Spirit Take Five Match Road Unbeaten Streak into Sunday Clash with Chicago

Washington Spirit  |   July 31, 2021
Spirit Take Five Match Road Unbeaten Streak into Sunday Clash with Chicago Featured Image

LEESBURG, VA – JULY 2: Kumi Yokoyama #17 of the Washington Spirit moves the ball around Chicago defense during a game between Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit at Segra Field on July 2, 2021 in Leesburg, Virginia.

Ian Decker
Leesburg, VA., (07/31/2021) – The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, August 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET at SeatGeek Stadium. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+ for fans in the United States and Twitch for international viewers. 

Sunday’s outing will be the third and final regular-season meeting between the two clubs. Chicago has one-upped the Spirit so far, battling to a 1–1 draw and picking up a 1–0 victory. Sunday’s encounter will give the Red Stars home-field advantage in two of the three fixtures. 

The Opposition
Chicago currently occupies the fourth spot in the table and trails Washington by one point (18 to 17) having played one more game. And despite being in the top half of the table, the Red Stars are tied on points with the North Carolina Courage and hold a one-point lead over the Houston Dash — both the Courage and Dash have played one fewer match than Chicago. In other words, a loss on Sunday, paired with favorable results elsewhere in the league, and Chicago could drop as far as seventh. 

With the Tokyo Olympics in full swing — the tournament currently is in the semifinals — the Red Stars are missing four regulars: goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defenders Casey Krueger and Tierna Davidson, and midfielder Julie Ertz, although Ertz just recently returned to the field following an MCL  injury. Defender Bianca St. Georges will also be out for this matchup due to suspension following a red card in last week’s match.

Despite five starters away from the team, Chicago has one of the most complete and versatile rosters in the league. Players like Sarah Gorden on defense, Vanessa DiBernardo, Sarah Woldmoe and Morgan Gautrat in midfield, and Rachel Hill, Mallory Pugh and Kealia Watt up top illustrate the depth Head Coach Rory Dames has at his disposal. 

The Spirit
Just four points back of the Portland Thorns in first place, the Spirit are 3–0–2 in their previous five games. Over that span, Washington has netted eight goals and are tied for the third-best scoring margin in the league. Although both Chicago and Washington have five wins on the season, the Spirit have two fewer losses, two more goals and six fewer goals against than the Red Stars.

Sunday’s outing will be the final match of a two-game road trip; the Spirit traveled to Louisville last weekend and picked up a convincing 2–0 victory. Upon their return to the nation’s capital, Washington will play three of their next four fixtures at home, with one match at Segra Field and two at Audi Field. 

Despite missing key players in Kelley O’Hara (USA), Emily Sonnett (USA) and Julia Roddar (Sweden) — all of whom are still playing in Tokyo after their respective teams advanced to the semifinals — Richie Burke’s squad has proven capable of staying competitive and getting positive results. Saori Takarada (Japan) saw her side fall in the quarterfinals of the Olympics to Sweden, but the young defender will not return in time for Sunday’s affair.

Washington is led by Aubrey Bledsoe in net and buoyed by the partnership of Sam Staab and Paige Nielsen on defense. Andi Sullivan and Tori Huster lead the midfield and link up with the Spirit’s triad of forwards in Ashley Hatch (Week 8 player of the week, six goals), Trinity Rodman (three goals, two assists) and Ashley Sanchez (three goals).  

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