Wednesday, July 1 – 8 p.m. PT, 10 p.m. EST, 3 a.m BST
Zions Bank Stadium, Utah
Watch: CBS All Access, Twitch
The names Spirit and Courage could not be more befitting of these two squads, as both play with an abundance of both. And with both clubs coming off of opening day wins, this game promises to be one-to-watch.
Both clubs got off to winning starts with their respective 2-1 wins over the Red Stars and the Thorns. After such a long break, both teams were just glad to be out on the field again. Spirit head coach, Richie Burke told CBS 'it was just good to be out playing, and we’ve got a lot of things we can go and look at and try and get better as we move forward.’ Now both teams have a game under their belts they will undoubtedly be feeling confident about their chances in this tournament.
The Spirit will have been glad just to get through the game without any new injury concerns, which is more than can be said for the Courage. Rookie forward Ally Watt left her NWSL debut barely 10 minutes in. Unfortunately, news has broken that the forward seems to her torn her ACL. Which will mean a lengthy lay-off for the former Aggie. We certainly wish her a speedy recovery. The Courage will also be hoping that start forward Jessica McDonald is available again soon, though this game may come a bit too early. McDonald missed the win over the Thorns with a right hamstring injury. Merritt Mathias is still inactive.
The Spirit are still likely to be sans Crystal Thomas, though they hope to have her back fit and ready for their game against Portland. The Spirit do have doubts over Newcomers Brooke Hendrix (ankle) and Jaye Boissiere (hip). Boissiere might be fit enough to face the Courage. Hendrix's prognosis looks uncertain, however, after the rookie rolled her ankle in training. The team are taking her case day by day.
The Washington Spirit are that rarest of team in the NWSL, that can boast about having bested the Courage in their latest meeting. In the last meeting between the two teams at Maureen Hendricks Field Maryland SoccerPlex, the Spirit won the game 2-1. That is, despite North Carolina being the better side on the day. Lynn Williams recorded her 50th NWSL goal to put the Courage up 1-0, but a late equalizer by Rose Lavelle rendered the score 1-1. Mallory Pugh scored the Spirit’s second goal shortly after to secure the 3 points for the home team.
Key match up
Rose Lavelle vs Denise O'Sullivan
It’s hard to believe that Rose Lavelle is only 25, when you consider the maturity she plays with. It feels as though the USWNT star has been around forever. It’s also hard to believe she has only scored twice for the Spirit, in 18 games. By comparison Lavelle has scored 12 times in 45 games at international level. Now that Lavelle can fully commit to the Spirit, it seems inevitable that this club will begin to see her best form.
In this match the talismanic Lavelle will be up against defensive midfielder Denise O'Sullivan. The Republic of Ireland international had a superb game for the Courage on opening day. The tough tackling midfielder is key to everything North Carolina does, something which was epitomised by the winning goal. It was O’Sullivan that won the ball back and started the move that led to Lynn Williams' game winner. This battle will be the key to victory for either team.
Goalkeepers (3): Aubrey Bledsoe, Devon Kerr, Katie Lund
Defenders (8): Tegan McGrady, Sam Staab, Paige Nielsen, Jenna Hellstrom, Brooke Hendrix, Tori Huster, Kaiya McCullough (CDP), Natalie Jacobs (CDP)
Midfielders (8): Dorian Bailey, Jaye Boisierre, Jordan DiBiasi, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Rose Lavelle (FED-USA), Meghan McCool, Jessie Scarpa, Andi Sullivan
Forwards (7): Averie Collins (CDP), Bayley Feist, Ashley Hatch, Katie McClure (CDP), Ashley Sanchez (CDP), Crystal Thomas, Kumi Yokoyama
North Carolina Courage
Goalkeepers (3): Stephanie Labbé (FED-CAN), Samantha Murphy, Katelyn Rowland
Defenders (11): Lindsay Agnew, Abby Dahlkemper (FED-USA), Jaelene Daniels, Abby Erceg, Hailey Harbison, Kaleigh Kurtz, Hailie Mace, Merritt Mathias (45-Day DL), Addisyn Merrick (CDP), Sinclaire Miramontez (CDP), Ryan Williams
Midfielders (7): Debinha (INT), Crystal Dunn (FED-USA), Samantha Mewis (FED-USA), Lauren Milliet, Denise O'Sullivan (INT), Cari Roccaro, Meredith Speck
Forwards (5): Kristen Hamilton, Jessica McDonald, McKenzie Meehan, Ally Watt (CDP), Lynn Williams
By Dan Berridge
Photo Credit: Nikki Flores @ Footy Day Photos