The Washington Spirit are looking to increase their lead at the top of the NWSL table as they host a potentially tricky opponent in the Houston Dash tonight. While the Dash are winless in their last 3 games, they’re 2W-1D-0L this year away from home; if they could get the job done in Houston, they’d be battling for the top spot in the standings. With the Dash sporting an experienced, talented midfield and a rugged mindset all over the field, they could be a real problem if the Spirit are even just the tiniest bit off of their best form.
It’s also a special night in multiple ways for the Spirit off the field. The club is honoring retired midfielder Joanna Lohman with a jersey retirement ceremony at halftime, and is holding their first-ever official Pride Night.
Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, MD)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4312) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Carlin Hudson, Sam Staab, Megan Crosson; Andi Sullivan, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Dorian Bailey; Jordan DiBiasi; Ashley Hatch, Arielle Ship
Bench: Shae Yanez, McKenzie Berryhill, Grace Cutler, Bayley Feist, Cali Farquharson, Crystal Thomas, Tiffany McCarty
After last week’s formation change — Richie Burke told media in Tacoma that he saw it as a 42211 — look for a return to the more regular look. However, there is major news: Paige Nielsen is out for this game, leaving a question mark at center back. Hudson has been getting more playing time of late, but Berryhill and Huster could play there too. No matter who steps in, they’ve got big shoes to fill.
Elsewhere, Tegan McGrady is out as well, leaving the Spirit pretty thin at the back. That also means the 18 virtually picks itself; the only question is whether Yanez or Sammy Jo Prudhomme is the back-up goalkeeper.
Projected Houston starting 11: (4231) - Jane Campbell; Ari Romero, Ally Prisock, Amber Brooks, Satara Murray; Haley Hanson, Christine Nairn; Sofia Huerta, Kristie Mewis, Kealia Ohai; Cece Kizer
James Clarkson has settled into a rigid 4231 set-up, and lately his lineup has been pretty settled. Mewis and Nairn could switch spots (they did so a couple of games ago), but with 7 players still away on international duty and striker Veronica Latsko out with a knee injury, this is pretty straightforward. That said, Kyah Simon is questionable after missing some time, and could possibly end up getting the nod over Kizer up top.
Referee: Lorant Varga
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
Available streaming: Monumental Sports Network, Yahoo (domestic), NWSLsoccer.com (international). That Yahoo link will take you right to the stream.
What are you drinking?: I’ll be in the press box knocking back a couple of bottles of water.
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