After what seems like an eternity of waiting, the Washington Spirit finally play in the NWSL Championship, taking on the Western New York Flash at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Spirit haven’t taken the field since September 30th, when Francisca Ordega fired the Spirit into the final with an extra time goal against the Chicago Red Stars.
A win today would give the Spirit their first trophy in the four years of the team’s existence. During the NWSL regular season, it looked like the Spirit might take home the shield for the most points during the regular season. But with just one win in their final four games, the Portland Thorns swooped in to take the top spot, denying the Spirit their first piece of silverware. Undeterred, hosting a playoff game for the first time in team history, the Spirit beat the Red Stars in the semi-final playoff game, avenging the loss suffered in the final game of the regular season.
The Spirit and Flash faced off twice in the regular season, with the Spirit getting the better of their east coast rivals. Diana Matheson scored twice and Katie Stengel added the capper as the Spirit coasted to a 3-0 victory against New York back in April. In the return leg back in the beginning of September, Stengel fired the Spirit ahead in the second half, but Samantha Mewis equalized late in a 1-1 draw.
For today’s final, neither team has any injury concerns, other than the players that were already out due to season-ending injuries. That’s Cali Farquharson and Laura del Rio for the Spirit, and Lianne Sanderson for the Flash.
Projected lineups: Jason has you covered on both sides today! There’s a couple of questions on the Spirit side, as Jim Gabarra has some choices to make for his center back duo today. If you’re unfamiliar with the Spirit, that’s a must-read.
Unsurprisingly, Jason spilled just as much ink projecting Western New York’s lineup, giving you a look at how the Flash will likely come out today.
Game previews: We have plenty for you to consume before kickoff today. First, check out Caitlin’s preview of today’s game. It has all the pertinent information for today’s game, including the time and where to catch it on TV or on your laptop or mobile device. Secondly, there is an episode of Filibuster dedicated to this game, so make sure to listen to that before 5 pm. And if you’re late arriving to this whole Spirit party, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
What are you drinking: My parents are hosting a big Oktoberfest Party this weekend (yes, Oktoberfest ended last week), so I’m preparing for that with Hofbrau’s Oktoberfest Beer.
Prediction: These teams had plenty of drama last week to get to this point, so I expect nothing different today. I think the Spirit take it in regulation, with Crystal Dunn netting a late, late winner for a 2-1 victory.
As always, this is your place for pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter.