The Sky Blue fans will play the 'Guess what position Kelley O'Hara will play on the field this week!' game. It is an exciting and unpredictable game that sometimes is more thrilling than the match itself. However, for the fans that are eager to catch O'Hara playing up top, they should find some reassurance in a recent post-game interview with head coach Jim Gabarra. He stated that the primary reason O'Hara was playing as a left back during the WNYF match was due to the fact that captain Christie Rampone would have been left alone to guide a fairly novice back-line.
Searching for the silver lining in his speech would mean that as the season progresses and the defenders gain more experience it will allow O'Hara to transition to the front, unfortunately Sky Blue fans will just have to wait and continue playing the guessing game. Let's call it #officerKOonthelookoutfor, example #officerKOonthelookoutfor the backline.
The Washington Spirit are rebounding from a thrilling match against a stubborn WNYF squad. The match resulted in a draw but for the Spirit they witnessed the birth of their star players Diana Matheson, Lori Lindsey, Tori Huster and Ali Krieger. Matheson is an asset if the Spirit plans on intimidating the SBFC defense. She creates powerful and creative counter attacks and when partnered with Krieger and Captain Lightning (a.k.a Lori Lindsey) they will be a threat moving out of the midfield. Matheson is a difficult player to dispossess and this will be an issue for Sky Blue midfielders Sophie Schmidt and Brittany Bock. However, for SBFC's Caitlin Foord, competing against Matheson will be a spectacle of its own as both players have similar attacking styles and are credited with building up the counter attacks for their respective squads.
For the Spirit defense, they need to rely on the Krieger- Robyn Gayle-Ashlyn Harris trifecta. In the match against WNYF, Krieger had a spectacular kick save in the latter second half when she intercepted a Samantha Kerr cross to Adriana; she secured a level game for another 10 minutes. Krieger will need to work overtime in order to outpace Lisa De Vanna and Foord. The duo have formed a smooth partnership on the field that allows them to seed passes to one another and open up room to move forward and into the center. Once again, both of these SBFC players will have a challenging obstacle in their way as Ashlyn Harris has performed exceedingly well this season.
Cameron will see a lot of the ball if the Spirit uses Stephanie Ochs, Tiffany McCarty or Jasmyne Spencer as their forwards. Ochs is a great team player and assisted in the McCarty goal against the Boston Breakers in week one, so the SBFC back line will need to work at shutting her down early on in her offensive pursuits. Spencer and McCarty have a knack for cropping up in the box undetected by the back-line; however, SBFC has a perceptive left back in O'Hara and a stubborn center back line consisting of Coco Goodson and captain Christie Rampone. It will be interesting to see how the Spirit forwards and midfielders swerve around the resilient SBFC back-line.
For Sky Blue, their strengths lie within their forwards O'Hara and De Vanna. When combined with right back Foord these players are going to be dangerous and in a feisty mood because they are suffering from scoring withdrawal. They are itching for a shot to hit the back of the net and that ambition was clear when they faced off against the Flash. They refused to drop by the wayside following their 1-0 lead in the first half.
Brittany Bock will need to maintain her 'Bock the Rock' status on the field. In the opening game, she shut down Abby Wambach, not letting anything get through midfield, and one should expect another strong display this time around. Two players that need to see the field for a longer stretch is Monica Ocampo and Madeleine Thompson. Thompson is a defender and if she were to play she could take up the left-back spot allowing O'Hara to move into the midfield resulting in her frequently pushing forward and creating crosses for the forwards. The starting forwards will likely be De Vanna and Danesha Adams, in the latter second half Gabarra might replace Adams with Monica Ocampo.
Washington Spirit Injuries
Sky Blue FC Injuries
OUT: Jill Loyden (wrist), Lindsi Cutshall.
Match Date/Time: Saturday, 7 pm ET.
Venue: Maryland Soccerplex Stadium, Boyds, Maryland.