The Washington Spirit will put their four week unbeaten streak on the line this Saturday, May 14 against a Houston Dash team that has not won in two weeks and will be missing superstar Carli Lloyd who is recovering from an MCL Sprain.
The Spirit currently remains atop the National Women’s Soccer League standings after four weeks. The Spirit and the Portland Thorns remain the only undefeated teams after ending their match last weekend against each other in a 0-0 draw.
“We aim to maintain and improve on the form the team displayed against Portland,” said general manager and head coach Jim Gabarra. “Houston gives us a very similar challenge, and we will need to have another excellent team performance as well as put our chances away to win.”
Last weekend the Spirit played a riveting and physical match against the Portland Thorns, which resulted in five yellow cards awarded by the end of the match. Spirit defender Megan Oyster fouled Tobin Heath outside the Spirit penalty box to earn the first card of the night. The Thorns earned the next four cards, including two awarded to U.S. Women’s National Team and Thorns forward Tobin Heath, resulting in her ejection from the game in the 88th minute.
The Spirit tallied an impressive 16 shots throughout the game, more than doubling the Thorns. Many of those came in the final minutes following Heath’s ejection, while one shot that went in the goal wasn’t counted as Washington’s Cystal Dunn was ruled offside when she smashed home a header in the first half from a pinpoint Ali Krieger cross.
2016 College Draft pick Cali Farquharson earned her first professional start against the Thorns and played 83 minutes at forward before giving way to Katie Stengel. Canadian goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé earned her third clean sheet of the season, keeping her in the first place amongst keepers in the NWSL for clean sheets alongside Chicago Red Stars and USWNT keeper Alyssa Naeher.
While USWNT midfielder Carli Lloyd will not play due an MCL sprain, former University of Virginia star and fellow USWNT midifielder Morgan Brian is scheduled to appear.
In Lloyd’s absence, other Dash players have stepped up to provide an offensive spark, including forward Chioma Ubogagu, who was voted the NWSL player of the week after scoring the winning goal against FC Kansas City. This is her first season with the Dash having joined from Arsenal Ladies in the off-season.
The two teams last met in August of 2015, when a franchise-first hat trick from 2015 NWSL Golden Boot winner Dunn lifted the Spirit to a 3-1 win. All three came in the first half, with assists from Diana Matheson and midfielder Christine Nairn. The lone goal for the Dash came in the 74th minute from forward Jessica McDonald, who now plays for the Western New York Flash.
Earlier this week, The Washington Spirit has named World Cup and Olympic Champion Briana Scurry the Honorary Captain of the team. Scurry will promote the National Women’s Soccer League, market the Washington Spirit organization, and share her wealth of experience and knowledge with the team’s players. Scurry, who was one of the founding players of U.S. women’s professional soccer in 2001, will utilize her position in the sports community to further develop the game.
Kick off for Washington Spirit vs Houston Dash is on Saturday May 14 at 7:00 pm at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Be part of the NWSL soccer experience by calling 301-337-8579 or visiting the Spirit website.
Top: The Spirit’s Diana Matheson (8)takes a shot, while being pressured by Portland’s defender Meghan Klingenberg (25).
Next: The Spirit’s captain, defender Ali Kreiger (11) stands over a direct kick during last Saturday’s game against Portland.
Next: Head Coach Jim Gabbara and the Washington Spirit gather after a physical and emotional 0-0 draw with Portland last week.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.