Preview: Spirit Looks to Capture Much-Needed Three Points as Playoffs Draw Nearer

Washington Spirit  |   September 1, 2023
Preview: Spirit Looks to Capture Much-Needed Three Points as Playoffs Draw Nearer Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (09/02/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars in both sides’ 18th match of the 2023 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 5:00 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on


The Spirit

In a battle against top-ranked Portland Thorns FC last weekend, the Spirit left with one point. The 1-1 draw was a scoreless stalemate throughout the majority of the match. Following a Portland goal off a chipped ball from Morgan Weaver in the 64th minute, the Spirit answered with a penalty kick in the second minute of second half stoppage time to tie the game.


Forward Ashley Hatch connected on the PK, recording her ninth goal of the regular season, good for second-most in the league this year. It also marked her fifth successful penalty kick of the season — a new Spirit record and one shy of the NWSL single season record. Additionally, Hatch has now scored 39 goals with the Spirit, two shy of fourth-most for a single club in league history.


The draw was the team’s third consecutive and eighth of the season — second most in the NWSL. The last victory for the Spirit came on June 18 versus the Kansas City Current in a match that the Spirit scored three unanswered goals to come from behind. Three points are a luxury in the NWSL, particularly as teams enter the final five games of the NWSL season.


The last meeting with the Red Stars came over four months ago in late April, resulting in a 1-1 draw. In that match, Hatch shined in a similar way to last weekend. She scored the Spirit’s only goal off a penalty kick in the 29th minute.


Also, in that match, defender Sam Staab broke the NWSL record for the most consecutive regular season matches started. At the time, Staab surpassed teammate Amber Brooks’ record of 73 but has since extended the record to 85 consecutive regular season starts.


With an appearance in Sunday’s match, defender Tara McKeown will appear in her 50th career NWSL match. All 50 matches have come with the Spirit. The forward-turned-center back has been a key fixture on the Spirit back line this season and leads the NWSL in clearances (99). Chicago’s Tierna Davidson is closest with 78. Goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury looks to notch her 30th career regular season clean sheet should the Spirit hold the Red Stars scoreless on Sunday.


Following Sunday’s match, the Spirit receives a well-deserved break, not playing again until Saturday, September 16 when the team travels to Harrison, New Jersey to face off against east coast rival NJ/NY Gotham FC. That match wll kickoff at 7:30 p.m. EDT.


The Opposition

The Chicago Red Stars are coming off one of the side’s strongest performances in the last month of play. Despite earning only one point in a 1-1 draw, the Red Stars thwarted a North Carolina Courage team that could’ve propelled to first place on the NWSL table with a win.


After conceding an early goal, the Red Stars controlled the pace and possession of the match. Chicago completed nearly 70 more passes in the final third than the Courage, while 11 of its 13 shots came inside the Courage’s box. With nearly 30 minutes of play remaining, the Red Stars had already surpassed the team’s season average for shots.


The Red Stars’ successes last week can be attributed to the performances of many, but perhaps none as important as Julia Bianchi. Her assist to Tatumn Milazzo was her fourth assist from a corner kick this season, more than any other player in the NWSL. Bianchi led the team in chances created (4), crosses attempted (10), recoveries (15) and tackles won (3). With an appearance in the game Sunday, Milazzo will appear in her 50th NWSL regular season match, all of which have come with the Red Stars.


With 17 points through 17 matches (5-10-2), the Red Stars sit at the bottom of the 2023 NWSL table. However, two of the team’s five wins this season have come in the last four games. These wins came in consecutive weeks directly preceding the World Cup against San Diego and Houston, respectively.


Throughout the season, the Red Stars have suffered major defensive lapses, resulting in extreme blowouts. The Red Stars have been shut out four times and, in each of those matches, have given up three or more goals. Two of those occasions were 0-5 defeats. The Red Stars have allowed 39 goals this season, the most through 17 league games of a season in NWSL history. Chicago’s 24 goals allowed through nine road games are third-most allowed at this point in a season in NWSL history with only the Boston Breakers having more (2015 – 26, 2016 – 25).


Since June 10, however, the Red Stars have won as many games as the Spirit (2). In that time, the Red Stars have a 2-4-1 record, while the Spirit has a 2-2-3 record. Chicago has also had success against the Spirit on the road. It is unbeaten in its last six road games in regular season play against the Spirit (W4, D2) with Washington’s last home regular season win in the series coming in the 2016 season. It is the longest regular season unbeaten streak ever for an opponent in road games against Washington.


Next up, Chicago returns home to face Angel City FC on Sunday, September 17 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.



  • The Washington Spirit owns an 11-10-8 record against the Chicago Red Stars. These 29 meetings are tied for the second-most against a single team in Spirit club history. The Red Stars trip to DC will mark the first time the team has played at Audi Field in the all-time history between the two sides. At other home venues in the series, the Spirit is 5-5-3.
  • With a goal in last week’s match, Ashley Hatch set a career best single season goal contribution mark (11 – 9G, 2A). Also, Hatch has now scored a game-tying or game-winning penalty kick in second half stoppage time three different times in the regular season in her NWSL career. Hatch’s three result-changing penalties in stoppage time are the most of any player in league history.
  • All four of Julia Bianchi’s assists have been on headed goals, as she joins Coutney Petersen (4) as the only NWSL players at three or more career assists with 100 percent of them coming on headed goals.
  • Former college teammates meet again:
    • Spirit midfielder Tori Huster played with Red Stars defender Casey Krueger at Florida State (2008-11).
    • Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan played with Red Stars defender Tierna Davidson at Stanford from 2016-17.
    • Spirit midfielder Riley Tanner played with Red Stars defender Tatumn Milazzo at South Carolina in 2018.
    • Spirit defender Tara McKeown played with Red Stars forward Penelope Hocking at Southern California from 2018-21.
    • Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Red Stars forward Ally Schlegel at Penn State in 2018.
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