soccer

Washington Spirit vs. Maryland Terrapins: Forget about it

On paper, it doesn’t look good for a pro team to lose to a college team. Particularly one that isn’t renowned as a national title contender (though that could change this year). Particularly when other NWSL teams are mopping the field with their college opponents.

But we have to repeat that the Washington Spirit that lost 2-0 at Maryland tonight is not the Washington Spirit team that will take the field in 10 days or two months. The Spirit dressed 15 players, then scratched Tiffany McCarty, who joined Colleen Williams, Kika Toulouse, Danielle Hubka and Candace Chapman as injury absentees. Holly King is back in college in Florida for another few weeks, and four players are away with the USA and Canada.

Not that the Spirit were particularly pleased after this encounter. Grumpiness spread over many of the players — aside from all the Maryland alumni posing for pictures with their former teammates.

Quick aside about that: Maryland has some passionate soccer fans who don’t seem to realize who played for their team last fall or two years ago. They yelled for the current players by name and argued with the officials. Sure, the game had no PA announcer to give the names of the players and rev up the voice for the Terp alumni. But I spoke with a group of fans who didn’t know the names Domenica Hodak or Jasmyne Spencer in the first place.

Spencer barely knew her teammates’ names, having just joined the team at the pregame meal. She got a good long run at forward and posed a few problems for her former defense, but the Spirit attackers weren’t quite in sync. Individually, many of them played well — Caroline Miller came close to settling some old ACC scores singlehandedly, and Stephanie Ochs was solid on the wing and in the middle. The chemistry wasn’t quite there, which is bound to happen to a team that just brought in a forward three hours ago. And as solid a worker as Spencer is, a 5-1 forward may not be the best target for an aerial cross. They’ll need to rework that alignment.

Surely some of the issues will pass. It’s easy to see how the missing players will fill important holes:

– Maryland got most of its chances on counterattacks. They easily could’ve won 4-0. But will the Spirit give up those chances when Ali Krieger and Robyn Gayle (and Candace Chapman, if healthy, and possibly Kika Toulouse) are at the back? Probably not.

– The Spirit had a lot of possession but lacked that incisive pass. Enter Diana Matheson, now busy with Canada.

– McCarty was the driving force behind the Spirit’s win over UNC. She also wasn’t on the field for this game.

So what do we know from this game, one of three games the Spirit will play in seven days with 14-16 players? Not much. About as much as we know from Major League Soccer’s preseason, which is generally an audition period, or Major League Baseball spring training, which is basically a feeding frenzy for shady collectibles dealers.

Some of the players on the field tonight won’t last past Monday’s roster cuts. Others will be typical rookies with moments of brilliance and a few growing pains. In the end, the Spirit will forget about this game — just as Maryland’s fans who attended tonight have apparently forgotten Spencer, Hodak, Skyy Anderson and Olivia Wagner. (Spencer took it in good humor. Might have a chance to post quotes tomorrow.)

As for the opening game April 14, I think everyone has two requests. Warmer and less windy.

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7 replies »

  1. I disagree with Beau. There is a clear trend with this Spirit team through four matches — they have no attacking personality or chemistry in the final third. They play too slow, they play too cautiously/doubtful, and they fail to combine in any dangerous way. And replacing the tiny Mischler with the even smaller Spencer, on a team filled with giants like Wells, Matheson, Miller, McCarty, Hodak etc., is really a head-scratcher.

    I think the Spirit are destined to finish last in the NWSL this season, though I really hope that’s not the case. Nobody should be surprised if Virginia controls the match vs. the Spirit this Saturday night.

  2. Washington Spirit drafts and selection of players has me confused. I think they are very cheap and are probably just paying these local players chicken scraps. Are they building a team for this year’s NWSL or the 2015 NWSL? Other teams have been able to to get a much better caliber of players on the same budget specified for every team in the league. What in the world are they doing. I am sure these new young players are wonderful players but they are not there yet. Management put this team together as thou they were building a college team. This will put too much pressure on the allocated National team players, they can carry some burden but not this much.

    Yes we must have young inexperienced players, but not this many. I beg you please Washington Spirit (management, coaches, owner) please get your act together and handle this situation.

    Sincerely,
    A very dedicated but very pissed off FAN/SUPPORTER.

  3. Please come and see the WPSL Div Champs ACF Torino next Wed 10th April @ 7.00pm at Ludwig Field as we take on UMD,
    Squad Vs UMD; Zickler; Kennedy, Janss, Bodell, Kelly; Olson; Porto, Jimenez, Bender; Barrera D, Badalamente; Zimmerman, Pfaff, Gallo, Seigo, Fantis, Barrera C, Ipsan, Myers

  4. Collette — I’m not sure about the draft picks being cheap locals. They got Colleen Williams, an absolute steal who isn’t local, in the fourth round of the college draft. Then they added Kai and Angeli in the supplemental draft (granted, there’s no guarantee either will play this year).

    But yes — when you look at the team out of the field right now, without the nationals and Chapman, it’s a young group.

  5. Just to clarify i do not think the players are cheap. I think the Washington Spirit management are being cheap, by selecting players that they can pay on a lower scale.

  6. Oh, that’s what I thought you meant. But that said, I don’t know that they’re really saving money with the people they’re picking. This isn’t WPS — no one would be allowed to put together a 2011 Atlanta Beat roster.

  7. Beau – They never contacted Kai before the draft, and as I understand it haven’t spoken to her since. She has no intention of playing in NWSL – especially with a certain teammate on the Spirit. Angeli is a different story due to injury.

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