Washington Spirit face San Diego Wave FC this afternoon at Buzzard Point in this weekend’s marquee match on CBS. Both teams have 9 points in the NWSL standings and will be fighting to maintain a top spot, as well to show their skills to a wider audience.
The Spirit remain undefeated but haven’t won a game or scored a goal in open play since April 15. Though they’ve proven their ability to put on a strong defensive performance in the 4-4-2 formation – holding opponents to just 4 goals – the Spirit have struggled to consistently create and finish scoring opportunities. Head coach Mark Parsons said the team had made two big steps forward with their most recent games, and the stats show the team has improved in passing, shots, and possession, but they will face a difficult challenge in San Diego.
The Wave are a well-organized, tactically proficient team coming off a surprising home loss to Orlando Pride, which could give them an edge mentally against Washington. The team boasts a number of talented stars, including forward Alex Morgan, goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, and defender Naomi Girma, and can be difficult to move out of their structure. Parsons said that, because of the strong sense of identity the Wave have, his side has focused on preparing to face them as a team, rather than on tactics targeting any individual players.
Key Player: Paige Metayer
One of the biggest surprises of the Spirit’s season so far, rookie midfielder Paige Metayer will be essential to the team’s ability to control the midfield and recover possession. As one of the wings of Washington’s midfield diamond, Metayer brings physicality and good ball winning skills, and strong positional sense to her role. She has grown over the course of the season, improving her passing accuracy and recording her first shots in last week’s game against Chicago Red Stars.
Watch Out For: Jaedyn Shaw
After briefly training with the Spirit in 2022, 18-year-old Jaedyn Shaw is now a consistent starter for the Wave and tied for second place (and with teammate Alex Morgan) in the golden boot race with three goals so far. Shaw is a quick-thinking and -moving attacker, skilled at slipping past defenders to get into scoring position and making accurate strikes.
Challenges: The Spirit need to start scoring more goals to win games, but the offensive improvement they’ve showed over the last few games could stall out against an organized and motivated San Diego side that is unlikely to make many mistakes Washington can capitalize on.
Previously: These teams last met at Audi Field last September in a high-scoring match that the Spirit won 4-3 with a penalty kick 10 minutes into stoppage time. Their only other head-to-head was a 2-1 victory for San Diego at home.
San Diego Wave Availability:
Out: Abby Dahlkemper (SEI – back); Meggie Dougherty Howard (thigh); Giovanna DeMarco (knee); Taylor Kornieck (abdomen); Emily van Egmond (back); Kelsey Turnbow (back)
Washington Spirit Availability:
Out: Bayley Feist (lower leg); Anna Heilferty (knee – SEI); Tori Huster (lower leg – SEI)
Questionable: Dorian Bailey (thigh)
Location: Audi Field, Washington, DC
Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Referee: Matt Thompson
Available TV: CBS