Spirit to Host Defending Champs in Home Opener Saturday
Germantown’s professional sports franchise, the Washington Spirit hope to get their first win of the very young NWSL season on Saturday as they host the defending National Women’s Soccer League Champions FC Kansas City.
The Spirit home opener will take place at 7:00 pm at Maureen Hendricks Field in the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds against FC Kansas City, who come to the Germantown area after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Sky Blue FC in Kansas City last week.
FC Kansas City boasts the firepower of United States Women’s National Team players Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez, Lauren Holiday, and Erika Tymrak.
“We are very excited to play in front of our own fans,” said Spirit Head Coach Mark Parsons. “This weekend we will be focused on being more dangerous with the ball and taking the game to Kansas. Playing against the champions is tough but I know we will be better and have full confidence we can put in a great performance.”
The Spirit also began the 2015 NWSL season, last Friday night with a 2-0 loss road loss to the Houston Dash and the possible loss of their captain Ali Kreiger for a few games to what was initially diagnosed as a mild concussion.
Krieger posted to social media on Saturday that she “will be okay” following the head injury she sustained after knocking heads with Dash forward Jessica McDonald in the 17th minute of the match. Krieger was stretchered off with a neck brace and she was initially diagnosed with a mild concussion. NWSL and USSF concussion protocols are being followed and she is being monitored.
The Spirit head coach reiterated what the Spirit released over the weekend regarding Kreiger’s injury, “She travelled back with the team, mild concussion and continues with testing this week,” said Parsons in an email.
“I’m very grateful for everyone who has reached out to me,” Krieger posted to sqor.com. “I truly appreciate the outpouring of support and I can’t thank my teammates, coaches and the entire soccer community for your kind words. I will be okay!”
The Dash victory was secured by a goal from midfielder Carli Lloyd in first half stoppage time and a goal from forward Kealia Ohai in the 50th minute.
Both sides started off the match with pace and the Spirit did well to possess and move the ball around the pitch while pushing forward through to the attacking third on occasion.
Spirit substitute Estelle Johnson came on the in the 25th minute to replace Krieger. At that point, the Dash began to take a bit more control of the game and mounted a series of attacks on the Spirit backline.
The Dash came out in the second half strong continuing to build on the momentum gained with Lloyd’s late goal. Houston doubled the lead in the 50th minute as Kealia Ohai capitalized on a defensive miscue and slipped her shot just under Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
Head coach Mark Parsons replaced Amanda Da Costa with Crystal Dunn in the 58th minute. Dunn, who primarily plays on the backline with the U.S. Women’s National team, played a different role in Friday’s game as she was one of the most dangerous attacking players on the pitch. In the 90th minute Dunn sent off a strong shot from inside the box, but her effort went across the face of goal.
The late burst of offensive pressure from the Spirit wasn’t enough to overcome the two goal deficit and the Dash were able to start off the season with a 2-0 home victory over the Spirit.
On Tuesday this week, Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Ali Krieger have both been named by Jill Ellis to the U.S. Women’s National Team roster for the 2015 World Cup.
“Firstly, I’m very honored and privileged to represent my country as a member of this incredible group of footballers,” said Krieger. “Second, I am extremely excited for another opportunity to win the World Cup. Having thought about our 2011 World Cup Final versus Japan for the past four years, it has driven me to continue to get better everyday to make sure we get back to the finals again this summer. This is something we have been working our entire lives for and therefore I feel very fortunate to be able to play on one of football’s biggest stages! We are well-prepared, motivated, determined and ready to succeed and I can’t wait!”
Ashlyn Harris shared similar sentiments on her inclusion in the World Cup roster explaining, “I’m overwhelmed with emotion at this point. Words can’t explain how honored I am to represent my country on the highest stage,” said Harris. “I’ve worked my whole life for this moment. I want to thank my family, friends, and my club for the constant support and encouragement to get me where I am today. There is no time to celebrate or rest at this point. My dream is to win a gold medal and I will do everything in my power to bring that home to our country.”
Washington Spirit season tickets for the 10 home matches are still available with packages starting as low as $170. Tickets for Saturday’s home opener are also available on the Washington Spirit website.
Top: Washington Spirit captain Ali Kreiger in action for the Spirit last season. Photo by Germantown Pulse.
Next: Spirit veteran Tori Huster (23) during last Friday's 2-0 loss verus the Houston Dash. Photo by Washington Spirit.