The Washington Spirit took sole possession of first place in the NWSL standings on Saturday as they wrapped up their Fall Series campaign with a 1-0 win over Sky Blue FC in Montclair, New Jersey.
Washington entered this on having dropped its opening match of the competition against Sky Blue FC. As the visiting side, the Spirit appeared to quickly build into their game, setting the tempo and retaining possession. Sky Blue would do well to try and sustain the pressure as the two teams went into halftime scoreless. But in the end, the Spirit pulled ahead in the second half thanks to a goal from Japanese international Kumi Yokoyama in the 50th minute.
Here's what to know from the match:
Kumi Yokoyama's opening goal the difference
Yokoyama has been a force on the pitch for the team during this Fall Series. She finally got the breakthrough for Washington with this shot from distance.
Aubrey Beldsoe makes acrobatic save to keep Spirit ahead
Immediately following Yokoyama's goal, Sky Blue FC began to push for an equalizer. Midfielder Jennifer Cudjoe took her chance at getting one past the keeper from distance but Bledsoe was there to keep the shut out.
Let's rate some of the notable performances on the day, with one being the worst and 10 being perfection:
Kumi Yokoyama, Washington Spirit: The Japanese international, who was acquired in the offseason before the Challenge Cup, has been outright impressive. She's shown her ability to both build up play and create her own shot. The game-winning goal gives her the top ranking of the day. RATING: 9
Crystal Thomas, Washington Spirit: Washington has had to rotate the roster a bit in light of a number of injuries to its typical starters. Thomas has seen time off the bench for the Spirit during this competition, notching a goal and an assist through four games. She didn't get on the score sheet on Saturday, but her presence in the attack help Washington secure three vital points. RATING: 7.5
Jennifer Cudjoe, Sky Blue FC: Faced an active attack in the first half that saw her team on their back-heels a bit, having to sustain pressure from Washington. Cudjoe did well to get involved and disrupt play when able. She forced a shot on goal for Sky Blue when the team was pressing for an equalizer. RATING: 7.5
What's to come
As Washington exits the competition on a high note, the Fall Series continues Saturday with Portland Thorns FC visiting Utah Royals FC. On Sunday, Houston will host North Carolina in a battle of 2019 and 2020 champions. Once the weekend games are in the books, only four matches will remain.
Saturday, Oct. 3
- Utah Royals FC vs. Portland Thorns FC, 10 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)
Sunday, Oct. 4
- Houston Dash vs. North Carolina Courage, 7 p.m. ET (Twitch)