For their third game in eight days, Washington Spirit travel to Los Angeles to take on Angel City FC tonight. The Spirit hope to remain the only team in the league unbeaten in regular season play, but mid-ranked Angel City won’t make that easy.
With seven goals in their last two matches, the Spirit are on a hot streak. They’ve also proven an ability to control play through the midfield with their diamond formation, while allowing the fewest goals of any team in the league this season. Tonight, though, they’ll not only face challenges from their opponents, but from the schedule. After playing at home Wednesday night, the team traveled across country on Thursday and will play at 10 p.m. ET, having had less than 48 hours to get over their jet lag.
Angel City are coming off a home win over Kansas City Current with a 2-2-2 record for the season. They’ve typically played in a 4-3-3 formation this year, with teenage phenom Alyssa Thompson at the forefront of the attack and center back Sarah Gorden, one of the fastest defenders in the league, anchoring the defense. Gorden’s speed could make her a tough match-up for Trinity Rodman, preventing the Washington attacker from getting into dangerous 1v1 situations. Angel City also have the advantage of playing in their 22,000-capacity home stadium, which typically boasts sold-out crowds of enthusiastic supporters.
Key Player: Ashley Sanchez
While she initially seemed to struggle to find her place in the Spirit’s new system, Ashley Sanchez has come roaring back over the last few weeks. She’s scored a goal in each of her last appearances (including the midweek Challenge Cup match) and increased her touches and shots on target. Spirit head coach Mark Parsons has been very clear that he wants Washington’s attack to run through Sanchez as the number 10, and she’s increasingly rising to the challenge.
Watch Out For: Julie Ertz
Julie Ertz is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and is poised to disrupt the Spirit’s midfield dominance in tonight’s game. Though she’s only made two appearances for Angel City, she had a huge impact on both games, utilizing her incredible defensive prowess and ball-handling skills to stop opposing attacks and set her teammates up to score.
Challenges: While Parsons heavily rotated the squad for the midweek game, resting most of his typical starters, the Spirit will have to work hard to maintain the identity they’ve established against a better-rested Angel City.
Previously: The Spirit have yet to earn any points off of Angel City FC, losing both matches in the expansion side’s first season last year.
Angel City FC Availability:
Out: Angelina Anderson (concussion protocol); Simone Charley (SEI – achilles); Sydney Leroux (ankle); Merritt Mathias (knee); Christen Press (SEI – knee)
Washington Spirit Availability:
Out: Bayley Feist (D45 – lower leg); Anna Heilferty (SEI – knee); Tori Huster (SEI – lower leg)
Location: BMO Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
Kickoff time: 10 p.m. ET
Referee: JC Griggs
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
Available streaming: Paramount+