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Photo: Tony Quinn/ISI Photos
BOYDS, Md (May 26, 2016)- The Washington Spirit (4-1-1, 13 points) heads southwest this Friday to BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas for a rematch against the Houston Dash (2-3-1, 7 points). The Spirit and Chicago Red Stars currently have the most points in the National Women’s Soccer League standings with 13, but the Spirit is in first place due to goal differential.
Game to be streamed live on YouTube beginning 8:30 pm ET: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muIF02xCPjA
When the Spirit played the Dash at home two weeks ago, Joanna Lohman scored a headed goal to secure the 1-0 victory. In the 38th minute of the game, defender Ali Krieger dribbled up the right flank and sent a long ball toward midfielder Christine Nairn. Nairn sent a cross into the box to the waiting head of Lohman, who placed the ball into the back of the net. Lohman has surprised some by becoming one of the league’s biggest aerial threats this season.
The Spirit will be looking to rebound from its first loss of the season to Portland Thorns FC last weekend. “We need to build off our second half performance in Portland in order to compete with the Dash,” said Spirit general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “This will be an opportunity for players to step in and fill the roles that Dunn and Krieger have successfully filled so far.”
With forward Crystal Dunn away at camp for the US National Team, this match will allow for a new dynamic on the offensive line. The Spirit will look to forwards such as Diana Matheson, Katie Stengel, and Cali Farquharson to provide offensive power. Lohman has also proven to be an goal-scoring force from the midfield, as she is currently in a tie for first place with five other players, including her teammate Matheson, in most goals scored this season in the NWSL with three.
The Spirit’s defensive line will look to remain strong despite the departure of Krieger to national team camp. Krieger, Shelina Zadorsky, and Megan Oyster, along with goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé, have played every minute of the season thus far. The absence of Krieger opens up an opportunity for a player such as Caprice Dydasco or Whitney Church to get more playing time. Labbé is currently tied with Alyssa Naeher of the Chicago Red Stars for first place in clean sheets this season with four.
Dunn and Krieger’s absence also paves the way for two Amateur Players to receive Amateur Player call-ups to travel to Houston with the team. Alli Murphy, a midfielder out of Texas Tech University, was the Spirit’s no. 20 pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. Haley Rosen, a forward out of Stanford University, joined the Spirit in preseason camp. Both Murphy and Rosen currently play for the Washington Spirit Reserves in the WPSL.
Despite Dash midfielders Morgan Brian and Carli Lloyd not being available due to national team camp and injury respectively, several prominent players remain on the roster for the Dash. Two NWSL newcomers from the Dash have earned NWSL Player of the Week honors – Chioma Ubogagu (week 4) and Rachel Daly (week 1). Daly’s efforts have been rewarded with a call up to the English National Team for upcoming European qualifying matches.
After a break next week, the Spirit concludes its longest road stretch of the season in Boston on Friday, June 10th before returning to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, June 18th to take on Orlando Pride. The Orlando game is already the hottest match up of the year and will likely be a sellout. Fans can be part of the NWSL soccer experience at perfectly manicured natural grass Maureen Hendricks Field by calling 301-337-8579 or visiting our website.