Mallory Pugh is expected to make her debut tonight for the Washington Spirit as the team faces FC Kansas City in the first of a home and away series. Mal Pugh’s signing was announced last Saturday and the 19-year-old will likely make her first NWSL appearance tonight. Pugh starting seems unlikely but the teenager will probably enter sometime in the second half.
Key player: Meggie Dougherty Howard
With Tori Huster out tonight due to a right quad strain, Meggie Dougherty Howard will be essential in tonight’s match. Spirit midfielder Kristie Mewis is off the disabled list so the Spirit will likely start Mewis, Dougherty Howard, and Line Sigvardsen Jensen in the midfield. In her start against Sky Blue FC, Dougherty Howard was key to the Spirit midfield and was good at linking up with Francisca Ordega.
After last week’s 6-2 loss to the Seattle Reign, the Spirit’s backline needs to improve tonight. Most of the season, the backline has been one of the stronger components; last game’s debacle seems to be the result of switching to a three-back against the Reign, who are poised to exploit that system. Nonetheless, Dougherty Howard will be integral to a strong performance from the backline and strengthening the Spirit’s attack, which has been the main issue most of this season.
Location: Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, Maryland)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4-3-3) - Stephanie Labbe; Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Shelina Zadorsky, Kassey Kallman; Meggie Dougherty Howard, Line Sigvardsen Jensen, Kristie Mewis; Cheyna Williams, Francisca Ordega, Havana Solaun
Bench: Didi Haracic, Alyssa Kleiner, Cameron Castleberry, Mallory Pugh, Arielle Ship, Katie Stengel
To go along with Huster, Lindsay Agnew is out due to a kidney infection. Katie Stengel is now listed as probable after being out due to a bone bruise.
Projected FC Kansas City starting 11: (4-3-3) - Nicole Barnhart; Brittany Taylor, Becky Sauerbrunn, Yael Averbuch, Christina Gibbons; Lo’eau Labonta, Becca Moros, Alexa Newfield; Shea Groom, Sydney Leroux, Brittany Ratcliffe
Shea Groom has a broken rib but is listed as probable for tonight’s match.
Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
Available TV: None
Available streaming: For all domestic and international viewers, the game will be streamed on the NWSL website and the NWSL app in addition to Go90. Go90 has had technical issues lately, which resulted in the NWSL allowing US fans to watch the games on the league site and app for the next few weeks.
What are you drinking?: Jason (traffic willing) and I will be in the press box so water.
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