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Washington, D.C. (09/29/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Kansas City Current in both sides’ 20th match of the 2023 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 7:00 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.
The Spirit is enduring perhaps the most tumultuous stretch of its 2023 season following two consecutive 0-2 defeats to the Chicago Red Stars, and most recently, NJ/NY Gotham FC.
In the away match against Gotham FC, forward Esther González, who was a prominent figure on the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning Spanish side, recorded a brace with both goals coming within five minutes of each other. The Spirit found no answers, and the final remained at 2-0 in favor of Gotham FC.
Defender Tara McKeown added three headed clearances in the match, adding to a team-high of 43 on the season. Midfielder Paige Metayer is second with 24. Only one player in the NWSL has more headed clearances than McKeown this year, San Diego Wave FC’s Kaleigh Riehl (45).
McKeown also leads the league with 104 total clearances, ten more than second-place Tierna Davidson (Chicago). With one more clearance this season, McKeown will be tied for the tenth-most clearances in a single season since 2016.
The last time the Spirit and Current faced off marks the most recent regular season victory for Washington. The Spirit won 3-2 despite falling down 0-2 in the first 23 minutes. Scoring three unanswered goals, including a game-winning goal from McKeown in the 87th minute, the Spirit was able to achieve its first ever comeback after trailing by multiple goals. McKeown would go on to win NSWSL Player of the Week honors following her dominant performance.
At the time, the victory versus Kansas City propelled the Spirit to first place on the NWSL table. Now, the Spirit sits in the sixth and final playoff-eligible spot on the table, a single point ahead of the seventh- and eighth-placed squads. The top of the table is also in sight with San Diego, currently the second place NWSL club, sitting only four points ahead of Washington.
A key for the Spirit on Saturday will be for the team to get on the board first. When conceding first, the Spirit is 1-5-2 on the season. Coincidentally, the lone victory came when the Spirit defeated the Current on June 18. The Spirit is undefeated (5-0-5) when scoring first. Additionally, the Spirit is looking to continue its streak of holding opponents scoreless in the first half in five consecutive games.
In Washington’s three all-time victories versus Kansas City, the Spirit has scored at least two goals. Conversely, in the team’s two all-time losses to the Current, the Spirit has been held scoreless.
Look out for Spirit forward Ashley Hatch who has logged nine goals this season, which ranks second in the league behind 2022 NWSL MVP Sophia Smith. Should Hatch score against the Current on Saturday, she will have goals against every active NWSL team and 15 total NWSL teams in her career.
The Spirit follows up Saturday’s match with a trip to Seattle to face OL Reign on Friday, October 6 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. This match will mark Reign forward Megan Rapinoe’s final regular season home match as she announced her plan to retire following this season.
Kansas City enters the match following an improbable 2-1 victory against one of the NWSL’s best teams – San Diego Wave FC. Current star Debinha netted a stunner in the third minute of play off a laser from the top corner of the penalty box. Kristen Hamilton doubled the KC lead 20 minutes later which marked her 25th career regular season goal. The two goals were the team’s only shots on goal in the game.
Though the Current gave up an early second half goal to Wave FC, the team weathered the storm and left with three points despite being outshot 15 to 5.
Hamilton’s game-winning goal against San Diego capped off a 15-pass play by the Current. It’s the Current’s second-most passes preceding a goal in all competitions in team history, behind a 26-pass move scored by Cece Kizer this season in first-half stoppage time against Orlando.
In 11th position on the NWSL table, the Current sits one spot away from the bottom of the table. Nonetheless, the Current remains in the hunt for an NWSL Playoff position, only four points away from the Spirit who occupies the final playoff-eligible spot. Last year’s NWSL runner-up, Kansas City has a 7-11-1 record (22 points) through 19 matches and would need a favorable finale to the season in order to advance to the NWSL Playoffs.
Despite the Current’s record, the team has only dropped two regular season matches over the last eight competitions and has not conceded more than one goal in any of the eight. It’s the club’s longest run of games without conceding more than one goal in a match, ahead of a five-match run last season which included the first two games of the NWSL playoffs.
Next up, Kansas City faces the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday, October 7 at 8:00 p.m. EDT.