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NWSL week 11 preview: Who can overcome roster gaps

Washington Spirit (2-7-2) at Sky Blue FC (0-8-1)
Friday, 7:00 p.m. EDT, Yurcak Field
All-time series:  Spirit lead, 8-7-2

It’s no secret both teams are desperate for a win. Sky Blue still seeks their first of the season, only taking one point out of nine games, while Washington fares slightly better with eight points out of eleven matches, but with only four points separating the rest of the teams sans North Carolina, they’re falling further and further behind. In fact, no result will change either team’s place on the table. It’s also no secret that these rosters are about as thin as they come. The Spirit have four on international duty, five out, and three available but battling injury, meaning National Team replacement player Maddie Huster (sister of Tori, questionable with right groin soreness) is likely to see minutes. Sky Blue has six on international duty, three questionable, and Jen Hoy out.

  • Sprit injuries: OUT — Mallory Eubanks, Cali Farquharson, Mallory Pugh, Arielle Ship, Havana Solaun; QUE — Ashley Hatch, Tori Huster, Kelsey Wys; INT — Yanara Aedo, Rose Lavelle, Francisca Ordega, Rebecca Quinn
  • Sky Blue injuries: OUT — Jen Hoy; QUE — Amanda Frisbie, Raquel Rodriguez, Erica Skroski; INT — Janine Beckie, Adriana Leon, Carli Lloyd, Savannah Jordan, Thaisa Moreno, Rebekah Stott

Sky Blue is in the biggest trouble on defense, where out of their normal back four only Mandy Freeman is both healthy and in the country. Domi Richardson filled in last week when Amanda Frisbie left with an injury and did fairly well, which is a plus. The pressure is on on the other end of the pitch as well, where Katie Johnson and Madison Tiernan will shoulder the scoring burdens. In between, they need Sarah Killion to link up play and have her best game all season. Sky Blue has had a rough season even when they have all their starters; with so many forced changes, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

Washington is going to look to Andi Sullivan to run their midfield, and with her USWNT snub fresh in her mind, perhaps that will be her motivation to step up. With Kelsey Wys questionable, Aubrey Bledsoe, still leading the league with saves, ought to return in net. Their big question comes on the front line, with all their strikers who have seen significant minutes on the injury report. Taylor Smith could play up top again, although with Rebecca Quinn out, she may have to return to right back to allow Estelle Johnson to slide central again. Mallory Eubanks will be another option. Recent history, at least, is on the Spirit’s side – they beat Sky Blue 1-0 a few weeks ago.

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