The Washington Spirit face the Chicago Red Stars in what will be the final regular-season game for both sides. The Spirit can secure the NWSL Shield - given to the top team in the regular season - with a win tonight. Chicago has clinched a playoff berth as well but both teams are fighting for a certain playoff seed. A Red Stars win, in fact, would make it likely that these teams would square off again next week. While the Spirit are a point ahead of the Portland Thorns, the Thorns own the tiebreaker against Washington so the the Spirit will need to either win or pick up more points than Portland (who play Sky Blue tomorrow) to win the NWSL Shield.
Spirit attacker Estefania Banini was sidelined for a month following an arthroscopic knee surgery but the Argentine has recovered quickly. She’s listed as probable for tonight’s match. Canadian center back Shelina Zadorsky didn’t start in the Spirit’s last game after she sustained a right ankle sprain, but the 2016 bronze medalist is also listed as probable.
In the Spirit’s last two games, head coach Jim Gabarra rotated his starters for both games but a win tonight is crucial to winning the NWSL Shield since Portland has the easier match-up. The Spirit last faced Chicago in July with national team players missing for both teams. Washington won 2-0 at home, with goals from Banini and Katie Stengel. Despite the shutout, the Red Stars posed a significant challenge to the Spirit’s backline, particularly defending on the flanks.
Location: Toyota Park (Bridgeview, IL)
Kick-off time: 8:00pm Eastern.
Available TV: None
Available streaming: NWSL Soccer, free and non-geoblocked
Treat this as the gamethread for tonight's match.