NWSL

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

audi-field-silhouette.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Game Preview: Washington Spirit vs. Portland Thorns at Audi Field

The Washington Spirit, one of nine teams in the National Women's Soccer League, will pay a visit to Audi Field later this summer.

The game versus the Portland Thorns FC is scheduled for August 25 at 8 pm. Tickets can be purchased online via Ticketmaster and start at $31, but will also be available at the door. 

If you're looking for where to watch the Spirit take on the Thorns from the comfort of your own couch, the game will be broadcast on ESPNews starting at 7:38 pm. Dalen Cuff is set to host the pregame show, with USA Women's National Team alumnus Aly Wagner commentating alongside Jenn Hildreth, in her second season of NWSL coverage.

Considering the recent addition of the legendary Wayne Rooney and their move to the new facility, DC United has a lot to celebrate.

Audi Field, which opened in Washington D.C.'s Buzzard Point on July 9, seats 20,000 spectators. For DC United, who previously played at RFK Stadium, the capacity is a step down from the almost 46,000 seats at RFK. But for the Spirit, who call Germantown's Maryland Soccerplex their home, the audience will hopefully far outnumber the Plex's usual 3,000 to 4,000 spectators.

The Spirit have struggled this season, with an unusually high amound of draws and more losses than wins. Though fan favorite and star forward Mallory Pugh is still sidelined with a PCL sprain, the team hopes to improve their ability to close one-goal deficits and gain a sustained offensive advantage. 

Aside from the Audi Field game, the Spirit will host two more home games this season. Utah Royals FC will visit the Soccerplex on Wednesday, August 22, and Sky Blue FC will close out the Spirit's home season on Saturday, September 1. Tickets for either game at their usual field can be purchased through the Washington Spirit's website or upon entry. 

If you haven't paid attention to women's soccer since the USWNT's 2015 World Cup victory, no worries. There's no better time than the present to support women's pro sports. Regardless of the end result, Portland vs. Washington will be a great match-up to watch, and the event has already made DC sports history.

MORE DC SPORTS NEWS:

Megan Rapinoe calls Washington Spirit owner 'homophobic' amid anthem controversy

Megan Rapinoe calls Washington Spirit owner 'homophobic' amid anthem controversy

In changing the timing of their on-field pregame program, the Washington Spirit organization successfully denied Megan Rapinoe the opportunity to kneel in protest during the national anthem. 

Rapinoe, along with players from both the Spirit and her Seattle Reign FC, were still in the locker rooms at Maryland Soccerplex when the anthem was played, obviously ahead of its usual place in the pregame routine.

Her attempts at a pregame protest muted, Rapinoe spoke out following the contest.

“It’s f---ing unbelievable,” she told reporters when asked about the home club’s decision to move the anthem in order to avoid her announced protest. “[I’m] saddened by it.”

Rapinoe took direct aim at Washington Spirit owner Bill Lynch, telling Caitlin Buckley of BlackandRedUnited.com that she believes Lynch is "homophobic."

https://twitter.com/caitlinbuckley2/status/773729577281650688

Rapinoe also targeted the wording in a Spirit press release explaining the club’s decision to adjust its pregame routine.

The six-paragraph statement claimed Rapinoe was "hijacking" the club’s event in order to "draw attention to a what is ultimately a personal – albeit worthy – cause."

"I think it was incredibly distasteful,” Rapinoe responded. “To say that I – four days before [9/11] – to say that I hijacked this event.”

The same press release also explained that the Spirit are a ‘veteran owned’ team and that owner Bill Lynch "lost personal friends during overseas conflicts and has other close friends who have also lost loved ones."

The Spirit and Reign FC will meet again on Sunday, September 11, in Seattle.

RELATED: Washington Spirit circumvent Rapinoe's protest efforts

Washington Spirit take steps to keep Megan Rapinoe from 'hijack' of anthem

Washington Spirit take steps to keep Megan Rapinoe from 'hijack' of anthem

Four days after causing a stir by taking a knee during the national anthem, USWNT star and Seattle Reign midfielder Megan Rapinoe was in Maryland on Wednesday to take on the Washington Spirit.  

It was expected that Rapinoe would once again show solidarity toward 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his silent protest.

But instead of playing the anthem with all the players on the field, as is typically the case, the Washington Spirit did not wait for Rapinoe to make her protest. The organization played the anthem as the teams were in the locker room getting ready.

The organization then released a statement defend its actions.

RELATED: RAPINOE DEFENDS RIGHT TO PROTEST

"We understand this may be seen as an extraordinary step, but believe it was the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game on such an important night for our franchise," the team said in an official statement. 

"To willingly allow anyone to hijack this tradition that means so much to million of Americans and so many of our own fans for any cause would effectively be just as disrespectful as doing it ourselves."

The Spirit, owned by Bill Lynch — a veteran — expressed concern over disrespecting those who also served.  "Professional athletes have incredible numbers of followers, to which we believe they have the abillity to articulate a conversation with objectives and plans and begimn a serious conversation directly, or through traditional media appearances, without insulting our military and our fans."

At the core of Kaepernick and Rapinoe's protest was oppression, not being pro or anti-millitary.

Rapinoe wanted her protest to spark a conversation. One about change.

It does not appear the Spirit want to engage in that same discussion.