Coming off a strong performance in Portland last weekend that netted the Washington Spirit one point, the Spirit face another tough test tonight against the Chicago Red Stars. Despite missing Sam Kerr, Julie Ertz, Vanessa DiBernardo, and Casey Short, the Red Stars sit in second place with seven points from five games. Ertz and Kerr are now available for tonight’s game and will be a tremendous addition to an already strong Red Stars side.
Key player: Aubrey Bledsoe
Defensively this season hasn’t been as good for the Spirit as it has been on the other end. Washington’s backline has a rough assignment tonight with Kerr returning, and Bledsoe will likely be called on throughout the night. Washington is capable of scoring goals and Estefania Banini’s return should help that mission but Bledsoe and the backline need to able to, if not mute, then at least manage a potent Chicago attack.
Last week at Portland, Bledsoe made 12 saves including a crucial 87th minute penalty kick stop. Bledsoe currently leads the league in saves (26), but the Spirit’s high number of shots conceded is a real concern. Bledsoe has her shining moments but there have still been slip-ups like the ones against North Carolina two weeks ago that can’t occur tonight if the Spirit are going to come away with three points.
Location: Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, Maryland)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4-3-3) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Tori Huster, Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Francisca Ordega
Bench: DiDi Haracic, Rebecca Quinn, Joanna Lohman, Havana Solaun, Estefania Banini, Yanara Aedo, Tiffany Weimer
Banini and Yanara Aedo are back from Copa America Femenina. Banini might get the nod instead of Ordega, but Jim Gabarra could also give his goalscorer from last week another start. Rebecca Quinn was a late upgrade on the injury report, moved up to questionable with a TFL strain.
Projected Chicago starting 11: (4-3-3) - Alyssa Naeher; Taylor Comeau, Katie Naughton, Sarah Gorden, Arin Gilliland; Sofia Huerta, Julie Ertz, Danielle Colaprico; Alyssa Mautz, Sam Kerr, Yuki Nagasato
Short, DiBernardo, and Rosie White are on the 45-day disabled list, while Stephanie McCaffrey is out due to illness.
Referee: Daniel Gutierrez
Available TV: None
What are you drinking?: In a shocking development, water.
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