The Washington Spirit defeated Kansas City NWSL in its nineteenth match of the 2021 NWSL regular season this evening, 2-1.
Heading into its first match in 28 days, the Spirit lineup had quite the shakeup. Reflected in the lineup change was a move to the forward position by Kelley O’Hara, a shift from forward to midfield by Ashley Sanchez, and the addition of Julia Roddar at left back. Spirit attacker Ashley Hatch was not available for today’s match. Many of the alterations made to the starting eleven, including the omission of Trinity Rodman from a starting role, came in preparation for the Spirit’s four-game stretch in the next fourteen days.
The Spirit kicked off the action in the 5’ with a goal-scoring attempt by Kumi Yokoyama inside the box that missed by only inches. Kansas City NWSL wasted no time, though, as Darian Jenkins connected on a ball assisted by Victoria Pickett in the 8’ to break the tie.
The ensuing action was largely a struggle for possession with either team failing to draw any real scoring chances. Sanchez took a scary fall after colliding with KC goalkeeper Arianna Franch, but returned to action minutes later. Aubrey Bledsoe was also quite active, making a pair of crucial saves in the 29’ and 31’.
However, the first half’s action peaked in the final minute of extra time when O’Hara drew a yellow card and penalty kick. Captain Andi Sullivan took and executed the penalty kick nestling the ball in the left corner of the goal past Franch, equalizing the contest going into halftime.
After a four-player mass substitution, the Spirit picked up right where they left off in the second half. Only seconds into the second half, Tara McKeown broke the tie, recording her first professional goal.
With fresher legs, the Spirit increased its offensive output from the first half, tallying multiple shots — including two on goal — and keeping Franch busy. Rodman put on a dazzling display of footwork, breaking free for an open shot that sailed just wide of the goal.
Ultimately, Kansas City had its back against the wall for much of the second half, struggling to keep possession of the ball and generate any scoring attempts. With the exception of a single shot saved by Bledsoe, Kansas City generated zero scoring chances. Accordingly, the Spirit controlled nearly 55% of the possession in today’s match and only allowed two Kansas City shots in the second half.
Neither team would score again, allowing the Spirit to collect its first win at Segra Field this season and secure its playoff-eligible spot at sixth position in the NWSL standings heading into the new week.
For their next league fixture, the Spirit travel south to face the North Carolina Courage on Friday, October 1 at 7:00 pm ET which will be broadcast live on Paramount+ (USA) and Twitch (International).
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