Head coach Richie Burke was optimistic about the team’s remaining 12 games last Friday. But he left Segra Field a bit frustrated at the 1-0 loss to the Portland Thorns FC.
It was mostly a defensive battle, and Portland only needed one goal to take a win back to Oregon.
“I’m a little bit disappointed in how we organized in the midfield for that one,” Spirit head coach Richie Burke said. “You have to give credit where credit’s due. [Thorns Coach Mark Parsons] has done a really good job of organizing them.”
In Saturday’s loss to Portland, the Spirit were pinned in their own half thanks to a relentless pursuit by Thorns players.
“For the majority of the first half, we were outnumbered in wide areas way too often,” said Spirit midfielder Tori Huster. “And we didn’t get it sorted in the first half at all.”
Help is on the way, as Burke said he hopes U.S. defenders Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett and Sweden midfielder Julia Roddar returns Aug. 22 against the Orlando Pride or Aug. 29 against the North Carolina Courage. Washington has struggled defending passes into the box, and those players should help the Spirit offensively and defensively.
While O’Hara and Sonnett were winning bronze medals and Roddar was winning silver, the Spirit was opening the month of August with two losses on their hands. Their once third place standing tumbled to sixth place.
In the month of July without the Olympians, the Spirit split, going 2-2 in those matchups. Outside of the July 2nd game against Chicago, Washington had no trouble scoring. Now, the inconsistency offensively is rearing its ugly head.
“We need to work on our speed of play and tempo,” Spirit defender Paige Nielsen said. “We need to go east-west like we have been in the past. This field is a little smaller, so it’s tough to get used to right away. But we should be able to do that no problem. It didn’t look like they had to move a whole lot. Back to the drawing board.”
The Washington Spirit will play against the Houston Dash at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas on August 13th at 8:30pm ET on Twitch.