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NWSL Week 6 preview: Lloyd returns from suspension

Carli Lloyd (10 in white) returns from suspension for the Flash's visit to the SoccerPlex (Photo Copyright Erica McCaulley for The Equalizer)

Western New York Flash (3-1-1) at Washington Spirit (2-4-0)
Maryland SoccerPlex
Saturday, 6:30 pm EDT
Series: Flash lead, 4-0-1 (1-0-0 in 2014)

In a rare match in which both teams figure to be well rested the Spirit get their second and final crack at the Flash on their home ground. The season opener saw them hang for about an hour before losing 3-1. The Flash will be getting Carli Lloyd back from suspension while the Spirit lost Toni Pressley for a lengthy period due to a torn PCL in her right knee. That will leave Mark Parsons scrambling to fill out a back line while the Spirit search for answers going forward as well.

What to watch for: Last week Sky Blue were barely able to test Flash keeper Kelsey Wys in her professional debut. Wys will get the nod again here and will be facing a group of Spirit forwards trying hard to get off the duck. Jodie Taylor has looked good but has neither a goal nor an assist. The tactical fascination is that both teams like to stretch the field wide, and the absence of the Flash’s Samantha Kerr (Asian Cup) could swing that advantage to the Spirit.

Houston Dash (1-5-0) at FC Kansas City (3-4-1)
Verizon Wireless Field at Durwood Stadium
Sunday, 6 pm EDT
Series: Kansas City lead, 1-0-0

The promising start to the season for the Dash has blown up to the tune of four straight losses, all by shutout. The worst of them was a 4-0 thrashing from FC Kansas City. The going will only get tougher with the action switching to KC this time around. The Dash did play better in a midweek loss to the Thorns, but outside of a few minute stretch in their lone win of the season, they have shown next to no signs they will be able to score goals consistently.

What to watch for: The Dash’s high-pressure style needs to be very efficient to deal with KC’s short passing, everyone touches the ball method of attacking. If the Dash are to have any chance they are going to need to hold the ball on Kansas City’s half of the field and be far more composed with final passes and finishing.

Chicago Red Stars (3-2-1) at Boston Breakers (1-4-0)
Harvard Stadium
Sunday, 6:30 pm EDT
Series: Red Stars lead, 2-1-0 (1-0-0 in 2014)

The Red Stars overcame an early mistake to explode for three goals in a win over the Breakers on Thursday. The had such a good time they decided to stay and try again here in a rare, two-match set between the same clubs at the same place. Breakers coaches and players were not pleased with the execution of the team on Thursday so we’ll see if that lights a fire under the team with the losses mounting and the frustration building.

What to watch for: The Breakers were a tentative bunch in the midweek match and they were barely able to take advantage of their speedy wing players. Both teams have speed edges when in their own attacking third so whoever can spend more time there should be able to dictate how this one turns out.

Not playing this weekend: Portland Thorns FC, Seattle Reign FC, Sky Blue FC

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