After playing the North Carolina Courage in a preseason friendly last month, the Washington Spirit face one of the NWSL’s best teams again this evening in the Spirit’s third game of the season. At Richmond’s City Stadium, the Spirit fell 3-0 to the Courage, but that’s not necessarily a great predictor of how tonight’s game will end up.
Key player: Taylor Smith
One of the reasons that the last meeting isn’t the greatest predictor is that the Spirit had little time together as a full team before that game. The Courage, by contrast, have had most of their team together for at least a year, and had more preseason games under their belt. Smith is one of the Washington players that got back from international duty just days before the match. A key question for tonight is how much the Spirit have gelled in the past month or so.
Another reason that Smith will be important is that former Spirit star Crystal Dunn has been starting wide left for NC. Washington’s back four looked better in the most recent game than it did against Seattle or in preseason, but containing Dunn will be a challenging test.
Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland Soccerplex (Boyds, MD)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4-3-3) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Meggie Dougherty Howard, Andi Sullivan, Joanna Lohman; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega
Bench: Kelsey Wys, Morgan Proffitt, Tiffany Huster, Tiffany Weimer, Havana Solaun, Mallory Eubanks, Cali Farquharson
Rebecca Quinn is out due to a right TFL (read: hip) muscle strain. She exited the game against Orlando early due to injury. She joins Rose Lavelle (hamstring), Arielle Ship (ACL recovery), and Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy) on the injured list. Estefania Banini and Yanara Aedo are away with their national teams for the Copa America Femenina. Farquharson is questionable, and if she isn’t cleared to play, the Spirit will have just six subs available.
Projected Courage starting 11: (4-3-3) - Sabrina D’Angelo; Merritt Matthias, Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg, Jaelene Hinkle; Kristen Hamilton, McCall Zerboni, Denise O’Sullivan; Lynn Williams, Jessica McDonald, Crystal Dunn
Brazilian international Debinha is also at Copa America Femenina, while Samantha Mewis is questionable due to a knee issue. Makenzy Doniak (ACL), Yuri Kawamura (ACL), Liz Eddy (hamstring), and Julie King (ankle) are all out due to injuries.
Referee: Jasmine Peralta
Available TV: None
What are you drinking?: Water!
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