Preview: Spirit looks to bounce back in weekday road match versus Chicago

Washington Spirit  |   April 30, 2024
Preview: Spirit looks to bounce back in weekday road match versus Chicago Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (04/30/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face the Chicago Red Stars in both sides’ seventh match of the 2024 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois and will be broadcast locally on MNMT (Monumental Sports Network). The match can also be streamed on NWSL+. 


The Spirit 

The Spirit fell, 2-3, to the Orlando Pride in its most recent match, ending a four-game win streak. It was the first regular season win streak of four games or more since the last three matches of the 2021 season and the first of 2022. If bonus points were awarded for style, the Spirit would’ve won handily. The two goals that found the back of the net for the Spirit were as stunning as they were effective, twice sending the Spirit crowd of 11,636 into bedlam.  


The first was an Ouleye Sarr chipper off a feed from Croix Bethune. The goal was Sarr’s second of the season and Bethune’s first career assist. Bethune has now scored two goals and added an assist in the last three matches. On the season, the rookie has three goals and one assist and has created both of the Spirit’s penalty kicks. 


Ashley Hatch added the second goal – a bomb from just outside the top corner of the 18-yard box. It marked Hatch’s second goal of the season; look for her to continue tallying to her count in the match against Chicago. The striker, who signed a three-year contract extension with the Spirit prior to the season, has scored 51 goals with the Spirit (all competitions), tying Debinha (NC) for the third-most goals with a single club in NWSL history. She trails Megan Rapinoe (54 – SEA) by just three goals.  


Orlando striker Barbra Banda manipulated the Spirit backline, scoring a goal, dishing out an assist and creating a PK. The Spirit will look to secure its back four and prevent a similarly dynamic attacker in Mallory Swanson from impacting the game in a negative way. Swanson, a former Spirit player from 2017 to 2019, has tallied two goals and an assist this season. She signed a four-year contract this offseason and has returned to the pitch this season after missing nearly the entirety of last season with a torn patellar tendon.  


Looking ahead to Wednesday, the Spirit has had consistent trouble with the Chicago-based side. The Red Stars have lost only one of the side’s eight meetings with the Spirit since the start of the 2021 season (W3, D4), the sole loss being the 2021 NWSL Championship. Chicago’s nine-match regular-season unbeaten run against the Spirit, dating back to 2019, is the club’s longest against any opponent since a 15-match run against then-Sky Blue FC from 2013 to 2018. 


Other considerations for Wednesday’s match include the record-setting start for the Spirit’s offense. With two goals last week, the Spirit has logged 11 goals on the season, the most through six matches in Spirit history. 


The road trip continues for the Spirit with a quick turnaround in Portland on Saturday night. This will be the second of a three-game road trip, with the match kicking off at 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 4.   


The Opposition 

The Red Stars enter the match after a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Portland Thorns FC. Despite the score line, the Red Stars made an impact on the match, creating numerous chances but could ultimately not claw back after conceding two goals in less than 30 minutes. The Red Stars have been shut out in each of their two losses this season.  


Chicago outshot Portland – with three more shots and four more shots on goal – and even recorded a slightly higher expected goal tally (1.45 v. 1.4 xG) as well. Additionally, the Red Stars hit the woodwork three times, becoming the first team since May of last season to hit the woodwork three or more times in a match in which it failed to score.  


Notably, Taylor Malham led Chicago with five chances created for teammates against Portland. In her first 16 NWSL appearances (all competitions), Malham had totaled just four chances created. Though, Swanson has carried the offensive load for Chicago, leading the team in shots (14), shots on target (9), big chances (4) and fast breaks (3) and being tied for first on the side with two goals.  


The Red Stars have consistently been a thorn in the Spirit’s side, with last year being no exception. In two matches, the Red Stars were unbeaten and even picked up three points at Audi Field – the Spirit’s only loss to Chicago at the venue – last September. The 2-0 victory over the Spirit played a crucial role in Washington’s slim margin in missing the 2023 NWSL Playoffs. 


Last year, the Red Stars sat at the bottom of the NWSL table, owning a league-worst -22 goal differential (16 goals worse than the 11th-place team) and 50 goals conceded (14 worse than the 11th-place team). Despite this, the Spirit scored only once against Chicago in 2023, picking up a single point in two matches. History indicates Wednesday’s matchup will be hotly contested.  


Former Spirit player Camryn Biegalski made her 2024 NWSL season debut last week. Biegalski joins Sam Staab as Red Stars who played on the Spirit in 2023. Staab was traded for the third overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft, which the Spirit used to select Croix Bethune. A 2023 NWSL Defensive Player of the Year finalist, Staab set the record earlier in April for the most consecutive regular season appearances (94) in NWSL history and continues to add to the total.  


Next up, Chicago faces a Bay FC side that has lost four of its last five on Sunday, May 5 at 8 p.m. EDT. 



The Spirit owns a 7-11-7 regular season record against the Chicago Red Stars, including a 4-5-4 record on the road. At SeatGeek Stadium, the Spirit has won once in nine total visits to the venue, holding a 1-4-4 record in Illinois. All-time, the goal differential favors Chicago by nine goals (21-30).  

The Spirit has scored multiple goals in each of its last five matches, the longest streak in Spirit history.  

Casey Krueger, who was one of two new free agents signed by the Spirit this offseason, surpassed 10,000 regular season minutes last week against Orlando. The veteran defender is the 46th NWSL player (40th field player) to accomplish this feat and has provided stability to the Spirit’s Starting XI at the outside back position. Krueger played her entire career with Chicago (2016-23) prior to joining the Spirit this season.  

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