As often happens in a tightly contested affair, Washington Spirit’s encounter with the Chicago Red Stars saw one team outperform the other in the attacking third, and the other come out in wonderfully matching that intensity in the defensive third. Washington should have claimed victory, having hit the bar twice and dominating much of the play, but Chicago held their own, accumulating chances to put the game to bed themselves. In the end, a draw was a fair result, as both teams prepared for another match a few days later. Here is our match analysis of Washington’s midweek draw against the Chicago Red Stars.
CHICAGO RED STARS – 3-4-2-1
Chicago lined up in their favoured 3-4-2-1 formation, which became particularly imperative in pressing from the front and stunting Washington’s calm build-up play. The narrowness of their press excellently stopped Washington from being able to adequately switch play from one side to another, ensuring the space out wide never became available for long. In any case where Washington were able to find a way out, Chicago’s wing-backs Rachel Hill and Jill Aguilera immediately stepped up in pressing the wide areas. This level of organization continued all the way to the defensive third, where Vanessa DiBernardo excellently broke up the play, and the back-three magnificently organized their line to limit central penetration into Audrey Harding. Each of the three centre-backs showed excellent moments of defensive solidity and composure, and the same could be said of Alyssa Naeher in goal, who superbly swept in behind the back-line.
In attack, Chicago looked for moments to break quickly and counter-attack. They held 47% of the possession and showed other moments of nice, steady but progressive passing through the thirds. But their best moments always came on the break instead, with “four big chances” and 13 shots in the encounter. Sarah Griffith looked particularly dangerous as she floated between central avenues and right-half-spaces, whilst Mallory Pugh injected a different degree of pace upon her second-half-arrival. Both Hill and Aguilera also showcased brilliant moments of supporting the attack from wide, ensuring their role never became strictly a defensive one.
In the end, the quality of Naeher and the back-three shone through, stunting the likes of Rodman, Hatch and Sanchez from reaching full fluidity.
WASHINGTON SPIRIT – 4-2-3-1
Washington Spirit excelled in attacking phases (as per usual), utilizing the direct, energetic pace of Trinity Rodman as their primary weapon. The likes of Sanchez often looked to play immediately into Rodman’s path as soon as the Spirit progressed past the halfway line, with Karina Rodriguez sometimes inverting to further facilitate Rodman’s ability to receive progressive passes out wide. Rodman’s delivery never fully found its way to creating notable chances for her teammates, but Ashley Sanchez found several occasions where she flicked on the light and it stayed on for more than a second. The 23-year-old buzzed about as per usual in behind the team’s number nine, drifting deep as part of a staggered midfield trio to receive the ball and drive forward.
Her twinkle toes in the final third led to a fantastic assist on Ashley Hatch’s disallowed goal, not to mention two chances that smashed against the bar.
Ashley Hatch on the other hand had a quieter evening from an attacking perspective, looking more out of place on the left wing, and being excellently shepherded by the 2v1 mixture of Zoe Morse and Rachel Hill. Often times too patient and cavalier out from the back, Washington nearly shot themselves in the foot on a few occasions, with Chicago’s press consistently getting one over on their ability to play out from the back. Sam Staab’s attempts to go long were then often thwarted (2/9) by the excellent organization at the back from Morse, Sharples and Milazzo. As she continued to take corner kicks, Washington continued to lack the 25-year-old’s aerial presence in the box. That was, until Andi Sullivan entered the frame at halftime, and finally delivered for Staab at the death. Staab’s climbing header fantastically found the back-post, ensuring Washington’s hard work on the evening wouldn’t go to waste. Realistically, the Spirit could have put the game to bed far sooner. But in the end, they had to walk away with a disappointing draw, knowing they could have attained more. Chicago can also be disappointed, knowing they were less than five minutes of regular time away from securing an important win.
So there it is! A quick-take tactical analysis of Washington Spirit’s 1-1 draw with the Chicago Red Stars. Be sure to check out more of our Match Analyses, NWSL content, and follow on social media @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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