The Washington Spirit host the North Carolina Courage in Leesburg, VA for a regular season rematch of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Final. The final whistle will mark the end of the 27-day streak of matches played with fewer than five days of rest between games. In this span the Spirit will have played eight games, with five being on the road. It has truly been a brutal streak, and the Spirit need naps. Several. Unlimited maybe.
On a positive note, as injured and exhausted as the team is, they’ve only lost two of those matches. A wild second half stoppage time prevented them from getting a win during this stretch, but they’ve done well in other matches to secure a point, including two rescue jobs against the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars.
North Carolina had been in a rut since lifting the Challenge Cup trophy and sloshing Budweiser around. They lost at home to Orlando Pride and San Diego Wave then drew with Houston Dash before picking up their first win of the season in Kentucky against Racing Louisville.
Particularly noteworthy is that the 3-0 scoreline coincided with the return of devastating attacker, Kerolin, who was injured by a Sam Staab slide tackle in the Challenge Cup Final. Though Kerolin didn’t register anything on the scoresheet, the attention she draws fuels the Courage attack. Debinha had a goal and an assist, and rookie striker Diana Ordoñez got in on the scoring action.
Typically, facing teams that press out of unorthodox structures (Chicago Red Stars, North Carolina Courage) has not gone well for the Spirit without Andi Sullican. Unfortunately the USWNT midfielder is out of the match with a quad injury, so whatever midfield group Kris Ward names will have their work cut out. It could be the perfect time to rely on the veteran experience of Amber Brooks as the midfield anchor.
In any case, it’s Pride Night at Segra against the North Carolina Courage so you are morally and contractually obligated to show up in your very best #PrideFit and be as loud as you can.
Location: Segra Field, Leesburg, VA
Kickoff time: 7:00pm ET
Referee: Jeremy Scheer
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.) & Twitch (int’l)
Washington Spirit team news: OUT - Jordan Baggett (45 DL - concussion), Dorian Bailey (cheekbone), Averie Collins (knee), Tori Huster (SEI – left lower leg), Devon Kerr (thumb), Alia Martin (quad), Tara McKeown (foot), Andi Sullivan (quad), Gaby Vincent (quad); QUESTIONABLE - None
The Spirit continue the trend of good news/bad news on the injury report. The positive development is the absence of Kelley O’Hara’s name, meaning she should be good for some minutes. The bummer is that Andi Sullivan is listed as out with a quad injury. Sullivan was subbed at halftime against Gotham FC after sustaining a heavy challenge, and was out of the midweek game versus Chicago.
During his prematch presser, Kris Ward noted that Jordan Baggett has been cleared to practice and is working toward the next steps of her recovery on the pitch. Gaby Vincent and Tara McKeown are also progressing. The former is scheduled to drop off of the 45-day DL list sometime next week and there’s an outside chance that McKeown may see her first minutes against Louisville on June 17th.
North Carolina Courage team news: OUT - Valerie Gauvin (left knee), KiKi Pickett (right knee), Taylor Smith (Covid protocol), Havana Solaun (right knee); QUESTIONABLE - None
Previously: The whirlwind of calamitous decisions that was the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Final, which the Courage won 2-1.