goal.

Washington’s last good chance of the match and came in one minute into stoppage time as Sanchez sprung Rodman free down the right flank. Last season’s rookie of the year drove into the box and tried to pick out Ashley Hatch at the near post but her low cross was deflected behind.

Unfortunately the Spirit never found their rhythm and ended the match failing to fashion a clear cut chance to equalize, and ended the match with just one shot on target. The loss kicks off a barrage of games in which the Spirit have a match every 3-5 days until post-June 17.

The Spirit are back in action Wednesday, May 18, at Portland.

Box Score

NWSL Regular Season

Washington Spirit - 0

Angel City - 1 (Press 42)


Spirit (4231): Aubrey Kingsbury (C); Camryn Biegalski (Alexander, 74), Sam Staab, Emily Sonnett, Morgan Goff (Ashley Sanchez, 58); Julia Roddar, Taylor Aylmer (Bayley Feist, 45); Anna Heilferty, Dorian Bailey, Trinity Rodman; Ashley Hatch

Angel City (433): DiDi Haracic; Tyler Lussi (Taylor, 90+5), Vanessa Gilles, Megan Reid, Jasmyne Spencer; Cari Roccaro, Dani Weatherholt, Savannah McCaskill (Nielsen, 90+7), Jun Endo, Simone Charley (Le Bihan, 45), Christen Press (Breslin, 89)


Spirit - Roddar 45+1

Angel City - Press 77, Breslin 90+6