Week 6 in NWSL and new ground is about to be broken. To this point the Cascadia clubs have spent much of their time on the road, but now the Washington Spirit and Sky Blue FC are the first teams to make a two-city trip to the Pacific Northwest. They’ll both play Thursday night and then swap cities for Sunday matches.
Here is a quick look at what lies ahead with the two midweek matches:
Washington Spirit (0-2-3) at Seattle Reign FC (0-4-1)
Thursday, 10 pm EDT
Series: First meeting
Quick Look: Two of the three winless clubs in NWSL meet to kick off Cascadia Thursday. The Reign should be happy to get back on the field after what is widely considered the worst performance the league has seen so far. Worse still is the injury to Keelin Winters who is doubtful to play after leaving Saturday’s match against Sky Blue with an ankle injury. As for the Spirit they hit the road after yielding only two points from a stretch of four straight matches at home.
Tactical Short: Diana Matheson and Lori Lindsey were clicking well against the Breakers on the weekend and they could pose issues for a Reign backline that has been under siege of late, partially due to their own ability to play the ball out of the attacking third. Kaylyn Kyle in particular had far too many giveaways against Sky Blue and will need a better showing in the Reign’s second home match.
Sky Blue FC (3-1-1) at Portland Thorns FC (4-0-1)
Thursday, 10:30 pm EDT
Series: First meeting
Quick Look: This will be the first time NWSL teams meet with first place on the line. The Thorns have won four straight but have yet to beat any team that has any wins this season. Sky Blue played their best half of the season to go to the break 2-0 up on the Reign. A Thorns win will give them some breathing room atop the table while Sky Blue can take first on a tiebreaker and tighten things up among the top five.
Tactical Short: It will be interesting to see if Jim Gabarra elects to use Kelley O’Hara as a left back against the superb front line of the Thorns. In recent matches Sky Blue have been starting 18-year old Caitlin Foord and rookie Kendall Johnson at outside back. Brittany Bock made the trip and if her rib is recovered enough to let her back on the field it will open up some flexibility for Sky Blue to try and contain Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair.
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