Washington Spirit face San Diego Wave FC away tonight, both teams looking to snap a losing streak and stay near the top of the NWSL standings before a six-week break in the regular season.
With six players away on international duty, the Spirit had their worst loss of the season last weekend, going down 3-0 against Orlando Pride. In that match, Washington’s midfield failed to exert the control necessary for their diamond structure to succeed, and the team looked short on attacking options.
Spirit head coach Mark Parsons blamed much of last Saturday’s performance on a lack of intensity from his team and said they have prepared for tonight’s game by refocusing on their identity. Center back Sam Staab had a similar analysis.
“In the Orlando game we lost a bit of our edge from the start, and I think it’s kind of something that’s been snowballing for a few weeks now,” Staab said. “That’s something that’s so important to our team and how we play, and how we pin teams and keep teams in the places that we want them to be.”
Though they’re still in the top half of the table, San Diego are on a bit of a slide and haven’t won a game since June 6. Like the Spirit, they’re missing a number of their starters because of World Cup camps, but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy match for Washington. The Wave have plenty of talented players remaining and a strong identity that can make them difficult to overwhelm and force out of formation.
“We really respect San Diego. They’ve got a lot of quality,” Parsons said. “And we know they’re going to have a lot of energy in their home stadium.”
Key Player: Sam Staab
Sam Staab was one of the highlights of the Spirit’s performance last week, demonstrating her capacity for pinpoint-accurate long balls in an attempt to make something happen on defense. Also a major threat on set pieces, Staab will be relied upon to create chances this match.
Watch Out For: Jaedyn Shaw, Makenzy Doniak
Without Alex Morgan, forwards Jaedyn Shaw and Makenzy Doniak will be asked to shoulder more of the burden in the Wave’s attack. Shaw is the team’s leading remaining goalscorer, with 4 goals, 1 assist ,and 22 shots so far. Doniak is close behind her at 2 goals, 1 assist, and 19 shots.
Challenges: Can the Spirit gain some control in the midfield and create more than one path into the attacking third?
Previously: Washington defeated San Diego 3-1 at home earlier this season, holding the away side to 4 total shots.
San Diego Wave FC Availability:
Out: Abby Dahlkemper (SEI – back); Serre Enge (thigh); Kristen McNabb (hip)
Questionable: Taylor Kornieck (head)
International duty: Naomi Girma (USA); Sofia Jakobsson (SWE); Alex Morgan (USA); Kailen Sheridan (CAN); Emily van Egmond (AUS)
Washington Spirit Availability:
Out: Bayley Feist (D45 – lower leg); Anna Heilferty (SEI – knee); Tori Huster (SEI – lower leg); Civana Kuhlmann (knee)
International duty: Aubrey Kingsbury (USA); Trinity Rodman (USA); Ashley Sanchez (USA); Marissa Sheva (IRE); Andi Sullivan (USA); Riley Tanner (PAN)
Location: Snapdragon Stadium, San Diego, CA
Kickoff time: 10 p.m. ET
Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
Available TV: NBC Sports Washington
Available streaming: Paramount+