Preview: Spirit faces Bay FC in home opener at Audi Field

Washington Spirit  |   March 22, 2024
Preview: Spirit faces Bay FC in home opener at Audi Field Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (03/22/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face Bay FC in both sides’ second match of the 2024 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast ION.


The Spirit

The Washington Spirit opened its 2024 season with a 0-1 defeat to Seattle Reign FC last Sunday. After surrendering a penalty kick in the first seconds of the match, the Spirit was on the backfoot for much of the match. Goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury logged five first half saves, her most since 2019, before being ejected following a red card for handling a ball outside of the box. Second-year keeper, Lyza Bosselmann, promptly appeared in goal, making her Spirit and NWSL debut. However, Bosselmann will not be needed in the team’s home opener after the Spirit successfully appealed Kingsbury’s red card.


An additional five players made their Spirit debuts on the Starting XI, including three NWSL first round draft selections – Croix BethuneHal Hershfelt and Kate Wiesner – and two offseason free agent signees, Casey Krueger and Brittany Ratcliffe.


Heading into the team’s home opener at Audi Field, the Spirit has never lost its first two matches of a season and has won its first regular season home match in each of the last five seasons dating back to 2018. Should this hold true, the Spirit should be in good shape.


Bay FC was awarded expansion on April 4, 2023, and is one of the newest expansion sides in the NWSL. Accordingly, Saturday marks the first-ever meeting between Washington and Bay FC. The Spirit has won its last three home matches against California clubs dating back to May 2022.


Audi Field represents one of the best home field advantages in the NWSL. In 26 regular season games at Audi Field, the Spirit has only lost six. This marks one of the lowest losing percentages in the NWSL (min. 25 games played), trailing only Portland (Providence Park), Seattle (Lumen Field) and North Carolina (WakeMed Soccer Park).


Be on the lookout for Trinity Rodman who will make her season debut on Saturday night after missing last week’s game – the red card she received in the 2023 season finale caused her to miss the first match of this season. With one assist, she will tie Diana Matheson and Crystal Dunn for the Spirit all-time assists record with 11.


Next up, the Spirit continues its homestand at Audi Field, hosting Utah Royals FC on Sunday, March 31 at 1:00 p.m EDT. Tickets and promotions for that match are available now.


The Opposition

Bay FC won its first-ever NWSL match, 1-0, over Angel City FC on Sunday, becoming the third expansion team (excluding relocated teams) to win its inaugural NWSL regular season match, along with fellow California teams Angel City FC and San Diego Wave FC.


Bay FC star Asisat Oshoala opened the scoring in the 17th minute, tallying Bay FC’s first goal as a club. Osholala, a striker who came to the club from FC Barcelona this offseason, was one of the most highly-touted signees in the NWSL this season. Additionally, Savy King, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft became the first rookie to appear in a game for the club, while Alex Loera was Bay FC’s first team captain.


The Spirit will also face a set of familiar faces on Saturday as Dorian Bailey, Angela Salem and Albertin Montoya return to DC. Salem was an assistant coach with the Spirit before taking a coaching position with Bay FC this season, and Montoya was the Spirit’s interim head coach during the 2022 season. Bailey was drafted by the Spirit in 2019 and is sixth all-time in Spirit history with 73 matches played.


A key piece for Bay FC will not see the field on Saturday. Racheal Kundananji made headlines prior to the start of the season for joining Bay FC on a world-record fee of $785,000. The 23-year-old Zambian forward picked up an injury during international break a few weeks ago. She will be joining from Madrid CFF.


Bay FC faces the difficult task of playing its first two matches in team history on the road. Entering this season, an NWSL team, expansion or not, has opened a regular season with back-to-back road games 15 times with none of them opening the campaign with consecutive wins. Furthermore, the Bay area team comes to Washington with high hopes: With a win, Bay can become the second expansion team to win its first two NWSL regular season matches (San Diego – 2022).


Bay FC will open its home schedule at San Jose’s PayPal Park on Saturday, March 30 at 10:00 p.m EDT against the Houston Dash.



  • This is the first-ever meeting between the Washington Spirit and Bay FC.
  • Three NWSL draftees appearing in the Spirit’s Starting XI last Sunday marked the most of any team this season.
    • All five draft selections that were signed by the Spirit appeared in the game.
  • Ashley Hatch
    • Hatch has scored at least nine goals in each of the last three regular seasons, totaling 28 goals since the start of 2021. The only other players in league history to score nine or more goals in three straight regular seasons are Lynn Williams (4 straight from 2016-19) and Sam Kerr (2017-19).
    • Hatch’s next goal with the Spirit will give her as many goals as the second (Matheson, 23) and third (Dunn, 17) all-time leading Spirit scorers combined. Additionally, she will become the fifth player in NWSL history to score 40 goals with one club. Christine Sinclair (POR, 62), Megan Rapinoe (SEA, 51), Lynn Williams (NC, 42), and Jess Fishlock (SEA, 42) are the only players to accomplish this feat.


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