Fresh off a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars, Washington Spirit head north to face NJ/NY Gotham FC in what could be one of their closest match-ups of the season.

The Spirit and Gotham have a surprising amount in common. They finished 11th and 12th in the 2022 season, respectively, and, after bringing in new coaches Mark Parsons and Juan Carlos Amorós are now vying for a playoff spot with just 1 point separating them. Though they’ve spent much of this season in the top half of the table, both are also on winless streaks and in need of as many points as they can get with only 4 games remaining in the season.

Both teams are also integrating new international talent into their lineups. For Gotham, that means 2023 World Cup winner Esther González. The Spanish striker has scored 21 goals in her last 33 matches, including one at the World Cup, and adds more firepower to Gotham’s offense, just as its been decimated by injury.

Washington’s Ouley Sarr and Annaïg Butel have had a few weeks to work on communication with their new teammates. Improvement there could help the team create more dangerous chances – a necessity for a team that scored 0 goals despite 21 shots and an xG of 3.05 against Chicago.

Key Player: Trinity Rodman

With 7 of the Spirit’s 21 shots against Chicago and 5 of those on target, Trinity Rodman remains one of Washington’s most lethal attackers. In the new 4-3-3 formation, she has more freedom to move, swapping from a wing position to a more central one as needed to find openings, and the team is making it a priority to put her in the 1-v-2 situations where she shines.

Watch Out For: Lynn Williams

Though Gotham is stacked with big names, Lynn Williams stands above the rest. Williams leads her team with both goals (7) and assists (8), while also helping to shut down opposing attackers with her team’s highest tackle + interception stat at 57.

Challenges: The Spirit have one big challenge for this match: score some goals!!!

Previously: Washington and Gotham have met three times this year, drawing their regular season match 1-1. In the Challenge Cup, each team won one game, with the latest resulting in a 4-2 for the Spirit.

NJ/NY Gotham FC Availability:

Out: Imani Dorsey (excused absence); Kristen Edmonds (concussion); Allie Long (lower leg), Kristie Mewis (lower leg); Taylor Smith (thigh); Taryn Torres (SEI – knee); McCall Zerboni (SEI – knee)

Questionable: Kelley O’Hara (lower leg)

Washington Spirit Availability:

Out: Anna Heilferty (SEI – knee); Tori Huster (thigh); Civana Kuhlmann (SEI – knee);  Inès Jaurena (knee)

Questionable: None

Location: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ

Kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Referee: Adorae Monroy

Available TV: NBC Sports Washington

Available streaming: Paramount+

ByAnnie Elliott

Mostly writing about the Washington Spirit

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David Rusk

Annie. You should really highlight fact that Spirit match is on NBCSW for those of us who’ve never been able to hook up with Paramount +.

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