Spirit look to bounce back against Thorns in third Challenge Cup match

Washington Spirit  |   July 4, 2020
Spirit look to bounce back against Thorns in third Challenge Cup match Featured Image

HERRIMAN, UT – JUNE 27: Jordan DiBiasi #11 of Washington Spirit shoots the ball during a game between Washington Spirit and Chicago Red Stars at Zions Bank Stadium on June 27, 2020 in Herriman, Utah.

Alejandra Martin

Boyds, Md., (7/4/20) – The Washington Spirit will play their third game of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup against the Portland Thorns on July 5 at 10 pm ET at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, UT. The game will be streamed live on CBS All-Access.

During the 2019 season, the Spirit split the results against the Thorns with each earning one win, one draw and one loss. The competitive nature of the Spirit’s matches with Portland was also seen in the standings last season, as the Thorns finished just six points above the Spirit with 40, grabbing the third playoff spot.

The Opposition

So far, the Thorns haven’t won any of their two 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup matches, losing the first fixture 2-1 against the North Carolina Courage and tying their second match against the Chicago Red Stars 0-0 last Wednesday. 

The Thorns will be looking to turn their luck around on Sunday, and will most likely look to utilize midfielder Lindsey Horan, who leads the team in shots taken (6) and the all-time world leader for international goals scored, Christine Sinclair, in the attacking half of the field. 

Moreover, defender Meghan Klingenberg will be key in creating opportunities for them down the left flank, having created 4 key passes with an 81.5% successful passing rate thus far in the tournament.

The Spirit

After winning their first match against the Chicago Red Stars 2-1 and falling in their second against the North Carolina Courage 2-0, the Spirit find themselves in third place with three points, being the only team, apart from the Courage and the Utah Royals, to have won a match in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

The Spirit may look towards their defenders to jumpstart the offense, as the Spirit aim to build attacks from deep within their own defensive third. Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen have been heavily involved in build-up play, as the two players attempted the highest number of passes during the Spirit’s last match, Staab with 51 and Nielsen with 55. 

In addition, it will be important for the Spirit to find forward Ashley Hatch and midfielder Rose Lavelle in the final third of the field to capitalize on the team’s attacking opportunities, as the pair account for seven out of the 13 shots the team has recorded so far in the tournament. Midfielder Jordan DiBiasi will play a big part in creating these chances since she has is creating a chance every 30 minutes and 15 seconds of play, making her the fifth most frequent chance-creator so far in the tournament.

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