Taylor Smith won the ball at the back and surged down the right channel into open space. Mallory Pugh went out wide. A couple of passes threatened to unlock the Utah defense.

I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but it probably involved Becky Sauerbrunn breaking up the attack.

I bring it up because that may have been the only time Wednesday night that the Washington Spirit looked like they had a chance of scoring a goal. Even a glimmer of hope.

Sure, Rose Lavelle had a couple of dazzling moments, pulling off skill moves usually seen only in coaching clinics in which the coaches are trying way too hard to show they can teach some off-the-wall 360 move. (Calling it the “Maradona” is surely ironic these days given that Jupiter would rotate with more speed than Maradona would.) And Lavelle had a good run going until Rachel Corsie committed a foul that would’ve been a 15-yard penalty in the NFL.

But the stats for this one were just ugly for the Spirit, unless you count saves, in which long-serving understudy DiDi Haracic tallied 10 and was a bit unlucky not to have an unlikely 11-save shutout. She at least made Laura Harvey and company sweat on a cool, almost chilly night at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

spirit-shots
Does the “expected goal” (xG) stat ever go into negative numbers?

With that, I have to confess that the headline is misleading. I did not meet the new boss, Tom Torres. I’m working on a story for The Guardian, and my priority was talking with some Utah folks — including Laura Harvey, who told me she used to deliver The Guardian. Small world.

But the Won’t Get Fooled Again reference is apt. This Spirit team isn’t suddenly going to learn to avoid defensive lapses. Nor is the midfield going to provide any meaningful possession.

So I’m still at a loss to explain why the Spirit felt the need to fire Jim Gabarra now rather than offer him a sideline swansong and then perhaps another job in the organization. And I didn’t get any more answers on what was frankly a weird night at the SoccerPlex. Jen Gordon wasn’t there, apparently for the first time since the Spirit’s debut. Neither was Boyd. Good dog.

I’m pondering the quote from Spirit president and interim GM Chris Hummer from yesterday’s post, in which he talked about starting the process for 2019 now. Does that mean interim coach Tom Torres is a candidate?

Torres’ resume isn’t bad. But my sense is that the restless fan base will want a bigger name or more top-level experience. Also, the Spirit may still have trouble shaking the perception that they think they can get by with the coaching talent in the D.C. area. They caught lightning in a bottle with the then-green Mark Parsons, who had been a youth and high school coach in rural Virginia, but the Spirit otherwise have a track record of overvaluing coaches (and sometimes players — the DMV is not California) from this area. It’s understandable in the academy — nothing wrong with hiring a former player like Lori Lindsey or a mid-Atlantic stalwart like Santino Quaranta — but another perspective would surely help. And this team needs it.

Next stop: Audi Field.

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