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By Owen Krucoff
Boyds, Md., (8/8/19) – The Washington Spirit are back at home for the first time in three weeks to take on the Chicago Red Stars in a matchup of NWSL playoff contenders.
After a 2-0 victory in their first meeting with Chicago this season, the Spirit will look to clinch the season series over the Red Stars on Saturday at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Here are some statistics to keep an eye on as kickoff approaches. All figures are as of Tuesday, August 6, unless otherwise noted.
Defenders Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen are among the most prolific passers in the NWSL. Staab boasts the league’s highest pass total with 917, while Nielsen sits in third with 833. Together they are the top passing duo in the league, with no other pair of teammates registering as many passes.
No statistical roundup would be complete without mentioning the Spirit’s decorated starting goalkeeper. Aubrey Bledsoe has anchored the team week in, week out this year, and her save percentage is the second-best in the NWSL. As of Thursday, August 8, she is also second in clean sheets (6) and first in saves (55). Last week, she earned her third Save of the Week award in 2019 with an excellent stop against the North Carolina Courage.
The Spirit and Red Stars are two of the NWSL’s most clinical teams in front of goal this season. Both have scored on 14.6% of their shots on goal this season, tied for the second-best rate in the league. Spirit midfielder Jordan DiBiasi has scored with four of her five shots on target, while Chicago’s Yuki Nagasato has four goals out of eight accurate attempts.
Washington has earned a reputation as a second half team this season. The team has scored 68% of its goals in the second 45, the highest percentage in the league. The Spirit could certainly ride a wave of late momentum in this weekend’s game, as the Red Stars have scored just 42% of their goals in the second half, the second-lowest mark in the NWSL.
The excellent passing of Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen has already been discussed here, but the theme of top-notch distribution continues up and down the Washington roster. Besides having the largest volume of passes, the Spirit also own the league’s best pass accuracy rate at 79.2%.
Saturday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Fans can also view the match on NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports Network. [TICKETS]