Spirit comes up empty again


Sunset at SoccerPlex (By Steven Goff — The Washington Post)

The Washington Spirit’s scoring problems go on and on and on …

They are making D.C. United’s wimpy attack look downright ferocious.

The Spirit was shut out for the seventh time in eight National Women’s Soccer League matches and dropped a 2-0 decision to the Chicago Red Stars before 2,593 at Maryland SoccerPlex on Wednesday night. Adriana Leon and Ella Masar scored eight minutes apart midway through the second half.

Since Tori Huster‘s goal in the 84th minute at Seattle almost two months ago, the Spirit (1-9-4) has been outscored 17-1 during an 0-7-1 rut. The only goal came on Diana Matheson‘s penalty kick during a 1-1 draw against FC Kansas City last week. In all, no goals in the run of play over 726 minutes — or more than 12 hours of numbing soccer.

In MLS, United (2-13-4) has failed to score in six of the past eight matches and is on pace to set a league record for scoring futility. The two local clubs have combined for 18 goals in 33 league games. They’ve conceded 55. Their combined record is 3-22-8 and they have   been shut out 19 times.

The Spirit received an emotional boost in the ninth minute when Ashlyn Harris, a U.S. national team goalkeeper, denied German forward Inka Grings‘s penalty kick, shifting to her left to block the low bid.

Candace Chapman‘s handball had prompted the call.

The Spirit’s attacking misery continued, though, and Chicago goalie Erin McLeod was hardly bothered.

The Red Stars (5-6-3) broke through in the 63rd minute when Leon, a 20-year-old Canadian forward acquired from Boston two weeks ago, lifted a 12-yard shot past Harris and into the far side.

In the 71st, Masar scored at the end of a corner kick.

About 100 residents from Ingleside at King Farm, an upscale retirement community in Rockville now housing three Spirit players, attended the match. The group also included family members and facility staff, raising the delegation total to 200.

The Spirit will return to action Sunday at Seattle in the first NWSL match carried by Fox Soccer (8:30 p.m. ET). The Reign will carry a 2-9-4 record into Thursday night’s home game against the Western New York Flash (6-3-5).

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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Steven Goff · July 10, 2013