You may be asking yourself, ‘Wait, didn’t the Washington Spirit just play?’ and, reader, you would be right. Also, you will be asking yourself this question a lot over the next month. In the month between today’s match with Portland Thorns and the June 17 meeting with Racing Louisville, the Spirit play six (6!) matches. The combination of grueling league scheduling, NWSL physicality, injuries and inconsistent refereeing have led to a shaky stretch for the Spirit.
That said, the brutal thing about time is that it marches on anyway. An away win at Portland would go a long way toward resetting the vibe around the team. But that’s so much easier said than done, particularly against Rhian Wilkinson’s version of the Thorns.
Portland deploy a three-back system which frequently morphs into a full on five-back. They’re still dangerous in attack, in large part due to Sophia Smith’s continued ascendance, but it’s different, a bit slower and more cautious.
Given the Spirit’s abnormal day in midfield versus Angel City, the Thorns will either be the best or worst case scenario. If the issues persist, Portland will run the game start to finish. But if the Spirit are out to prove that match as an anomaly, you’ll see them at their deeply talented and defiant best.
Location: Providence Park, Portland, OR
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
Referee: Brad Jensen
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Paramount+, Twitch (int’l)
Portland Thorns team news: OUT - Crystal Dunn (maternity leave), Marissa Everett (right hip); QUESTIONABLE - None
Washington Spirit team news: OUT - Dorian Bailey (cheekbone), Jordan Baggett (concussion), Averie Collins (knee), Tori Huster (SEI - left lower leg), Tara McKeown (foot), Gaby Vincent (calf); QUESTIONABLE - Kelley O’Hara (hamstring), Andi Sullivan (calf)
The good news is that Ashley Sanchez, who was only used as a substitute versus Angel City, should be good to start. However, Jordan Baggett and Dorian Bailey are out, and with another game this Sunday, Andi Sullivan’s return is likely to be delayed as well. The team really missed Kelley O’Hara’s communication and organizing in the previous match, but we’ll have to wait and see if she’ll be unavailable for this match as well.