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Washington, D.C. (04/21/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Houston Dash on Saturday night in both sides’ fourth match of the 2023 regular season. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on NWSLSoccer.com as well.
Heading into the fourth regular season match of the season, the Spirit has an undefeated 2-0-1 record, good enough for a league-leading seven points – tied with Portland Thorns FC. The team is coming off a 0-1 defeat to NJ/NY Gotham FC in the side’s first UKG NWSL Challenge Cup game on Wednesday night.
The Spirit owns a 5-7-4 all-time record against the Houston Dash, failing to pick up a win in two matches last season (0-1-1). Since the 2018 season, the Spirit has only defeated the Dash on two occasions – both of which came in the 2021 season during the club’s run to winning the NWSL Championship. That said, four of the Spirit’s five wins versus the Dash have come at home, tied for the club’s second-most home victories against one team. At Audi Field, the Spirit has faced the Dash twice, earning a 1-0 victory on Halloween in 2021 and losing 1-2 last October.
The long history between the two clubs has given many Spirit players ample experience against the Dash. Ashley Hatch, Aubrey Kingsbury and Andi Sullivan have played in 11 of the club’s 16 total matches against the Dash. Tori Huster has also played in 11 matches against Houston but will continue to be sidelined with a lower leg injury for Saturday’s match. In these 11 games, Hatch has scored four goals and Kingsbury has logged three clean sheets.
This season, the Spirit has struggled to possess and accurately pass the ball. The Spirit ranks last in both categories, possessing the ball 39.97% of the time and recording a 62.5% passing accuracy. That said, the Spirit is executing when it matters most – 75% of the team’s big chances this year have been converted into goals. Additionally, the Spirit ranks second in the NWSL with 31 possessions won in the attacking third.
The team’s bread and butter this season has been on defense, neutralizing scoring chances from opponents. The Spirit has the most clearances in the league (84), is second in tackles won (38), tied for fourth in goals allowed (3) and tied for third in shots on goal allowed (12).
Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit will recuperate until next Saturday when the side travels to Chicago to face the Red Stars at 8 p.m. EDT.
The Dash enter the match similarly undefeated, owning sole possession of sixth place (1-0-2, 5 points) on the NWSL table. Most recently, the Dash drew 1-1 on the road against the reigning NWSL Champion Portland Thorns FC. Houston became the first team to score at Providence Park in Portland this season. In that game, defender Caprice Dydasco logged her 10,000th career regular season minute in the NWSL, becoming only the 32nd player in league history to accomplish that feat.
Last season, the Dash finished the regular season in fourth place, losing to the Kansas City Current, who would later advance to the NWSL Championship, in the first round of the playoffs. The Dash is unbeaten in 12 of its last 14 matches, finishing the 2022 season unbeaten in nine of its last 11 matches.
If 2022 is any indicator, the Dash is an offensive threat, scoring four or more goals on four occasions and logging the third most goals (35) in the league. These scoring chances came in bunches despite a 47.14% possession rate.
Last season’s Dash team was also a true road warrior, winning a league-high seven away matches. No other team had more than five, and the Spirit failed to win one such match. This trend has continued this season as the Dash’s lone victory came on the road against Chicago.
This season, the Dash is showing similar offensive pressure, ranking second in shots on target (17) but failing to convert on the opportunities. Of teams that have at least 15 shots on goal, the Dash has scored the fewest number of goals (3). Similarly, the Dash has created the second-most big chances (11) but has converted on less than 20% — second-worst in the league.
Next up, Houston will play the North Carolina Courage in a regular season match at home next Friday at 8:30 p.m. EDT.