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With international stars, two of the National Women’s Soccer League’s top goal-scorers and an expected sellout crowd, Saturday will be a special night at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Spirit (0-1-2) will host Portland Thorns FC (2-0-1) at 7 p.m., with a chance to earn their first win and hand the league leaders their first loss.
To do that, they’ll need to put the clamps on a Thorns attack that features U.S. star forward Alex Morgan and Canadian captain Christine Sinclair, two of the most dangerous offensive players in the world.
“Everyone in this league knows what those two are capable of, and it’ll be an exciting challenge for us to stop them,” Spirit head coach Mike Jorden said. “Portland has plenty of quality players, and we’re looking forward to the test in front of another great home crowd.”
Only a few hundred tickets remain for the match, and an over-capacity crowd is expected. The Maryland SoccerPlex holds 4,500 (3,200 seats), and the rest will be accommodated with places on Spirit Hill or standing-room-only spots on the wide stadium concourses.
Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase tickets prior to the match, either online at https://washingtonspir.wpengine.com/tickets or by calling (301) 337-8579. For those unable to attend, a live stream will be available on the league’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/NWSL.
The game brings a chance for the Spirit to earn their first win in style, as the table-topping Thorns come in after consecutive victories against Seattle Reign FC and the Chicago Red Stars.
Morgan and Sinclair flashed their potential as a forward pairing in those games, as each finished with a goal and an assist. Danielle Foxhoven has impressed too, coming on as a halftime sub against Chicago and netting her first goal.
Sinclair’s two goals on the year place her in a tie for the league lead, where she’s joined by her Canadian teammate and Spirit midfielder Diana Matheson, who has played all 270 minutes and scored in each of the past two games.
On the defensive side, the Spirit will look to stars of its own to counter the Thorns’ firepower. Canadian national teamer Robyn Gayle is no stranger to Sinclair, while Ali Krieger, Lori Lindsey and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris are well aware of Morgan’s capabilities from their time with the U.S. squad.
Harris comes in ranked highly on the league stat sheet as well, sitting in second place for saves (17), three behind Western New York Flash keeper Adrianna Franch (20, with one more game played).