Leesburg, Va. — For the first time in NWSL history, fans in Loudoun County were able to cheer as the Washington Spirit took the pitch on July 2 in the team’s first ever fan-attended game at Segra Field in Leesburg. Despite the hometown crowd cheering them on, the Spirit fell, 1-0, to a well organized Chicago Red Stars team.
“The results were a little disappointing,” Washington head coach Richie Burke said. “But the performance was very pleasing.”
With plans to eventually move all technical, support, and training staff to Leesburg, the Spirit will bounce between Audi Field in D.C. and Segra Field in Leesburg throughout the 2021 season. The Spirit had previously hosted Kansas City at Segra on June 26, but fans were not permitted to attend the game.
After much awaited anticipation by Loudoun soccer fans, the Spirit opened the July 2 match in control offensively, dominating time of possession early, while putting up a shot on goal and placing two corners in the 9th and 16th minutes.
“I just think we need to work on a little bit of the patience and the sophistication in the final third,” Washington captain Andi Sullivan said. “I’m sure that will be a focus in training over the next few weeks.”
The Red Stars also failed to find the goal on a few chances of their own before Chicago forward Mallory Pugh placed a corner in front of the net which Chicago defender Kayla Sharples headed towards the goal. Washington keeper Aubrey Bledsoe deflected the attempt which then ricocheted off the head of Washington defender Julia Roddar and across the goal line.
Eight minutes later, Pugh set up another chance off a corner, but Sharples was unable to connect as the Red Stars headed into the half leading 1-0.
After stealing back some of the momentum late in the first half, Washington was unable to get any clean looks early in the second half, then took a major blow when forward Trinity Rodman—who has been Washington’s spark on offense—was injured in the 55’. The Spirit played a man down for six minutes as they assessed Rodman, then opted to make a substitution in the 61’ as Tara McKeown entered.
“[Trinity]’s having such an incredible rookie season,” Sullivan said. “We need to be able to protect her.”
As the clock approached full time, the Spirit put together a series of strong offensive sets, but, unfortunately, the Chicago defense was able to pack the box and keep their clean sheet intact.
The Spirit are back in action on July 10 when they host the North Carolina Courage at Audi Field in D.C.
|1H||33′||Chicago||Julia Roddar (own goal)||1-0|