Spirit Return to ‘Plex for Saturday Night Matchup With Portland
The Washington Spirit’s three-week hiatus between home games will come to an end on Saturday night when reigning NWSL champion Portland Thorns FC visits the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 pm with a live stream available on go90, as well as the NWSL website and mobile app.
The game will be the second of three meetings between Washington and Portland during the 2018 NWSL regular season, and first of two hosted by the Spirit. They will close out the season series on August 25 in the first ever women’s pro soccer match at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.
Washington and Portland played to a 1-1 draw in their first matchup at Providence Park in Portland, Ore. on April 20, as Spirit forward Francisca Ordega and Thorns forward Christine Sinclair exchanged goals late in the first half. Washington goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe made a critical save in the 87th minute, stopping a potential game-winning penalty kick off the foot of Lindsey Horan.
Returning home following a two-game road stint, Washington’s offense will aim to get back on track Saturday at Maureen Hendricks Field, where they have scored five of their seven total goals this season. Ordega (3 goals) and U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh (2 goals) have paced the Spirit attack throughout the season, particularly at home, where the duo has scored four of the club’s five goals.
On the defensive side, Bledsoe continues to lead the NWSL with a league-high 37 saves. Her high volume of saves has been matched by top-tier efficiency, as her save percentage (77%) ranks second in the league.
Meanwhile, Spirit defender Estelle Johnson ranks second in the NWSL with 45 clearances, and her partner at center back, Whitney Church, has racked up a team-high of six blocked shots.
Canadian international Rebecca Quinn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, made her second career start last weekend against the North Carolina Courage, playing the full 90 minutes on the Spirit back line. Her five interceptions led all players for both teams, as Washington limited North Carolina to one goal on the road.
Washington’s defense will be tasked with slowing down Sinclair, Horan and the rest of the Portland attacking unit which is tied for third in scoring with 11 goals. Sinclair leads the NWSL in both goals (5) and assists (3) entering the weekend.
This week, the Spirit signed forward Mallory Eubanks to her first professional contract, as Cali Farquharson placed on the 45-day disabled list. Eubanks, a 2018 NWSL College Draft second round pick from Mississippi State University, appeared in three games earlier this season as a National Team Replacement Player.
Washington and Portland both enter Saturday’s match seeking to snap their respective five-game winless streaks. The Spirit will aim to bounce back from their most recent 1-0 road loss against the Courage, while Thorns FC is coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Orlando Pride.
The Spirit will play its second home game in a span of five days on Wednesday, May 23 when the club hosts Sky Blue FC at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
Top: Spirit forward Mallory Pugh.
Next: Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe continues to lead the NWSL with a league-high 37 saves.
Next: Spirit defender Estelle Johnson ranks second in the NWSL with 45 clearances.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.