On Saturday, the Washington Spirit (4-9-4) took on the Boston Breakers (3-7-7). A win would have moved the Spirit into eighth place. Instead they came up with a 2-2 draw, dropping them back into last place in the league. While the Spirit has 16 points, the same number as the Boston Breakers, their larger negative goal differential, -7, puts them back on the bottom. It’s hard to see a team with a storied reputation for being formidable league leaders sitting at the bottom of the rankings.
The Spirit has played matches where it looks like they are going to turn a corner towards stringing some wins together. Most recently they played Sky Blue FC on Saturday, Aug. 4. They won that match 4-1. All four Spirit goals were in the second half showing off their physical stamina and mental willingness to play hard until the end.
Four days later, the team who had just crushed Sky Blue FC is playing the Orlando Pride in Orlando. Orlando, like Washington was coming into this match with only four days since their last match. The Pride controlled the pitch and left the Spirit with zero goals while scoring three of their own. Orlando added three points to their standings, the Spirit added none.
The Spirit have had a challenging season with injuries. Just when it seemed like the injury hex had expired for the season, Line Sigvardsen Jensen tore her ACL while playing for her homeland Danish team in the semifinals of the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO. Sigvard started in the first five of her team’s matches in the tournament. The fifth match against Austria was the one match too far for her knee. In the 68th minute she had to come off the field due to the injury. Sigvard will be out for the remainder of the National Women’s Soccer League season. Depending on the severity of the tear, she may not be back for the beginning of next season.
While the Spirit are in last place with 16 points, the top four teams in the NWSL in order, are North Carolina Courage (36 points), Portland Thorns (31 points), Chicago Red Stars (29 points), and the Orlando Pride (26 points).
While the Washington Spirit have the talent to be running with the leaders at the top of the league, they just cannot hang onto that synchronized play where everyone works as one. The team is still finding its footing with so many changes to the lineup. The Spirit does not need more high-dollar talent. They need to get the choreography of their play to meld smoothly and consistently as a team. When they pull this off, they get matches like the one against Sky Blue FC where they scored four goals in one half. When they do not, they get games like that last two, a loss and a draw.
The next match for the Spirit will be against the league leading North Carolina Courage on Aug. 19 in North Carolina. It is being broadcast live on Lifetime Television at 3:30 p.m. The following week on Aug. 26, the Spirit will host the Chicago Red Stars at Maureen Hendricks Field at the Soccerplex in Boyds.