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Boyds, MD (August 21, 2018) – The Washington Spirit will look to finish its 2018 campaign strong with a three-game homestand, beginning with Utah Royals FC in Utah’s first ever visit to the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Wednesday’s match will be the third and final meeting of the 2018 NWSL regular season against Utah, as Washington looks for its first-ever win against Royals FC after falling the first two games of the series 2-0 and 1-0, respectively.
The midweek match will also feature the head coaching debut of Tom Torres, who will serve in an interim role for the final three games of the season.
“We’re all thrilled to be back at the Plex and are looking forward to putting out a strong performance,” Torres said. “Utah has a lot of quality in different spots, so we will need to be collective in everything we do and in every moment.”
Piloted by U.S. international Mallory Pugh (2 goals, 1 assist) and Ashley Hatch’s team-leading four goals, Washington’s attack aims to end their five-game goalless streak. The attacking unit will need a collective team effort to break through the Royals back line led by U.S. defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara.
Washington’s defense will also attempt to slow down the dangerous attacking group for the Royals including Katie Stengel and U.S. internationals Amy Rodriguez and Christen Press.
Press, who made her return to the NWSL on June 28 after a three-month stint with Swedish club Göteborg FC, played the final 10 minutes of Utah’s 1-0 win over the Spirit in their last meeting on August 8. Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who leads the NWSL with 99 saves, will work with the Spirit back line aiming for their fifth clean sheet of the season.
The Spirit will look to bounce back from a 4-0 defeat to the Houston Dash in their last road game of the season, while the Royals are in need of a vital three points coming off a 2-2 draw against Sky Blue FC. Utah enters the match two points away from the fourth and final playoff spot with two games remaining.
Following Wednesday’s game, the Spirit will face the reigning NWSL champion Portland Thorns FC on August 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET at Audi Field. The Spirit will return to the Maryland SoccerPlex to close out the season on Saturday, September 1 against Sky Blue FC with kickoff at 7:00 p.m. ET.