Washington Spirit vs. Utah Royals FC live stream, schedule, preview: Watch NWSL online

Numerous stars of tomorrow are out in full force in the weekend finale as Washington Spirit aims to protect Audi Field for the second straight weekend, taking on Ally Sentnor and Utah Royals FC.

Bay FC v Washington Spirit
Bay FC v Washington Spirit / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Two clubs coming off a win by the same margin meet for a chance at a second straight triumph at Audi Field on Sunday afternoon.

After a week-one encounter in Seattle defined by an inept attack without Trinity Rodman, the Washington Spirit bounced back. 23-year-old rookie Croix Bethune played the role of heroine, netting the winner in stoppage time on home soil for her first NWSL career goal against the Northern California expansion outfit Bay FC. It'll meet the other newcomer to this league, Amy Rodriguez's Utah Royals who just edged North Carolina Courage for the club's first victory of the franchise's second iteration.

Rookies have been at the center of the headlines for these two so far. Ally Sentnor is arguably Utah's most creative player, scoring her first professional goal last week with a stunning left-footed strike past Casey Murphy. The former UNC star is tied with right winger Paige Monaghan for the most shot-creating actions on the Royals this campaign.

On the Washington side, Hal Hershfelt, and Bethune are showing exactly why they were top-five selections in January. Hershfelt led the Spirit in completed passes against BFC in that double pivot alongside Andi Sullivan. The Georiga midfielder has mostly played in that pocked behind the nine, filling that creator role so far that was left by Ashley Sanchez.

Washington's interim sideline leader Adrián González praised Bethune in his pre-match presser.

"She has huge talent, understanding the game, she’s very, very clever," stated González. "In terms of positioning, we are helping her to understand where she needs to be to try to participate more because I think that’s important for her to get involved more, and also the team needs that."

In the first version of Utah's existence in the NWSL, the Spirit managed to finish as the victor just once, scoring only twice, one of which was a finish by ex-BYU standout Ashley Hatch. The 42-year-old current Washington player Nicole Barnhart was a rock for Utah between the sticks, recording four clean sheets in the final five encounters these two experienced before the Royals would cease operations.

You could just feel the energy through that television at Audi Field last weekend at the opener. Expect that same energy for a contest between two clubs who had relatively low expectations thrown their way heading into the season.

How to watch Washington Spirit vs. Utah Royals FC in the NWSL regular season

  • Date: Friday, March 31
  • Start Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
  • Location: Audi Field (Washington, D.C.)
  • TV info/Live Stream: NWSL+

Prediction: Washington Spirit 2-1 Utah Royals FC