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Signal Intel: Strategizing for the Spirit

We chat with Black and Red United ahead of a pivotal clash Saturday night in Maryland.

Chicago Red Stars

The Chicago Red Stars are coming off their worst home stretch in history. Chicago dropped three consecutive matches at Toyota Park last week as they lost to Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign, and FC Kansas City. Chicago had previously lost just seven times at Toyota Park in NWSL play and are looking to get back on the winning side of the table and regain their form.

The Red Stars take their show on the road this week as they head to Maryland to do battle with the Washington Spirit, who they engaged in a trade earlier in the week that saw midfielder Kristie Mewis find her way to the Windy City and former Red Star Morgan Proffitt head the other direction.

Caitlin Buckley of Black and Red United was kind enough to sit down with us this week to discuss the upcoming match against the Washington Spirit.

Hot Time in Old Town: Both the Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit were involved in a big trade this week that saw Kristie Mewis come to Chicago and saw the Spirit acquire a conditional first round draft pick and claiming for Red Stars player Morgan Proffitt off waivers. We've outlined our belief it what it does for the Red Stars. What benefit do you see it having for the Washington Spirit going forward?

Black and Red United: The main benefit is that next year the Spirit will have two first round draft picks, possibly both of them in the top half of the round. This year the Spirit drafted Meggie Dougherty Howard who now plays a key role in their midfield.

A strong draft class could help the Spirit rebuild from this year and fill any holes that happen this offseason. Morgan Proffitt is an exciting acquisition and is a player that with more game experience could start to help the Spirit either at center back or filling in at holding midfield if that need arises.

HTIOT: The Red Stars have seen a lot of teams attacking them in a 4-4-2 formation as they look to skip the midfield and take the attack directly to the back line. Is that something you anticipate the Spirit continuing to do against the Red Stars on Saturday night?

BARU: The Spirit usually try to keep a pretty high line and press their opponents pretty hard. Last week against North Carolina, their weaker moments were when Washington started to sit back a bit. The Spirit's midfield is probably their best unit so look for them to build from that.

HTIOT: First the Spirit had Ashlyn Harris and then a talented goalkeeper in Stephanie Labbe, why is she so effective for this young Spirit team?

BARU: Steph Labbe has been really great in goal this season. The number of goals the Spirit have conceded is rough but without some of her good performances she has had this season, that number would be worse. She has made some pretty last-gasp acrobatic saves this season.

HTIOT: Would you prefer to build a team around Crystal Dunn or Mallory Pugh and why?

BARU: That's a tough one! Right now I would go with Crystal Dunn but for a long-term thing I'd pick Mallory Pugh.

Is there anything you are looking for in this match? How do you feel about the Red Stars chances in this road match?Let us know in the comments below!