The Washington Spirit will make its first of two regular season visits to Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey this tonight, Friday, Aug 4 to take on Sky Blue FC. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm with a live stream available on the go90 mobile app and website.
Following an off week across the NWSL for an international break, the Spirit and Sky Blue will each take the field in league action for the first time since July 22. It will be the second of three total match-ups between the sides in the regular season, the first of which was a 4-3 victory for the Spirit on May 6 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
“We’ve had two good weeks of training in preparation for our match with Sky Blue FC,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “Sky Blue has had a very successful season so far and we look forward to another challenging fixture.”
Washington will look to bounce back from a 2-1 road loss against Portland Thorns FC in its most recent match, as a late surge by the home side erased the Spirit’s 1-0 lead. Havana Solaun netted her fourth goal of the season for the Spirit in the 58th minute against Portland, drawing even with Francisca Ordega for the team lead. Three of Solaun’s four goals have come on the road, and her home goal was scored last time out against Sky Blue FC, when she struck the net for her first score as a member of the club, finishing off a feed from Ordega.
Sky Blue is coming off another wild high scoring affair, a 5-4 road loss against Seattle Reign FC on July 22. After going down 4-0 by the 56th minute, Sky Blue stormed back to score four unanswered goals in a 15-minute stretch from the 60th to 75th minutes. However, Seattle struck again in the 87th minute for what proved to be the game-winner.
Two of the league’s top five goalkeepers in total saves, Washington’s Stephanie Labbé (59) and Sky Blue’s Kailen Sheridan (60), will be between the posts once again for their respective sides, each seeking their third clean sheets of the season.
Shelina Zadorksy has anchored the Spirit back line, leading the team with 70 clearances and 16 blocked shots, while playing all 1260 minutes of regular season action. Meanwhile, two-time NWSL Team of the Month selection Estelle Johnson leads the Spirit with 50 interceptions and 40 tackles attempted.
Sky Blue forward Samantha Kerr, who ranks second in the league in goals with 11, will miss Friday’s game as she returns from the Tournament of Nations with the Australia National Team. Sky Blue midfielder Kelley O’Hara and Washington forward Mallory Pugh will also miss the game after representing the USA in the event. Meanwhile, Spirit midfielder Line Sigvardsen Jensen is on international duty as well, representing Denmark in the UEFA Women’s EURO.
Despite Kerr and O’Hara’s absences, the Spirit defense will be tasked with slowing down the remainder of Sky Blue’s league leading attack, which has piled up 28 goals through 16 games. Midfielder Sarah Killion is second on the team with five goals, while midfielder Daphne Corboz and forward Maya Hayes are tied with Kerr for the team lead with three assists each.
This weekend’s trip to New Jersey will be the third of four consecutive road games for Washington. Following a midweek game in Orlando on Tuesday, August 8 against the Pride, the Spirit will return home to the Maryland SoccerPlex on August 12 to face the Boston Breakers.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.