The Washington Spirit begins a two-game homestand on Saturday night against Seattle Reign FC at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. with a live stream available on go90.
This will be the second game between the Spirit and Reign during the 2018 NWSL regular season. The two teams last played during the season opener on March 24 in Seattle, with Reign FC taking the game in a 2-1 result. Spirit midfielder Joanna Lohman netted the club’s first goal of the season in the 68th minute, playing in her first game back since recovering from a torn ACL in the 2017 NWSL season opener.
Washington and Seattle will meet again this weekend in their only matchup of the season at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
The Spirit returns home after earning a point on the road last Friday in New Jersey, playing to a scoreless draw against Sky Blue FC.
Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and defenders Whitney Church, Caprice Dydasco, Taylor Smith and Estelle Johnson combined for their third clean sheet of the season, including two in the last four games. Bledsoe stopped all seven shots on goal for the shutout against Sky Blue FC, bringing her league-leading save total to 57.
Washington will benefit from a bolstered roster heading into Saturday’s match, as four players - Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), Rebecca Quinn (Canada), Rose Lavelle (USA) and Yanara Aedo (Chile) - return after representing their respective countries during the FIFA Window.
Ordega and Ashley Hatch, who have recorded three goals each, will lead the Spirit’s offensive push to end the team’s two-game scoreless streak as they face Reign goalkeeper Lydia Williams. The Reign goalkeeper and her back line have held opponents to only one goal during her four starts this season.
After holding opponents to two goals halfway through the month of June, Washington’s defense will look to slow down a Reign attack highlighted by Megan Rapinoe. The U.S. National Team player has tallied five goals and one assist in six games this season, with two of those goals coming on the road. Seattle also has multi-goal scorers in U.S. international Allie Long (2 goals), English international Jodie Taylor (3 goals, 1 assist) and Beverly Yanez (2 goals).
The Spirit will be without the services of USWNT superstar Mallory Pugh. It was announced last week that Pugh has been sidelined for eight to ten weeks due to a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain in her right knee that she suffered near the end of the Spirit’s match against the Houston Dash on May 27.
During the latter part of that healing period, Pugh will begin the return to play process.
“This isn’t the greatest time to get an injury like this, but with the support of medical staffs from U.S. Soccer and the Spirit, as well as from my teammates and the fans, I’ll be back on the field as soon as possible,” Pugh said. “Now, my job is to rehab and I’m going to be really focused on that process.”
Washington goes into Saturday’s game against Reign FC trying to snap a three-game winless streak. Meanwhile, Seattle will look to hold on to second place in the NWSL table.
The Spirit will finish up the two-game home stand against the Orlando Pride on Saturday June 23 in the NWSL Game of the Week, which will be nationally televised on ESPNEWS at 7:00 pm.
Top: Washington Spirit defender Estelle Johnson (24) makes and great tackle.
Next: Francisca Ordega returns to the Spirit this week after duty with the Nigerian National team.
Next: Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe looks for her fourth clean sheet of the season.
Next: Forward Mallory Pugh will miss eight- to ten-weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.