Washington Spirit at FC Kansas City (Verizon Wireless Field)
4:10pm E.T./3:10pm C.T.
FC Kansas City (5-4-1, 16 points) currently sits in fourth place following a 3-1 loss to visiting Chicago a week ago. Renae Cuellar bounced back from a left ankle and MCL sprain to give the Blues the lead in just the third minute of the match. The lead would not last as Chicago scored three unanswered goals to split the home-and-home series.
The Blue will see the return of their US and Canadian internationals as Nicole Barnhart, Lauren Cheney, Kristie Mewis, Becky Sauerbrunn, Lauren Sesselmann, and Desiree Scott all return to the team. Cheney is coming off of two goals in two matches for the US against South Korea and Mewis got her first international goal in front of her hometown crowd on June 15.
Barnhart and Mewis did not suit up for Team USA on Thursday night and should be rested for this afternoon’s match.
The Canadians are coming back from a much longer trip, having taken on Germany in Germany on June 19. Legs may be a factor as Saturday saw Sophie Schmidt come off the bench for Sky Blue FC and Christine Sinclair subbed off in the 73rd minute for Portland.
Casey Loyd and Courtney Jones both notched their first goals of the season in the first leg of the home-and-home against Chicago on June 13. Erika Tymrak has provided a spark for the Blues, scoring in two straight matches. If there is fatigue for the players coming off of national team duty, look for both to make an appearance today, especially with KC travelling to NJ to play Sky Blue FC midweek.
There are no major injuries for the Blues with goalkeeper Bianca Henninger (R. Hamstring Strain), defender Nia Williams (R. Ankle Sprain) and midfielder Sinead Farrelly (R. Quad Strain) all listed as probable.
The Washington Spirit (1-5-3) are coming off their third straight loss in a 2-0 defeat at home against the Western New York Flash on June 15. The Spirit struggled to get anything going offensively and while they had opportunities in the second half, were unable to capitalize on them.
The Spirit have been shutout of all three losses and have not scored since a May 16 win over Seattle where they got four goals from four different players.
German international Conny Pohlers should be available for the Spirit after being signed on June 11. Washington parted ways with midfielder Ingrid Wells in order to make space on the active roster for Pohlers.
The Spirit did get a strong debut from Toni Pressley who paired in the back with Tori Huster for the second half. Western New York did not get a shot on goal during the second half.
Ali Krieger and Robyn Gayle are both back from international duty and should see time on the backline. Krieger did not suit up for the United States on Thursday night.
The Spirit will be without Caroline Miller who remains out with a stress fracture in her ankle. In addition, recent signing Teresa Worbis and Canadian Diana Matheson are both out with ankle sprains.
The loss of Matheson is a major blow to a Spirit squad that has scored just nine goals – Matheson having scored nearly half of those goals with four.
This will be the first of two meetings between the two clubs this season. FC Kansas City needs a win to put some separation between them and Boston and Chicago who are tied in fifth with 12 points.
Washington needs a win if they want to start making a push towards the playoffs. They sit with six points, 10 points behind the fourth playoff spot with 12 matches after today to get it done.