The Washington Spirit didn’t start the NWSL Fall Series off like they had hoped, struggling for spells to convert possession into chances, and just as they thought they’d secured a late draw, they conceded a stoppage time goal. Today against the Chicago Red Stars, they face a different challenge from the potent attack Sky Blue FC could call on. The Red Stars are missing some key pieces at both ends of the field, but their depth and a long-standing team culture means they’re always a tough opponent.
Key player: Kumi Yokoyama
Maybe the real key here is the connections other players have with Yokoyama, who had some really good ideas for the Spirit that were sometimes not understood by her teammates last week, and others that just didn’t quite work out. Yokoyama herself had a couple looks at goal, not for the first time.
Against a Chicago team that is always committed and well-drilled defensively, and with numerous players missing for Washington, and it sounds like the Spirit will be playing at a slower tempo today, so individual creativity is going to probably play more of a factor. The Red Stars not likely to give anything away with a defensive breakdown, so Yokoyama’s inventive play is going to be crucial to open things up and create goals.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 12:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (433) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Dorian Bailey, Paige Nielsen, Sam Staab, Natalie Jacobs; Bayley Feist, Jaye Boissiere, Meggie Dougherty Howard; Kumi Yokoyama, Averie Collins, Ashley Sanchez
Bench: Devon Kerr, Katie Lund, Brooke Hendrix, Jenna Hellstrom, Jessie Scarpa, Meghan McCool, Katie McClure, Crystal Thomas, Ashley Hatch
Let’s start with the official injury report:
#WASvCHI injury report— Jason Anderson (@JasonDCsoccer) September 11, 2020
OUT: DiBiasi (hip), Sullivan (meniscus), Huster (ankle), McGrady (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: Hatch (ankle)
OUT: Wright (hip), Gorden, Short (hip), Davidson, Johnson (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Gautrat (knee)#NWSL #CatchTheSpirit #NWSLFallSeries
On top of those four absences, which were all carried over from last week, Hatch is now questionable, which is why we’re expecting Collins to start up front (though it could be Thomas instead). Richie Burke said on Thursday that “a couple” new players were out, so expect at least one more absentee that wasn’t added to the injury report.
Elsewhere, this may be the chance to give Boissiere a start as the no. 6, which would allow Bailey to play one of the fullback positions (with Dougherty Howard moving up into more of a box-to-box role). But given that Burke said that they need to both look out for players fitness-wise and learn more about the rest of the squad, don’t be surprised if there are more (and earlier) subs.
Projected Chicago starting 11: (4231) - Alyssa Naeher; Bianca St. Georges, Zoe Morse, Hannah Davison, Camryn Biegalski; Danny Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo; Sarah Luebbert, Savannah McCaskill, Zoey Goralski; Kealia Watt
Between loans, players opting out, and injuries, Rory Dames has 15 players to call on today. Julie Ertz and Yuki Nagasato are the biggest names that won’t be at Segra Field today that aren’t on the injury report above, and all of that means that it’s tough to be sure of what Chicago’s lineup will look like. This is a guess, but Dames could well give short-term signings like Aerial Chavarin and Dani Rhodes their chance from the start.
One other option to watch is Morgan Gautrat, who has been training but was listed as questionable. If she can play, we may see more of a 433, with Goralski possibly moving into a fullback role.
Referee: As of the time this was written, PRO had not announced a referee.
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Twitch. Literally everywhere on earth, that’s the place to see this game.
What do we have to say about it?: A whole lot, but not in written form. Here’s the latest episode of Plex Weather:
Do you like podcasts? Well good, because this is one, but really it's two! @thrace joins the show to talk about the Spirit's loss to Sky Blue, & then @SouthsideTrapod comes on to talk about #CatchTheSpirit's next opponent, the Chicago Red Stars https://t.co/zWcYEhv8sa— Plex Weather (@PlexWeather) September 11, 2020
What are you drinking?: Water from a sealed bottle at the stadium, and a coffee on my way there. Given the forecast, we might be talking about hot coffee, as it might not get into the 70s until this game kicks off.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.