The Washington Spirit will return to the site of their first victory in the inaugural NWSL season, facing Seattle Reign FC in the league’s debut nationally televised match on FOX Soccer (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET).
The Spirit (1-9-4, 7 points) have been much improved on the field in three games under new head coach Mark Parsons, who remains in search of his first victory in charge. But things haven’t gone well for Washington since a 4-2 victory at Moda Health Pitch at Starfire Stadium on May 16. The Spirit are winless in their last eight matches with one goal scored, a penalty kick by Diana Matheson in a 1-1 draw with FC Kansas City on July 3.
The Reign (3-9-3, 12 points) are one place ahead of the Spirit at the bottom of the NWSL standings but have created some space with a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2), including a 3-2 win over Western New York on Thursday. Their improved stretch has come with the return of U.S. national team midfielder Megan Rapinoe following the completion of her European season with Olympique Lyonnais in France and the return of U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo from wrist surgery.
The match will be the first in Seattle for forward Lindsay Taylor since she switched coasts, acquired by the Spirit along with a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2014 NWSL College Draft in exchange for the Spirit’s 2014 second-round pick. Taylor scored the opening goal in the teams’ meeting on May 16 before the Spirit got goals from Matheson, Ali Krieger, Tiffany McCarty and Tori Huster.
Matheson has been a crucial contributor for Washington, with her five goals tied with four other players for fifth in the league. The Canadian National Team midfielder’s two assists are also tied with captain Lori Lindsey for the team lead. Jessica Fishlock leads Seattle with four goals.
Lindsey has had an impressive season of her own, as the only Spirit player to start all 14 matches. The 33-year-old midfielder will look to continue her streak against the Reign.
Ashlyn Harris has been solid in net for Washington, her 54 saves in 12 starts good for third in NWSL. Solo has been busy since returning to the Reign, racking up 47 saves in seven starts.
Pohlers has started the Spirit’s last five matches up top since joining the team on loan from German club VfL Wolfsburg. Pressley, a physical defender, has played every minute of the team’s last six matches since joining the Spirit from Russian club Ryazan VDV.
The Spirit and Reign will meet for the third and final team during the regular season at Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex on August 10 at 7 p.m. ET in a match that will also be broadcast on FOX Soccer.