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Spirit Hope to Extend Home Unbeaten Streak as They Host Chicago on Saturday

The Washington Spirit will look to extend its home unbeaten streak to five games on Saturday night when the team plays host to the Christen Press, Julie Ertz and the Chicago Red Stars at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm with a live stream available on go90.

The Spirit have earned points in each of their past four games at the Maryland SoccerPlex, dating back to June 3. “We’re all looking forward to playing back at home in front of our fans and the Spirit Squadron,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “We’ve had a really long stretch of a lot of away games so it’s going to give us a lot of confidence to go on a run in the last quarter of the season.”

In their first match-up of the season back on June 17 at Toyota Park in Chicago, the Spirit and Red Stars played to a 1-1 draw. Nigerian international forward Francisca Ordega scored her third goal of the season on an assist from Cheyna Williams in the 42nd minute to give the Spirit a 1-0 halftime lead, but U.S. international Christen Press earned and converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute to equalize for the Red Stars.

Press, who is fourth in the NWSL with nine goals on the season, has scored three goals against the Spirit since the start of 2016, her second-most against any team over that span. She and recently-signed Japanese international Yūki Nagasato, who has scored 58 goals in international play since 2004, will pose a healthy challenge for the Spirit defense.

“Chicago is a very difficult team to play against, they’re a physical team and they now have two quality world international forwards up front with Press and Yūki,” Gabarra said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us defensively to stay disciplined and committed to our style of play.”

Offensively for Washington, Havana Solaun continues to lead the team in goals with five, and she is tied with Ordega for a team-high in assists with three. Five Spirit players have scored at multiple goals this season for the team’s balanced attack, including Solaun (5), Ordega (4), Cheyna Williams (3), U.S. international Mallory Pugh (3) and defender Estelle Johnson (2).

On the defensive side, Johnson ranks second in the NWSL in interceptions with 60 through her first 18 appearances this season. Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé enters the weekend sixth in the league with 66 saves.

For the Red Stars, U.S. international midfielder Julie Ertz is third in the league with 59 interceptions. U.S. internationa