Washington Spirit vs. Angel City FC - Four Takeaways
The Washington Spirit fell 1-0 to Angel City FC (ACFC) on Sunday in a disappointing performance in front of their home crowd. Christen Press was the lone goalscorer with an arching shot that blew over the head of Aubrey Kingsbury. Here are some takeaways for both teams:
1. Aubrey Kingsbury is still good
Despite not keeping a clean sheet, Aubrey Kingsbury’s goalkeeping prowess was on full display this match. Press’ goal was so well-placed (and conveniently originating from behind Morgan Goff) that any goalkeeper would have little chance of saving it. The goal aside, Kingsbury continued to impress with a save in the 54th minute to deny Savannah McCaskill’s clever chip. Had she been as off-kilter as her teammates seem to have been in this match, the scoreline could have easily read 2-0 or 3-0.
2. ACFC’s Unity
The Angel City team that came out against the Spirit today was cohesive and hungry for a win. The offensive press was clearly a team effort as much as their defensive effort was. Any time an attacking player got the ball, any combination of Simone Charley, Christen Press, Jun Endo, or Savannah McCaskill were all right there to provide support. Likewise for the defense: if a Spirit player tried to enter ACFC’s box, every available player would swarm her until she had to pass backward. Talk about playing for each other.
3. A Dwindling Spirit
This title both refers to the growing number of Spirit injuries and the lack of mentality from the Washington side. While the injuries are simply bad luck, the complete absence of determination from this team is worrying. It seemed after the Press goal that the entire team just took their foot off the gas. Misplaced passes, missing energy - it seemed like exhaustion set in from the get-go. A prime example of this occurred in the 88th minute when Trinity Rodman did a backheel flick expecting someone to receive it. Nobody was there. Rodman turned away from the ball and shrugged in anger, reminiscent of Rose Lavelle’s frustrated shrug at the Olympics. If Washington can’t shake whatever bad energy affected them this game, they are in for a long season.
4. (Un)necessary Roughness
While Angel City’s defensive performance was crucial to their win, the details of that performance could improve. Firstly, Christen Press’ name was brought up just as much in the defense as it was in the offense. While it is important for all players to help with defense, Press seemed to be a much more formidable obstacle for the Spirit than any defender. With Paige Nielsen (and her earrings) slowly regaining fitness this should be less of a problem moving forward, but it is slightly concerning in the short term. Secondly, Press and Hope Breslin both got yellow cards for making tactical fouls against an advancing Spirit. Plenty of teams use tactical fouls to stop the potent trio of Hatch, Rodman, and Sanchez, but it seemed that ACFC relied on that strategy a few too many times to keep the clean sheet. Angel City has a solid defense - they don’t need to be getting extra yellows when they should be trusting their defensive structure.