Signs of Improvement
Sky Blue's struggles since the beginning of last season both on and off the field are well-documented. While some of the off the field improvements became more visible in the days and weeks leading up to the season, signs of their on the field improvement wouldn't become visible until they started playing. While they obviously haven't looked like world beaters, they look infinitely better than the shell of a team that took the field 24 times last season. While they are still yet to win a game this season, they have remained competitive in the four games they have played so far. These include a 2-2 draw against the Portland Thorns, (this being a game that they probably should have won), and a 0-0 draw against an albeit depleted, but still very competitive North Carolina Courage team. Starting with this week's matches, all teams will be without players that will be heading to this summer's World Cup, this means teams will need to sign other players in order to fill the holes left by the departing players. Sky Blue arguable signed the biggest fish available in veteran defender Gina Lewandowski, who has spent most of her career in Europe. They also signed their two fourth round picks from this past draft in goalkeeper, Kaylan Marckese, and midfielder Sabrina Flores. One of the players Sky Blue will be losing to the World Cup is goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who has been arguable their best player. They acquired Didi Haracic in the offseason as cover for this situation, but given the way Sheridan has played this season, it will be some pretty big shoes to fill. Washington is arguably the one team that Sky Blue is most similar to when it comes to talent-wise, making this a prime opportunity for them to pick up three crucial points.
OUT: Mandy Freeman (Right achilles tendon repair), Madison Tiernan (Left ACL/MCL sprain)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Carli Lloyd (USA), Estelle Johnson (Cameroon), Kailen Sheridan (CAN)
Too Early to Tell
After their opening weekend win over Sky Blue, Washington are still yet to score a goal. A 1-0 loss to the Utah Royals, and 0-0 draw with Reign FC are what Washington has been able to manage since the two team's original meeting earlier this season. It's obviously better than the ridiculous blowouts we were seeing last season, but the main problem for Washington last season was goal scoring, and at least early on, it hasn't much improved. Like i said though, it's still early and they are playing a team they managed to put two past earlier on in the season, and this could very well be a launching pad for the team moving forward. Another bonus is that of all of the teams in NWSL, they'll be the one losing the least amount of players due to the World Cup, albeit being their two best players in Mallory Pugh and Rose Lavelle.
OUT: Mallory Eubanks (MAT), Tegan McGrady (Left Thigh)
QUESTIONABLE: McKenzie Berryhill (Right Shoulder)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Rose Lavelle (USA), Mallory Pugh (USA)
Sky Blue FC hosts the Washington Spirit this Saturday, May 10, at 3:00 PM EST. For American viewers, the match will be streamed at this link, and on the Yahoo! Sports App. For international viewers, the match will be streamed on nwslsoccer.com.