The Washington Spirit are looking to continue their road success tonight as they take on Kansas City NWSL. This is the Spirit’s fifth official road game, but in reality tonight will make six away from home out of seven to start the regular season. So far, they’ve picked up eight points (2W-2D-1L), potentially setting them up for a run up the table if they can take advantage of a three-game stretch at home to start next month.
To do that, though, they’ll have to get the better of a hard-working KC side that has struggled to turn that into results. The as-yet-unnamed team has just two draws from seven games so far, but as of now at least they’re still showing plenty of effort, and with new attacking players like Jessica Silva coming in, their desperation at the moment makes them a tricky opponent.
Key player: Andi Sullivan
You can read the standings, and it’s hard not to conclude that Kansas City is just a hapless team. However, when you watch them play, there are recurring themes: they stay compact and organized, they’re willing to press (especially at the narrow confines of their home field), and they tend to come up just short rather than being comprehensively outplayed every game.
The Spirit will need to play through that pressure and move KC out of their shape, which requires setting a good tempo and occasionally opening the game up with some more vertical passing. That means anyone in a defensive position is going to have to be sharp on the ball, but no one’s going to have more of a responsibility on that front than Sullivan.
Location: Legends Field (Kansas City, KS)
Kickoff time: 8:30pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (433) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Tori Huster, Emily Sonnett, Sam Staab, Kelley O’Hara; Andi Sullivan, Ashley Sanchez, Dorian Bailey; Trinity Rodman, Tara McKeown, Kumi Yokoyama
Bench: Devon Kerr, Paige Nielsen, Tegan McGrady, Camryn Biegalski, Julia Roddar, Natalie Jacobs, Anna Heilferty, Mariana Speckmaier, Ashley Hatch
We start, as usual, with the injury report:
#KCvWAS injury report:— Jason Anderson (@JasonDCsoccer) June 26, 2021
Out: Ball (thigh), Ship (leg), Matheson (foot), Listro (leg), Miramontez (foot)
International: Scott (Canada), Logarzo (Australia)
Out: Feist (ACL), Collins (ACL), DiBiasi (hip)
International: Takarada (Japan)#NWSL #SpiritFam
The good news here is that Hatch, Sonnett, and Nielsen are both entirely off the report. I haven’t listed Hatch as a starter because, per Richie Burke Thursday, they were still going to have to get the all-clear from doctors after a clash of heads left her reporting some dizziness. However, if she’s cleared, she’ll probably start, with McKeown to the left and Yokoyama available off the bench.
Nielsen is pushing hard to get herself on the field, though it sounds like all parties agree that 90 minutes isn’t part of the plan just yet. Sonnett appears to be fine after what the team called a “minor” calf issue against Chicago, which probably means she’s good to start, but it’s a situation to watch. New signing Karina Rodriguez could be in line for a spot in the gameday squad too, particularly if there’s worry about Sonnett picking up a knock in her last game before heading off for the USWNT’s Olympic preparations.
Projected Kansas City starting 11: (4141) - Abby Smith; Katie Bowen, Taylor Leach, Rachel Corsie, Kristen Edmonds; Gaby Vincent; Mariana Larroquette, Lo’eau LaBonta, Victoria Pickett, Jessica Silva; Amy Rodriguez
Huw Williams got a little more attacking bite by flipping his midfield triangle, and with KC having scored just three times all season, that’s probably the area of emphasis for him. As such, the 4231 they’ve played most of the year will probably shape up as a 4141 or even a 433 tonight.
Given their results and the fact that this is KC’s third game in six days, the prospect of rotation seems high. Michelle Maemone could start at right back, while Jordyn Listro or Maddie Nolf could get the nod in central midfield. Larroquette and Silva both played most of their 3-1 loss to Orlando Wednesday after splitting last Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Portland, and could end up being rested in favor of Darian Jenkins or Mallory Weber. Larroquette could play as the center forward too, since Rodriguez played the full 90 in both games this week.
Referee: Laura Rodriguez
Available TV: None
Available streaming: Twitch (USA and international)
What are you drinking?: Judging by what seltzers are cold in my fridge, it’s looking highly likely that we’re talking grapefruit seltzer rather than lemon seltzer.
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