2016 NWSL Championship Preview

May 16 2015: Washington Spirit defender Crystal Dunn (19) controls the ball in front of Sky Blue FC defender Hayley Haagsma (17) during a NWSL match at the Maryland Soccerplex, in Boyds, MD. Washington Spirit won 1-0. (Photo by Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Washington Spirit has been an elite team all season. They didn’t worry about being out of the top four. The Spirit would have gotten more attention if Crystal Dunn was scoring.

Washington’s most important offseason move was hiring Jim Gabarra as the manager. He’s a legend as he led the Washington Freedom in the WUSA. He wanted possession-based soccer, and he was capable of convincing the players to perform his style.

The Spirit played unselfishly. The ladies willfully pass to one another for an easier goal. The best tiki-taka football playing in America is being played in Washington but not by D.C. United.

2016 NWSL Championship Preview

Gabarra’s system made the Spirit players other than Dunn become threats on the ball. The names will change but Gabarra’s 4-3-3 formation functions without needing Crystal to score in bunches.

WASHINGTON SPIRIT PROJECTED LINE UP

Washington wants to play out wide in the midfield and narrow the spaces as they score. The Spirit one touch passing in tight spots leads to easy, uncomplicated goals. Their patience on the ball lulls the opponent into chasing to ball instead of having individual battles.

Gabarra is known his defenses to be shaky and that’s the case for Washington. The problem isn’t the quality of the defenders but the size of the team. The Spirit can get pushed around. The Western New York Flash did bully them in the regular season with 14 fouls given in two games according to www.ussoccer.com

WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH PROJECTED LINEUP

The Flash are taller, just as fast, and can score just as easily as the Spirit. Western New York’s playing style is to counterattack. However, the can maintain possession. Washington must be concerned about breakaways and Jessica McDonald’s set pieces.

To talk about the Flash and Spirit defensive strategies would be pointless. They can’t defend. The NWSL Championship will have multiple goals being scored. The objective of both teams will be to hold on to a lead rather than shutting down an attack.

What we will witness in this championship is potential. Flash player Lynn Williams’ success this season has gotten her a call-up to the US women’s national team. Fellow Western New Yorker Samantha Mewis has gotten Jill Ellis‘ attention as well. We will watch two different teams competing to be the best team in an emerging league. A league that is young but already one of the best in the world.

Photo credit: Getty Images/Icon Sports Wire

1 COMMENT

  1. Joanna Lohman is pretty awesome, but even she can’t play two midfield positions at the same time – the other spot will presumably be either Nairn or Matheson.

    And I don’t know where you get the idea that the Spirit can’t defend. They allowed a mere 21 goals this season, just two more than the league-leading Portland Thorns, and had 7 shutout games to the Thorns’ 6. The Flash scored 40 goals during the season but just once (in two matches) against Washington.

    My worry is that Western New York outplayed Washington in both of their regular-season matchups but couldn’t come away with the win. The Spirit can’t count on being fortunate a third time

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