Preview: Three points on the line against Angel City FC as the Spirit returns to Audi Field

Washington Spirit  |   May 17, 2024
Preview: Three points on the line against Angel City FC as the Spirit returns to Audi Field Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (05/17/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face Angel City FC on Matchday 10 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 be broadcast nationally on ION. Fans can listen to the team’s first-ever local radio broadcast on or the ESPN 630 AM website or app.  


The Spirit 

The Spirit returns home to Audi Field after a strenuous 12-day road trip that included matches in three cities and as many time zones. Picking up six out of nine available points on the trip, the Spirit enters Saturday’s match after defeating Racing Louisville FC last Friday. The highly physical match saw 27 total fouls issued through 90 minutes.  

In the match, the Spirit surged to a hot start off the foot of Croix Bethune who netted the Spirit’s fastest goal of the season (4:09) — only the 15th goal in the fifth minute or less in Spirit history. Bethune is one of two players, along with reigning NWSL MVP Sophia Smith, to record at least four goals and four assists this season. She has played in only nine matches and is just the fifth player in league history to record at least four goals and four assists within her first 10 regular season matches, joining Abby Wambach (2013), Lauren Holiday (2013), Nadia Nadim (2015) and Kerolin (2022). Andi Sullivan assisted Bethune’s goal, moving her to sixth all-time in team history for assists.  

Aubrey Kingsbury saved the day — literally — when stopping a Louisville penalty kick, marking her sixth career PK save — third-most in NWSL history. Finally, Ouleye Sarr continued her streak of impactful minutes when creating the opportunity that led to the Spirit’s second goal (an own goal by Louisville).  

The all-time series history between Angel City FC and Washington Spirit is at a stalemate: 2-2-0. The LA-based side swept the regular season series in 2022 before the Spirit did the same last season. The all-time series goal differential is locked at four goals apiece with every single match between the two being decided by only one goal.   

Ashley Hatch has been electric in the all-time series history between the two squads, accounting for three of the Spirit’s four goals. No other player from either team has more than one. Look for her to play a key role in establishing a Spirit lead.  

Leads are crucial for the Spirit. When scoring first, the Spirit are 4-0-0 this season and has an identical record when leading at half. In fact, the Spirit is unbeaten in its last 23 matches when leading at half and 15 matches when scoring first.  

Should the Spirit continue this trend of success when striking early, it can extend its hot start to the 2024 season, the hottest start in team history. 18 points and 18 goals are both the club’s most through nine matches of a season.  

Next up, the Spirit faces Seattle Reign FC on a very special Pitchside Pups Match at Audi Field. The match will take place on Friday, May 24th at 7:30 p.m. EDT. You can find tickets here. 


The Opposition 

Angel City travels to Washington searching for a response after its 0-1 loss last week to the Houston Dash. Former Angel City defender Paige Nielsen scored the decisive goal for the Dash in the waning moments of the match (98’). Nielsen was traded from Angel City to Houston on April 20th. Houston sent $50,000 in Allocation Money and $50,000 in Intra-League Transfer Funds as a part of the transaction.  

Similar to the Spirit’s last match, Angel City endured a chippy previous match. Six of 32 total fouls as well as two yellows were tallied in the first 20 minutes of play. Despite possessing the ball 60% of the time, out-passing, and outshooting Houston, Angel City could not send one in the back of the net. 

Though, Angel City FC offers a unique challenge for the Spirit: Angel City has won consecutive away matches for the first time in team history after wins at Chicago and Utah. The only NWSL team since the start of last season to win three straight away matches in regular-season play was San Diego in May-June 2023. 

Last time Angel City was at Audi Field they couldn’t get much going. The team registered 19 shots but only four made their way on target, a number the Spirit more than doubled. Despite possessing the ball nearly 60% of the time, the Spirit dominated off of goals from Hatch and Sanchez. Four players — Emslie, Nielsen, Riley, and Vignola — have accounted for each of the four Angel City goals in the all-time series. In all four of the WAS-LA matches, the team that scores first has won.  

Finally, Angel City is susceptible late. A league-high five of the 12 goals Angel City has conceded this season have been scored in the 88th minute or later. Angel City allowed just seven goals in the 88th minute or later in its first two full regular seasons. In its next match, Angel City will face its crosstown rival San Diego Wave FC on a special Thursday matchup. The game taking place on May 23rd will start at 10:00 p.m. EDT.   



• The Spirit owns a 2-2-0 regular season record against Angel City FC. Each match in the series history has been determined by just one goal, with the team scoring first taking every victory.  

Croix Bethune’s eight combined goals and assists, four of each, are double the previous best start through nine matches for a rookie at the club, set by Trinity Rodman (2 goals, 2 assists) in 2021.

• The Spirit tallied a league-best third goal in the final 15 minutes of the first half against Louisville. 

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