Washington Spirit to host Portland Thorns FC at Audi Field on August 25

 Photo credit: DC United

Photo credit: DC United

The Washington Spirit will host reigning National Women’s Soccer League Champion Portland Thorns FC in the first ever women’s professional soccer game at Audi Field - D.C. United’s brand new state-of-the-art stadium in downtown Washington, D.C. - on Saturday, August 25 at 7 p.m. ET.

Just over five weeks after D.C. United debuts the new venue with their first MLS match on July 14, the Spirit and Thorns will compete in the first women’s professional soccer game played in the District of Columbia since the Washington Freedom’s final showing at RFK Stadium in 2010.

The matchup at Audi Field will be the penultimate game of the 2018 NWSL regular season for both Washington and Portland, and could hold major playoff implications.

“It’s really special for us to come full circle and have women’s pro soccer in downtown D.C. again,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “It’s a big opportunity to showcase the best women’s soccer in the world in the world’s newest stadium.”

Audi Field, the first soccer specific stadium to be constructed in the District, will feature a total capacity of 20,000 seats, 1,500 club seats, 31 luxury suites and a bike valet along with 500,000 total square feet of mixed-use retail and residential space on site.

“We’re excited to host the Washington Spirit at our new home at Audi Field in August,” said D.C. United president of business operations Tom Hunt. "Our plan from the beginning was to build a stadium that serves as a home for soccer in the nation's capital and we hope this game is so successful that it leads to more Washington Spirit fixtures at Audi Field in the future.”

Along with being home to D.C. United - the most decorated franchise in U.S. soccer history and D.C.’s most championed professional team - Audi Field will also host a variety of other sporting and cultural events. The Spirit and Thorns will be among the first to take center stage at D.C.’s newest landmark, showcasing the NWSL in the nation’s capital.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our D.C. fans who haven’t been out to the Plex recently, to see how far women’s professional soccer has come,” said 2017 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and Spirit assistant coach Briana Scurry. “It’s great to have women’s pro soccer back in D.C. and to give more fans a chance to see us first hand.”

Washington Spirit and D.C. United 2018 Season Ticket Holders will have first selection for tickets to the game, starting on Tuesday, May 1. The game is included as part of the 12-game home schedule for Spirit Season Ticket Holders. D.C. United Season Ticket Holders will also be a part of the exclusive Season Ticket Holder Presale, which runs from May 1-6.

Additional early access to tickets will be available from May 7-13, as the presale extends to the following groups: Fans who have purchased at least one single game ticket to a 2018 Washington Spirit home game, members of Washington Spirit Youth Club Partners and Community Partners, all official Spirit and D.C. United supporters groups, and large groups of 25 or more. Current Audi Field Suite Holders will have until May 15 to book their suites for the game, with any remaining offered for sale thereafter through the Spirit ticket office.

Fans interested in accessing the presale who don’t qualify per the above, can still get access by completing a five-question survey. [SURVEY]

Everyone taking advantage of the two presale periods will have access to tickets for $10 off the public sale prices. Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public starting on Monday, May 14.

Fans interested in purchasing Youth Group Experiences or renting Audi Field Suites should contact the Washington Spirit sales office at: 301-591-0927.

Complete details on ticketing options is available on the Spirit’s FAQ page. [FAQ]

Washington Spirit Set to Host First Place North Carolina Courage on Saturday Night

 Photo Credit: Washington Spirit

Photo Credit: Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit will host the first place North Carolina Courage on Saturday night for the first of three regular season meetings between the clubs. Kickoff is set for 7:00 for North Carolina’s only visit to the Maryland SoccerPlex this season. [TICKETS]

Saturday’s game will feature the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the National Women’s Soccer League standings heading into the third week of play. Washington is coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Orlando Pride in its home opener on March 31, while first place North Carolina is the only team in the NWSL that has not allowed a goal through its first two games.

U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch, who earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 as a member of the Courage, netted her first goal as a member of the Spirit in the home opening victory, powering home an 88th minute strike to put the game out of reach.

Another USA forward, Mallory Pugh, claimed NWSL Player of the Week honors after netting the game-winner against Orlando on a breakaway strike through the legs of Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Pugh, Hatch and the rest of the Spirit attack will seek to become the first offense to break through with a goal against the tough Carolina back line. The Courage are coming off back-to-back 1-0 wins in their first two games, against Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC.

“We have to play to our tempo,” said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra. “We’re playing against a very strong and physical athletic opponent that’s very good at the way they play. We’ve got to come in and instill our style of play and get three points here at home.”

The Washington attack has posted the second-most shots on goal through the first two weeks with 12, while the Courage defense - led by March 2018 NWSL Team of the Month selection Jaelene Hinkle - has only allowed one shot on goal to reach goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo.

On the defensive side, Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe enters the game leading the league in saves with 14 through her first two appearances with the club. Bledsoe has also the third-best save percentage at 88%.

Spirit captain Estelle Johnson is anchoring the back line once again this season, leading the league in clearances while also succeeded on all of her slide tackle attempts through the first two games.

Bledsoe, Johnson and the rest of Washington’s defensive unit will be tasked with slowing down a Courage attack featuring U.S. internationals Crystal Dunn and Lynn Williams, along with Jessica McDonald, who scored a stoppage time game-winner in their last game against Sky Blue FC.

Following Saturday’s home game, the Spirit will travel to face Portland Thorns FC for a Friday night match on April 20 at Providence Park.

Single game tickets for the Washington Spirit’s regular season home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927

Washington Spirit earns 2-0 win over Orlando Pride in 2018 NWSL Home Opener

 Photo: Washington Spirit

Photo: Washington Spirit

A pair of late second half goals propelled the Washington Spirit to a 2-0 victory over the Orlando Pride on Saturday afternoon, with 4,989 fans on hand at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Mallory Pugh’s breakaway strike in the 80th minute and Ashley Hatch’s 88th minute goal, paired with a clean sheet effort by Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledose and the back line resulted in Washington’s first win of the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League regular season in the club’s home opener.

After 79 minutes of scoreless soccer, Pugh netted what proved to be the game-winner, with Hatch providing the assist. After receiving the pass from Hatch, the 19-year-old U.S. international forward burst into the box and nutmegged Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for her seventh career NWSL goal. [WATCH]

Just eight minutes later, Hatch sealed the game with a close range, unassisted strike from the center of the box, finishing into the bottom left corner of the net. [WATCH]

Washington controlled 55 percent of the possession and outshot Orlando 7-3 in the first half, while the Pride recorded the only two shots on frame of the opening period. Both resulted in saves by Bledsoe.

In the second half, U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan notched Washington’s first shot on target in the 58th minute. Sullivan’s right-footed shot from 35 toward the center of the goal, leading to Harris’ first save of the afternoon.

The Spirit found the net twice in the second period despite Orlando controlling 60.4 percent of the possession. Throughout the course of the game, Washington and Orlando each recorded 14 shots, with three on target for the Spirit and four on frame for the Pride.

Spirit defenders Caprice Dydasco, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church and U.S. international Taylor Smith all played the full 90 minutes on the back line in the club’s first shutout of the young season.

Following the upcoming FIFA international break, Washington will return to NWSL action on Saturday, April 14 for a home game against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:00 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex. [TICKETS]

-NWSL Match Report-

Match: Washington Spirit vs. Orlando Pride
Date: March 31, 2018

Venue: Maryland Soccerplex
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 4,989

Weather: Sunny, Low 60s

Scoring Summary:

Goals                                             1          2          F

Washington (1-1-0, 3 pts)            0          2          2

Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 pt)           0          0          0

WAS – Mallory Pugh (Ashley Hatch) 80’
WAS – Ashley Hatch 88’

Lineups:

Washington Spirit: Aubrey Bledsoe, Estelle Johnson, Taylor Smith, Caprice Dydasco, Whitney Church, Havana Solaun (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 68’), Andi Sullivan, Rebecca Quinn (Joanna Lohman 56’), Ashley Hatch, Mallory Pugh, Francisca Ordega (Mallory Eubanks 87’)

Substitutes Not Used: Morgan Proffitt, Kelsey Wys, Tori Huster, Tiffany Weimer

Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris, Shelina Zadorsky, Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger, Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt (Bridget Callahan 90’), Christine Nairn, Chioma Ubogagu (Danica Evans 74’), Kristen Edmonds, Sydney Leroux

Substitutes Not Used: Abby Elinsky, Nádia Gomes, Lotta Okvist, Christine Creighton, Haley Kopmeyer

Stats Summary: WAS / ORL
Possession: 47.8 / 52.2 %
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 7 / 5
Offside: 2 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
WAS – Whitney Church (Yellow Card) 44’

Officials:
Referee: Matthew Franz
Assistant Referee 1: Adrienne McDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Karl Kummer

Washington Spirit hosting Orlando Pride on Saturday in 2018 NWSL Home Opener

 Photo: Washington Spirit

Photo: Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit will host the Orlando Pride on Saturday in the club’s 2018 National Women’s Soccer League home opener at the Maryland SoccerPlex. National television coverage for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET, and kickoff is set for 3:50. [TICKETS]

Saturday’s home-opener will be the first of three meetings between Washington and Orlando this season, two of which will be played at the Maryland Soccerplex. Both sides will be looking for their first win of 2018, as Washington fell 2-1 on the road to Seattle Reign FC in their season opener on March 24, and Orlando played Utah Royals FC to a 1-1 draw.

During the club’s season opener in Seattle, the Spirit fell behind 2-0 in the first half, but went on to record seven shots on goal, while holding over 55 percent of the possession time in the second half. Midfielder Joanna Lohman netted Washington’s first goal of the season in the 68th minute in her first game back from an ACL injury sustained in the Spirit’s 2017 regular season opener last April.

“We’re looking to build off the second half in Seattle, where I thought we were a lot better,” said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra. “We’ve been really happy with the week of training, and we’re looking forward to getting out to the SoccerPlex in front of the Spirit Squadron.”

Saturday’s game is expected to be the home debut for 2018 NWSL College Draft No. 1 overall pick and U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan, who played the full 90 minutes during her professional debut on March 24 in a road game against Seattle Reign FC.

Canadian international defender/midfielder Rebecca Quinn, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, is expected to make her pro debut during Saturday’s home opener.

Two more U.S. internationals, defender Taylor Smith and forward Ashley Hatch, each played the full 90 minutes in their Spirit debuts last weekend in Seattle, and will suit up Saturday for their first home game at the SoccerPlex.

Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who racked up 10 saves in her Spirit debut, will go up against her former team for the first time, after being traded to Washington in the offseason.

Washington will be without forward/midfielder Estefania Banini, who recorded the club’s first assist of the 2018 season last week in Seattle. Banini (Argentina) and forward/midfielder Yanara Aedo (Chile) will both miss the game for international duty. The Spirit signed rookie forward Mallory Eubanks - a second round pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft - as a National Team Replacement Player this week.

Meanwhile, Orlando’s Alanna Kennedy (Australia), Marta (Brazil), Monica (Brazil), Poliana (Brazil) and Emily van Egmond (Australia) are also out this weekend for international duty. The Pride announced three National Team Replacement Player signings this week: midfielders Abby Elinsky and Christine Creighton, and forward Nádia Gomes.

The Spirit and Pride will go head-to-head Saturday in the first of three NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime matches being played at the Maryland SoccerPlex this season. The nationally televised match-up between Washington and Orlando at the SoccerPlex sold out in 2017, and this Saturday is expected to feature another packed house at the SoccerPlex’s Maureen Hendricks Field.

Single game tickets for the Spirit’s regular season home games, including their March 31 home opener against the Orlando Pride, are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927.

Washington Spirit signs Mallory Eubanks as National Team Replacement Player​

IMG_3518.JPG

The Washington Spirit has signed forward Mallory Eubanks as a National Team Replacement Player. Eubanks will serve as national team replacement while defender Estefania Banini is away with the Argentina Women’s National Team competing in the Copa America Feminina.

Washington selected Eubanks with the sixth pick of the 2nd round (No. 16 overall) in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. The 21-year-old forward finished her college career in 2017 at Mississippi State University ranked second in program history with 17 assists.

Eubanks scored the Spirit’s first goal of the 2018 preseason, netting an 87th minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw against the University of North Carolina on March 10.

National Team Replacement players can be signed when a National Team Player is away on international duty and will not count against the team’s 20-player roster limit. More information on National Team Player Replacements can be found here.

Tickets for all 2018 Washington Spirit home games are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com.

Washington Spirit falls to Seattle Reign in regular season opener

 Photo: Washington Spirit

Photo: Washington Spirit

The Washington Spirit (0-1-0, 0 pts) fell 2-1 to Seattle Reign FC (1-0-0, 3 pts) on Saturday night to open the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League regular season.

After falling behind by two goals in the first half, Washington battled back to cut Seattle’s lead down to one in the 68th minute, when midfielder Joanna Lohman found the net off an assist from Argentine international Estefania Banini.

Lohman’s second half strike came following a quick pass from U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh to Banini near the top of the box, before Banini weaved another short pass in to Lohman, who made a quick turn and fired a shot which hit the inside of the far post and over the goalline. [WATCH]

Lohman, who entered as a substitute for Tori Huster at the start of the second half, played in her first regular season game since recovering from a torn ACL, sustained in the Spirit’s 2017 season opener last April.

Huster, who started the game in the midfield, notched her 100th regular season appearance with the Spirit.

Seattle found the net twice in the opening half, before the Washington defense held the Reign off the board the entire second half.

U.S. international forward Megan Rapinoe had a hand in both goals, starting with her own strike off a free kick in the seventh minute. Rapinoe went on to assist Jodie Taylor’s goal in the 35th minute, doubling Seattle’s lead heading into halftime.

After mustering only two shots on target in the first 45 minutes, Washington racked up seven in the second half, while holding over 55 percent of the possession time.

Saturday’s game also marked the professional debut of U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. Sullivan played the full 90 minutes in the Spirit midfield, recording three total shots, two of which were on frame.

Sullivan tied with Pugh, Lohman and U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch for the team lead with two shots on goal each.

Also making her Spirit debut, goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe piled up 10 saves on the night.

Single game tickets for the Spirit’s regular season home games, including their March 31 home opener against the Orlando Pride, are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927.

-NWSL Match Report-

Match: Washington Spirit at Seattle Reign FC
Date: March 24, 2018
Venue: UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium
Kickoff: 10 p.m. ET
Weather: Mid-40s, calm

Scoring Summary:

Goals                                         1          2          F

Washington (0-1-0)                  0          1          1

Seattle Reign FC (1-0-0)          2          0          2

 

SEA - Megan Rapinoe, 7th minute

SEA - Jodie Taylor (Megan Rapinoe), 35th minute

WAS - Joanna Lohman (Estefania Banini), 68th minute

 

Lineups:

Washington Spirit: 1-Aubrey Bledsoe; 3-Caprice Dydasco, 5-Whitney Church, 24-Estelle Johnson (c), 7-Taylor Smith; 8-Meggie Dougherty Howard (Francisca Ordega, 62’), 23-Tori Huster (15-Joanna Lohman, 46’), 6-Andi Sullivan; 33-Ashley Hatch; 10-Estefanía Banini; 11-Mallory Pugh

Substitutes Not Used: 9-Havana Solaun, 27-Yanara Aedo, 12-Morgan Proffitt, 21-DiDi Haracic

Seattle Reign FC: 18-Michelle Betos; 3-Lauren Barnes, 20-Rumi Utsugi, 4-Megan Oyster, 8-Theresa Nielsen; 17-Beverly Yanez (12-Morgan Andrews, 77’), 6-Allie Long, 10-Jessica Fishlock; 14-Jodie Taylor, 9-Nahomi Kawasumi (22-Jasmyne Spencer, 62’), 15-Megan Rapinoe (c)

Substitutes Not Used: 21-Christen Westphal, 38-Adelaide Gay, 11-Elizabeth Addo, 26-Maddie Bauer

Stats Summary: WAS / SEA
Possession: 52.9% / 47.1%
Shots: 17 / 24
Shots on Goal: 9 / 12
Saves: 10 / 8
Corner Kicks: 1 / 4
Fouls: 8 / 15
Offside: 1 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
WAS - Morgan Andrews (Yellow Card) 90’

Officials:
Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva
Assistant Referee 1: Alicia Messer
Assistant Referee 2: Dan Stupca
Fourth Official: Levi Rippy

Washington Spirit Hits West Coast to Face Seattle Reign FC in NWSL Regular Season Opener

 Photo: NWSLsoccer.com

Photo: NWSLsoccer.com

The Washington Spirit will open the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League regular season on Saturday night with a road game against Seattle Reign FC. Kickoff from UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium is set for 10 p.m. ET with a live stream available on go90.

Saturday’s season-opener will be the first of three meetings between Washington and Seattle this season, two of which will be played in the Pacific Northwest. The Spirit and Reign both enter the 2018 campaign with several new weapons on their roster.

“Seattle is always a really difficult place to play,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “There’s a couple teams that have made a lot of changes [in the offseason]. We’re one of them and I think Seattle has as well. We’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

Washington is set to debut a new-look roster, which includes the additions of four U.S. Women’s National Team players and several other key offseason acquisitions.

In a trade with the North Carolina Courage announced on January 16, Washington acquired U.S. Women’s National Team defender Taylor Smith and U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch, who was named the 2017 NWSL Rookie of the Year after scoring seven goals in her debut season.

Just days later, the Spirit selected U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan with the top overall pick in the 2018 NWSL College Draft, and Canadian international defender/midfielder Rebecca Quinn with the third overall pick.

On January 30, Washington selected U.S. international midfielder Rose Lavelle with the No. 1 pick in the NWSL Dispersal Draft. It was the fifth acquisition of a U.S. or Canadian international player under the age of 25 by the Spirit in a two-week span.

With Quinn, five total U.S. internationals including forward Mallory Pugh - who led the Spirit with six goals as a rookie in 2017 - as well as returning midfielders Yanara Aedo (Chile) and Estefania Banini (Argentina), and forward Francisca Ordega (Nigeria), the Spirit roster feature nine total players who are members of their respective national teams.

Just a few of the team’s additional key returning players include: defender Estelle Johnson, who was named to the NWSL Team of the Month twice in 2017; midfielder Havana Solaun, who scored five goals and led the team with four assists in her first season with the club; and midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, who led the team in passing as a rookie.