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By Owen Krucoff
Boyds, Md., (5/30/19) – With a 3-match winning streak on the line,the Washington Spirit play host to Utah Royals FC on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Both teams are tied atop the NWSL standings, making this one of the early can’t-miss games of the 2019 season.
Here are some notable Spirit statistics to keep an eye on as Saturday night approaches:
Washington and Utah share identical records of 4-1-1, with Royals FC claiming first place in the table thanks to their head-to-head win over the Spirit on April 20. The point total is already more than the Spirit earned all of last season, and this week’s game represents a chance to continue that improvement and possibly take sole possession of first place.
Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe racked up seven saves in last Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars, the second time this season she has shut out an opponent while recording at least five stops. The entire rest of the NWSL has accomplished this feat just once in 2019. Bledsoe also leads the league with an 86.7% save percentage despite having faced more shots than any other goalkeeper thus far.
Washington has attempted 2,899 passes over the first six games of the season, and has been on target for a league-high 78.6% of them. While the North Carolina Courage have attempted more total passes than the Spirit, the difference in accuracy rates means the Spirit have made the most accurate passes in the NWSL.
The Spirit’s strong defense has been anchored by the efforts of Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen, both of whom have yet to miss a minute of action in their first season with the team. Staab leads the way with 30 clearances, with Nielsen following close behind at 29.
Washington has kept its opponents off the scoresheet in half of its games so far this season, allowing a total of just four goals all year. The only team in the NWSL with more clean sheets is Utah, setting up what is sure to be a defensive showcase at the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday night.
Kickoff against Royals FC is set for 7:00 p.m. ET with Gate D & the Fan Zone opening at 5:30 p.m. ET for all ticket-holding fans and Gate A opening at 6:00 p.m. [TICKETS]