The Washington Spirit host the Chicago Red Stars for a rematch of the 2021 NWSL Championship game. You may recall that it went quite favorably for the Spirit, completing a dramatic 2-1 comeback with the winning goal coming in added extra time.
However, both teams are quite different from that day. Washington head coach Kris Ward has had more time to fully implement his preferred style of play, particularly more sustained pressing. While the Red Stars have a new coach altogether after then-head coach Rory Dames was allowed to step down the day after the championship, and just ahead of allegations of abuse reported by Molly Hensley-Clancy of the Washington Post.
With Dames out, Chicago turned to former Notre Dame, University of Texas and SMU head coach Chris Petrucelli. The results so far have been impressive, but also, dare I say, fun? The Red Stars deploy a back three system, but apart from that the goal is to win midfield. Whether that’s done with positioning or flat out numbers, they want to possess the ball in midfield and spray it to runners. When Mal Pugh is one of those runners, well, things get real fun real fast.
While the Spirit had to battle and suffer to break down Chicago to win their first ever championship, this match (aside from the stakes) should be tactically more intriguing with each coach looking to assert their style of play.
The one caveat is that it’s at Segra Field in Leesburg, VA, which, in addition to being far away from Washington, is also a poor turf surface that will be baked even drier by 90° temperatures. It’s a shame that a match this tactically interesting, and with world class talents, will be subject to performance-compromising conditions. Let’s hope we get a good and injury-free contest regardless.
Location: Segra Field, Leesburg, VA
Kickoff time: 7:00pm ET
Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (int’l)
Washington Spirit team news: OUT - Jordan Baggett (concussion), Dorian Bailey (cheekbone), Camryn Biegalski (Covid protocol), Averie Collins (knee), Tori Huster (SEI – left lower leg), Tara McKeown (calf), Kelley O’Hara (hamstring), Gaby Vincent (calf); QUESTIONABLE - None
Oh yeah, the pandemic. With fullback Camryn Biegalski out while in covid protocol, and Kelley O’Hara set to miss the match with hamstring tightness, the Spirit will likely rely on Julia Roddar and Anna Heilferty as fullbacks. However, Andi Sullivan’s name remains absent from this list which is continued good news, even if the surface at Segra Field will require additional precautions in playing time.
Chicago Red Stars team news: OUT - Tierna Davidson (SEI – right knee), Morgan Gautrat (left calf), Casey Krueger (maternity leave), Alyssa Mautz (left hip), Bianca St. Georges (illness), Kealia Watt (left knee), Sarah Woldmoe (maternity leave), Arin Wright (right hip); QUESTIONABLE - None
Previously: Oh, you know...