The National Women’s Soccer League is back in action on Saturday with the start of the Fall Series as Washington Spirit and Sky Blue FC square off on CBS. The Spirit and Sky Blue are the first two teams to get the party started as all nine NWSL clubs are split into three regional “pods” and have four scheduled games apiece. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about this Challenge Cup quarterfinal rematch.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, September 5 | Time:  1:00 p.m. ET
Location: Segra Field — Leesburg, Virginia 
TV: CBS | Live stream: CBS All Access
Odds: Spirit -110; Draw +240; Sky Blue +240 (via William Hill Sportsbook)

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Washington Spirit: The Spirit last faced Sky Blue FC in the Challenge Cup quarterfinals where they were eliminated in a penalty-kick shootout. The Spirit had significant opportunities to pull ahead but were unable to find the breakthrough in regulation. They enter this match having gone through some significant roster changes, trading the rights to Rose Lavelle to OL Reign ahead of her departure to play overseas for Manchester City in FA Women’s Super League. The team will also be without club veteran Tori Huster (left ankle), Tegan McGrady (right foot), Jordan DiBiasi (right hip) and team captain Andi Sullivan (left knee). Sullivan suffered a torn meniscus during the Challenge Cup and is currently rehabbing from surgery. The Spirit will likely rely on a midfield of Bayley Feist, Dorian Bailey, and Dougherty Howard to feed an impressive top line in Ashley Sanchez, Ashley Hatch and Kumi Yokoyama.

Sky Blue FC: Sky Blue are coming off a Challenge Cup semifinals appearance where they were defeated by Chicago Red Stars. Led by coach Freya Coombe, the New Jersey side is looking to build off their promising Challenge Cup run in the midst of a rebuild. The team announced their Fall Series roster and it included U.S. national team forward Mallory Pugh. Pugh will be with the club for this competition after rehabbing from injury. Sky Blue will be without McCall Zerboni, another player they acquired over the offseason who instantly gave their midfield an added threat. Zerboni suffered a torn meniscus in the Challenge Cup, and the team will continue to be without U.S. national team forward Carli Lloyd (left knee), Caprice Dydasco (right knee), and Kenie Wright (right knee). The team will likely rely on the midfield play of Jennifer Cudjoe, who recently signed a multiyear deal after her impressive debut in the Challenge Cup. 

Game prediction

Two teams who saw growth in the Challenge Cup will pick up where they left off, with Washington able to break through on goal. Pick: Spirit 2, Sky Blue FC 1


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