It’s crunch time for the Washington Spirit, who host Utah Royals FC tonight at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Washington may have a game in hand on Royals FC, but at the moment they trail Utah by 6 points for the final NWSL postseason berth. A win keeps the Spirit right in the thick of the playoff race, but a loss would pretty much put them into a situation where they can’t afford to drop any more points this season.
The form guide points to this being a tough one for the Spirit. Utah has won three straight and are arguably the hottest team in the league. Washington, meanwhile, has lost three straight and has just one win in nine. However, the game before their current slump started? A 2-0 win, at the Plex, over Utah. Maybe tonight’s the night things turn around.
Location: Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex (Boyds, MD)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (433) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Paige Nielsen, Sam Staab, Dorian Bailey; Andi Sullivan, Elise Kellond-Knight, Jordan DiBiasi; Cheyna Matthews, Ashley Hatch, Chloe Logarzo
Bench: Shae Yanez, Amy Harrison, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Bayley Feist, Cali Farquharson, Crystal Thomas, Arielle Ship
Richie Burke will have some tired legs to deal with after playing in Portland on turf on Saturday, and he’ll probably be without Rose Lavelle (who is listed as doubtful). It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bailey rotate in somewhere, and with Matthews off the injury report, we can expect her to be back in the starting lineup.
With another game on the weekend, we could see even more rotation. Harrison, Feist, and Farquharson could be in line for starts as well.
Projected Utah starting 11: (4312) - Nicole Barnhart; Katie Bowen, Rachel Corsie, Becky Sauerbrunn, Mallory Weber; Lo’eau LaBonta, Desiree Scott, Vero Boquete; Gunnhildur Jonsdottir; Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez
Judging from past games, Laura Harvey isn’t going to rotate very much for this one. This is just about the lineup that has won three straight for Royals FC, though it seems safe to suspect that Jonsdottir might rotate in for Katie Stengel underneath the forwards. However, players like Sydney Miramontez and Michelle Maemone could rotate in for the fullbacks.
Of course, it’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with Utah, as two very different injury reports came out in a roughly nine-hour span:
These injuries are from the NWSL-provided game notes. The injury report, which only came out today, is markedly different. I don't know which one to believe, but the latter lists Moros, Laddish, & O'Hara as out, & does not change Pugh from hip to thigh. https://t.co/9J6gCgl9s6— Jason Anderson (@chestrockwell14) August 21, 2019
So if Kelley O’Hara ends up being in the starting eleven, don’t be surprised.
Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
Available streaming: Monumental Sports Network, Yahoo (domestic), NWSLsoccer.com (international...unless last week’s low-detail announcement about ESPN has changed things). That Yahoo link should take you right to the correct page.
What do we have to say about it?: Later this afternoon, we’ll have a question exchange with RSL Soapbox.
What are you drinking?: Because the schedules were made specifically to spite me, I will be 30 or so miles south, drinking water at D.C. United’s game.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.