The Washington Spirit are in the home state of many of its stars to face playoff hopefuls Angel City FC. Wednesday’s slate of matches will finally catch everyone up on games played and setup the final two weekends of the regular season.
For the Spirit, the end of their season is two weeks away while Angel City is still fighting to extend theirs. Annie Elliott and André Carlisle are here with three things to know ahead of tonight’s contest.
3 things to watch
This game required a quick turnaround for the Spirit, who played at home on Saturday and traveled to LA on Monday in an attempt to sufficiently overcome any jet lag ahead of a 10:30pm ET kickoff.
They’ll also be playing in front of the thousands of fans and celebrities that have been the standard for Angel City, who currently boasts the highest average attendance in the league. Lack of home-field advantage could prove an obstacle for the Spirit, as all three of this season’s wins came in front of a friendly crowd at Audi Field.
Angel City, meanwhile, will be playing in front of a home crowd in an NWSL game for the first time since August 14, and will have the added incentive of not wanting to see Jennifer Garner cry on CBSSN as she hands out their orange slices. ✍️ -Annie Elliott
The Washington Spirit may have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs the same day they secured their first winning streak of the season, but they can still play a part in mucking things up for a few others. Angel City are in a fight for the final playoff spot but currently sit in seventh, one spot from playoff qualification. However, their match with the Spirit would put them level on games played with Chicago, and if they win, they’ll close the gap to just a single point.
Chicago plays Portland this upcoming weekend, and Angel City faces Racing Louisville, before the two play each other on the final day of the regular season. If Angel City want to put maximum pressure on Chicago, and set themselves up to leapfrog them on the pitch October 2, then they really need these points.
But they’ll have to do it against the hottest team in the league. You heard that right, Washington’s back-to-back wins has given them the longest current streak in the league. We’re about to see how much this Spirit team enjoys playing The Grinch. ✍️ -André Carlisle
Choose your adventure
Now that their playoff hopes have been dashed, interim head coach Albertin Montoya has a choice to make: try to win out anyway, or experiment with new formations and/or combinations of players.
The end of the season could be the last chance for some players to make their mark on the team. As the recent departure of Tinaya Alexander shows, talented players who aren’t getting consistent playing time might pursue opportunities elsewhere. Giving playing time now could increase the confidence that there’s a future with the Spirit.
On the other hand, the lack of victories this season can’t have been good for player morale or for helping the team to build on its existing fan base. Winning games is fun, meaning it’s safer for the Spirit to focus on extending their small, though important for morale, winning streak. Montoya seemed to prefer this option in his press conference after the previous game, saying the team would focus on playing its best each week.
Tonight, fans should expect a familiar starting line-up from Washington, but with every Spirit starter playing at least 87-minutes four days ago, plus another game on the road this weekend, don’t be surprised to see chunks of minutes for less-familiar faces. ✍️ -Annie Elliott
When and where
Location: Banc of California Stadium (Los Angeles, CA)
Kickoff time: Wednesday, 10:30pm ET
Referee: Elton Garcia
Available TV: CBS Sports Network
Available streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.) & Twitch (int’l)
Who all gon’ be there
Angel City team news: OUT - Christen Press (SEI-right knee), Katie Cousins (right knee), Sarah Gorden (right knee), Stefany Ferrer Van Ginkel (left ankle), Sydney Leroux (right ankle); QUESTIONABLE - None
Spirit team news: OUT - Tori Huster (SEI - left lower leg), Emily Sonnett (SEI - foot); Kelley O’Hara (hip); Amber Brooks (suspension); QUESTIONABLE - Andi Sullivan (knee)