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This is it. The regular season finale for the Washington Spirit doubles as the most important match of the year. Win and they qualify for the playoffs as the 3rd seed, just one season removed from a last place finish. Draw or lose, then their fate lies in the hands of the Portland Thorns and Chicago Red Stars. The Spirit will take on Sky Blue FC Saturday evening at 6:30 pm ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
In their last match, the Spirit had a chance to clinch a playoff spot. The Spirit took a 1-0 lead over the first place Seattle Reign early in the match and were excruciatingly close to closing out the victory. However, in the 88th minute, Kim Little broke the Spirit’s heart with an equalizer. Had the Spirit held on to win, this match against Sky Blue would be a time to rest going into the playoffs. Instead, this final game could be the difference between celebrating a playoff berth or cursing missed opportunities.
The Spirit and Sky Blue have met twice previously this season. The Spirit are 0-1-1, losing the match they played 4-2 on July 20th. The Spirit should have a rest advantage heading into this game, having last played a week ago, on August 9th. Sky Blue last played Wednesday August 13th, defeating the Western NY Flash 3-2. Sky Blue has finished the season strong, winning 4 of their last 5 matches.
Once again, the Spirit hold control over their destiny. A win brings them to 38 points on the season, a number that Chicago and Portland cannot reach. If the Spirit tie, that brings them to 36 points, which Chicago and Portland can pass depending on their results. With the playoffs in plain sight, it is up to the Spirit to take care of business on Saturday.