Bridgeview, Ill. (04/28/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday night in both sides’ fifth match of the 2023 regular season. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois and will broadcast on Paramount+ for fans across the United States and on NBC Sports Washington for viewers in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. International viewers can stream the match on NWSLSoccer.com as well.
Coming off the team’s scoreless draw last weekend, the Spirit is looking to leave Chicago with three points. Last week’s match versus Houston was the Spirit’s 14th scoreless draw since 2016 out of 140 regular season matches played. The result tied Houston with OL Reign for the most scoreless draws (3) against the Spirit since 2016.
The Spirit is unbeaten in four of its last five matches immediately following a scoreless draw. However, the Spirit has only one victory in the last eight regular season road matches against Chicago – a 2-0 victory in 2019 that saw Ashley Hatch score.
Hatch is one of six players in the NWSL this season to score at least three goals, trailing only 2022 NWSL MVP Sophia Smith. She has accounted for – and converted – each of the Spirit’s three big scoring chances this season, making the Spirit the only team with a 100% big chance conversion rate. Her 12 shots and seven shots on goal are both tied for third in the league.
Unbeaten through four games this regular season, the Spirit has conceded only three goals. This is the second consecutive season the Spirit has allowed three goals through four games, allowing fewer in its first four games only once before – 2016, when the team allowed only one goal.
Part of the reason for the Spirit’s success has been the strength of the backline, including keeper Aubrey Kingsbury. She has logged clean sheets in two of the four matches this regular season, tied for most in the NWSL. Last game, Kingsbury made five saves, her most saves while keeping a clean sheet since the Spirit’s last meeting with Chicago.
Sam Staab and Andi Sullivan are the Spirit’s only field players to have played every minute of the regular season so far. With a start in tomorrow’s match, Staab will break teammate Amber Brooks’ NWSL record of 72 consecutive regular season starts.
Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit will return home to face San Diego Waves FC at Audi Field on Sunday, May 6th at 1 p.m. EDT. Single match tickets are available now.
The Chicago Red Stars sit ninth on the NWSL table with a 1-3-0 record (three points). Despite scoring the second most goals in the league (9), the Red Stars have surrendered the most of any team (12). This matches the most goals conceded through four games in NWSL history, matching the record set by the Boston Breakers in 2015. In the team’s 5-2 loss to OL Reign last week, the Red Stars gave up braces to both Jess Fishlock and Bethany Balcer.
However, the most troubling development in Chicago this season was a knee injury to Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson. The USWNT striker tore her patella tendon while playing in an international friendly against Ireland earlier this month.
Several players have stepped up in Swanson’s absence, including rookie Ally Schlegel who scored in her NWSL debut during the team’s 5-2 loss last week. She is the second rookie to score in their NWSL debut – Angel City FC’s Alyssa Thompson also did so to start the season. Six different players have scored for Chicago this season, tied for the most goal scorers on one team (excluding own goals) with Portland Thorns FC.
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who ranks 12th all-time in minutes played (12,994) and is a mainstay on the USWNT, is experiencing an unusually difficult season statistically – her five saves and 29.41% save percentage are both NWSL lows.
It will have been 325 days since the last match between the Red Stars and the Spirit. The last match between the two sides resulted in a 0-0 draw in Chicago, the only scoreless draw in the entire series history.
Next up, Chicago will play the Houston Dash as a part of the group stage of the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup on Wednesday, May 3 at 8 p.m. EDT.
- While the Spirit leads the all-time series 11-10-7, the Red Stars are unbeaten in its last five home matches against the Spirit. The Spirit is 2-0-0 in neutral site matches against Chicago, including a 2-1 victory in the 2021 NWSL Championship.
- Spirit defender Camryn Biegalski will be in familiar territory this weekend as SeatGeek Stadium is roughly 15 miles southeast of her hometown of Lombard, Illinois. Biegalski also spent her first professional season with the Red Stars in 2020.
- Spirit defender Tara McKeown ranks second in the NWSL with 30 clearances, trailing only Red Stars and USWNT defender Tierna Davidson (34).
- When the Red Stars travel to DC in September, the team will play its first match at Audi Field. Chicago is the only active NWSL franchise that has not played a match at Audi Field.
- One of the NWSL’s original eight teams, the Chicago Red Stars rank among the top three in NWSL history in the following categories: wins (3rd with 89), goals scored (3rd with 302) and shutouts (2nd with 64).
- Former Spirit players meet again:
- Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson started her career with the Spirit in 2017 and played with the team through the 2019 season.
- Former college teammates meet again:
- Spirit midfielder Tori Huster played with Red Stars defender Casey Krueger at Florida State (2008-11).
- Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan and forward Civana Kuhlmann played with Red Stars defender Tierna Davidson at Stanford from 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.
- Spirit midfielder Riley Tanner played with Red Stars defender Tatum Milazzo at South Carolina in 2018.
- Spirit defender Tara McKeown played with Red Stars forward Penelope Hocking at Southern California from 2018-21.
- Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Red Stars forward Ally Schlegel at Penn State in 2018.