The Washington Spirit turned some heads last week, but things only get more difficult today as they take on the Chicago Red Stars on the road. Chicago’s attack has produced 13 goals in 6 games, and though they will be without Sam Kerr, they still have a starting lineup available today that could compete even when the World Cup ends and all the national team players return. If the Spirit are going to extend their winning streak, they’re going to have to continue improving as a team, because “at Red Stars” is about as tough an assignment as you can get in the NWSL.
Location: SeatGeek Stadium (Bridgeview, IL)
Kickoff time: 6:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4312) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Dorian Bailey, Paige Nielsen, Sam Staab, Tegan McGrady; Meggie Dougherty Howard, Andi Sullivan, Tori Huster; Jordan DiBiasi; Ashley Hatch, Cali Farquharson
Bench: Shae Yanez, McKenzie Berryhill, Carlin Hudson, Megan Crosson, Bayley Feist, Crystal Thomas, Arielle Ship
All of the Spirit’s potential World Cup players are now gone, and with Tiffany McCarty listed as out for this game, the Spirit have exactly 18 players available. Farquharson appears to be the replacement for Cheyna Matthews up top, but she has also played a bit of midfield this season. The fit-again McGrady should step in for Amy Harrison, while Chloe Logarzo’s spot might be more complicated. Our guess? Huster moves up into the midfield from right back, and Bailey comes into the lineup. It could just be Bailey going right into Logarzo’s spot, though, or something else (Farquharson in midfield, Ship or Crosson up top?).
One last thing: Sullivan is listed as questionable, though she did make the trip out to Chicago. If she’s not fit to start, we may see Berryhill (who played a deep midfield role last week off the bench) starting. Richie Burke could also shift into a 4231, with Huster and Dougherty Howard underneath DiBiasi, and Farquharson and Crosson the likely wingers.
Projected Red Stars starting 11: (4231) - Emily Boyd; Casey Short, Katie Naughton, Sarah Gorden, Arin Wright; Nikki Stanton, Danielle Colaprico; Yuki Nagasato, Vanessa DiBernardo, Michele Vasconcelos; Katie Johnson
This would be a pretty solid team at any time, but it’s especially impressive that Rory Dames has this strong of a lineup after losing so many to World Cup call-ups. Johnson won’t play the striker role exactly like Sam Kerr (who can?), but she’s a proven goalscorer who will bring some speed up top. The real danger is Nagasato, who has been as good as any player in NWSL this season, and can beat you in a lot of different ways. She’s smart, strong, and technical.
In the back, Short and Wright could well switch sides. Generally, Dames positions Short on the side he expects more of a threat from, but since the Spirit don’t play with wingers right now, he may well end up with Short back on her preferred left side.
Referee: Lukasz Szpala
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
What are you drinking?: I said I was going to drink a Paloma during yesterday’s D.C. United game, but I didn’t have time to make it. So, today: Paloma.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.