Despite Friday’s loss, the Washington Spirit appreciate the atmosphere Segra Field brings.
There aren’t many situations where a team has two home stadiums 50 miles away from each other. But that’s the case for the Washington Spirit. Audi Field, a 20,000 seat stadium located in southwest Washington D.C., and Segra Field, a 5,000 seat stadium in Leesburg, Virginia, are two soccer-specific facilities that can put claim to being the home of the soccer club.
Audi Field is a state of the art facility, home of the MLS franchise D.C. United. Segra Field presents a close-knit, electric, familial atmosphere where Loudoun United FC call home.
On Friday, it was Segra Field’s turn. It was electric, but intimate. The stadium felt ‘full’ as midfielder Andi Sullivan said in Friday’s post-match press conference. Over three thousand Spirit fans flooded Segra Field in Leesburg, VA in hopes of seeing a streak continue. The Spirit hadn’t lost a game since May 21st against the Racing Louisville FC. This was the Spirit’s first game at Segra Field this season, and only their second home game of the season.
“It was awesome. We had a lot of people there,” said defenseman Paige Nielsen. “We felt the energy. We had a sense of urgency at the end, obviously we were down a goal so that would happen. But it feels amazing when you have a city behind you.”
Midfielder Andi Sullivan highlighted how the fans provided the club some spark and energy.
“I enjoy that intimate atmosphere and getting to see them after the game is always nice,” said Sullivan. “It’s great having these fans out here (Leesburg, VA), fans in D.C. and obviously fans in Maryland as well. We’ll take fans anywhere.”
Sullivan also expressed how difficult it is to change surfaces.
“It’s definitely difficult to change surfaces especially in your home venue. I’ll be sore tomorrow (from this turf). But we’re used to playing on different fields all the time at away stadiums, so we’re definiitely pros about it. I think it’s just really valuing that pre-game training and figuring out the field in that small short session and being able to adjust on the fly. I think our team is good at that, being flexible. It’s always something we put into our gameplan.”
Despite taking the blame for Friday’s loss, Spirit head coach Richie Burke bemoaned the turf’s surface. “We’re not big fans of synthetic turf,” said Burke. “I think it slows the ball down a little bit for us, especially one like this that doesn’t get watered and doesn’t have zip to it.”
Burke also conceded that blaming the field wasn’t the reason behind the loss. “We don’t make excuses for the field, for what happened tonight,” said Burke. “We just didn’t finish our chances, we didn’t create any chances really.”
The Spirit will look to create more chances against the North Carolina Courage on Saturday, July 10 at 7:00 pm ET at Audi Field.