At their second home game in a row, Washington Spirit will attempt to get back to their winning ways tonight against Racing Louisville FC.
The Spirit had a strong start to the season and are just one point behind the top of the table in NWSL standings, but they’ve struggled to control play and possession in their last two matches, and it’s been nearly a month since they’ve scored in open play. To win tonight, they’ll need to bring an intensity and coordination that was missing from those matches.
One day before the game, head coach Mark Parsons was optimistic about the Spirit’s progress. He said the long string of home matches – this game is the second of four in a row – is giving the team more time to train than they’ve had all season. In their time so far, the Spirit have looked at past mistakes and successes and have focused on being a team and communicating on and off the pitch.
“What we know is when we’ve played a bit more individual, we haven’t been successful. When we’ve played collective, we’ve been unplayable,” Parsons said.
While it took some time for Racing Louisville to find their footing this season, they’ve had a strong run of form in recent weeks and currently sit at 8th place in the NWSL standings. Coached by Kim Björkegren, Louisville typically play in a 4-2-3-1 formation and have been one of the best teams at creating chances. Their defense could pose a challenge as well; goalkeeper Katie Lund is top of the league in saves this season.
Key Player: Ashley Sanchez
Attacking midfielder Ashley Sanchez is the focal point of Washington’s attack. She leads the team in shots and shots on target, in addition to playing an essential role in linking the forwards to the rest of the team on the attack.
“When I talk about our number 10, this position, this player, this positional profile is someone who can create opportunities for us,” Parsons said when discussing her before the game. “They can dribble, they can pass, they can cross, they can shoot. Sanchez is one of the best 10s at threatening with all those things, and she can make runs behind.”
Watch Out For: Savannah DeMelo
Leads the team in offensive actions, with 3 goals and 2 assists. DeMelo is skilled at finding open spaces to progress the ball toward opponent’s goals, via both carries and passes. She’ll be quick to capitalize on any chances the Spirit give her.
Challenges: To be successful, the Spirit need to create more goal-scoring opportunities and, after letting Gotham FC run the show last week, show that they can control play through the midfield.
Previously: The Spirit and Racing split points in Louisville on April 1, after Washington let a first half 2-goal lead slip into a draw.
Racing Louisville FC Availability:
Out: Jordyn Bloomer (D45 – back); Jess McDonald (excused absence): Nadia Nadim (SEI – knee)
Washington Spirit Availability:
Out: Bayley Feist (D45 – lower leg); Anna Heilferty (SEI – knee); Tori Huster (SEI – lower leg)
Location: Audi Field, Washington, DC
Kickoff time: 8 p.m. ET
Referee: Rebecca Pagan
Available streaming: Paramount+