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Boyds, MD (May 25, 2017) – The Washington Spirit (1-4-1, 4 pts) will visit FC Kansas City (2-2-2, 8 pts) on Saturday, May 27 for the second matchup in as many weeks between the two sides. Kickoff from Swope Soccer Village is set for 8 p.m. ET with a live stream available on go90.
Kansas City came away with a 1-0 win last Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex, and the Spirit will look to return the favor with a road win this weekend. FCKC is unbeaten at home so far this season with a win and two draws.
“We come into this match with confidence and belief in how we’re playing,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “Last weekend’s match with KC was the best performance we’ve had this season. We look to continue our improvement and begin to get the results we feel our play deserves.”
Washington had six on-target shots compared to FCKC’s four last weekend in their first meeting of the season, but a 39th minute goal from Alexa Newfield on an assist from Sydney Leroux proved to be the difference. Despite being held scoreless, the Spirit attack was dangerous for much of the evening as Cheyna Williams led the way with three shots on goal, and Kristie Mewis came within inches of scoring in the 22nd minute on a shot that struck the crossbar.
The Spirit’s newest player, 19-year-old U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh, made her historic pro debut in the loss, subbing on for fellow rookie Arielle Ship in the 55th minute. Pugh, the youngest current player in the NWSL, helped Washington generate a pair of scoring chances during her 35 minutes of action. She recorded one shot on target and also made a high-speed run up the left wing resulting in a dangerous cross sent into the Spirit box.
For a second straight week, Pugh and the Spirit attack will face off with U.S. Women’s National Team captain Becky Sauerbrunn and the top-ranked FCKC defense. Sauerbrunn, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart and the rest of the FCKC defense have conceded only three goals while recording three clean sheets through their first six games. FCKC has not allowed a goal in its last 197 minutes of play, going back to the 73rd minute of the team’s 1-1 draw against the Orlando Pride on May 7.
Washington’s standout goalkeeper, Canadian international and 2016 Rio Olympics bronze medalist Stephanie Labbé, enters Week 7 ranked second in the NWSL in saves with 29 for the season. Labbé and Spirit defender Estelle Johnson were each named to the NWSL Team of the Month for April. Johnson has compiled a team-high 21 interceptions through her first six games.
Along with Johnson and Labbé, center backs Shelina Zadorsky and Whitney Church are among the four Spirit players to have played all 540 minutes this season. Zadorsky has recorded a team-high 257 passes, while Church leads the Spirit with six blocked shots. Church, Johnson and Zadorsky are tied for the team lead with 24 clearances each.
On the FCKC side, midfielder Yael Averbuch is first on the team with 323 total passes. Her 132 forward passes completed are best in the NWSL. Sauerbrunn has piled up a team-high 39 clearances, while Lo’eau LaBonta leads the way with 15 interceptions. Between the posts, Barnhart enters Week 7 with an NWSL-best save percentage (88.5%).
Following this Saturday’s visit to Kansas City, the Spirit will return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex for a June 3 matchup with the Houston Dash. [TICKETS]
Tickets for all Washington Spirit home games are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com
Top Facts, Provided by Opta
|+ 1 WAS
|+ 5 FCKC