The Washington Spirit return from the international break to face the Chicago Red Stars on the road today. Chicago sits in 2nd place and has won three straight games, making them a very tough opponent for the 9th place Spirit. Chicago started the season off poorly - losing two of their first three games - but since then has dominated the league and in late May posted back to back wins against the first place North Carolina Courage.
Key player: Stephanie Labbe
The Spirit have played two matches this so far this year against top teams: a 1-0 loss to North Carolina and a 6-2 defeat against Seattle. This afternoon will probably be closer to the 1-0 loss against the Courage. That game wasn’t a blowout but the Courage dominated the Spirit. Without a stellar performance from Labbe, the score would have been significantly higher.
Labbe has faced an absurdly high number of shots this season and though the Spirit’s defense has been poor, it would be much worse without her. Against Christen Press and Sofia Huerta, a tight defense will be vital for the Spirit. Labbe’s ability to organize will be even more important than usual since the Spirit often struggle against fast attackers.
Location: Toyota Park (Chicago, Illinois)
Kickoff time: 3:50pm Eastern (but the pre-game show will begin at 3:30pm)
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4-3-3) - Stephanie Labbe; Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Shelina Zadorsky, Alyssa Kleiner; Havana Solaun, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Kristie Mewis; Cheyna Williams, Katie Stengel, Arielle Ship
Bench: Didi Haracic, Kassey Kallman, Cameron Castleberry, Caprice Dydasco, Line Sigvardsen Jensen, Lindsay Agnew, Francisca Ordega
Mallory Pugh is out due to a minor ankle injury sustained in the warm-up for the USWNT’s game against Norway, while Tori Huster remains out with a quad strain. Caprice Dydasco is cleared to play for the first time this season after recovering from the torn ACL she suffered in last year’s NWSL championship game.
Projected Chicago starting 11: (4-3-1-2) - Alyssa Naeher; Arin Gilliland, Katie Naughton, Samantha Johnson, Casey Short; Alyssa Mautz, Julie Ertz, Danielle Colaprico; Vanessa DiBernardo; Sofia Huerta, Christen Press
Referee: Marie-Soleil Beaudoin
Available TV: Lifetime
Available streaming: MyLifetime.com and the MyLifetime app
What are you drinking?: Water!
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