Welcome to your match thread for this afternoon’s match-up between the Orlando Pride (4-5-3, 15 points) and the Washington Spirit (3-6-2, 11 points). This is the second of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season. Washington will return to Orlando City Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the series finale for 2017.
This game marks Pride defender Ali Krieger’s first return to Washington since the Spirit traded her to Orlando this off-season.
The Pride are 2-3-2 on the road this season, winning their last two, although Orlando is coming off a tough 1-0 loss vs. the Chicago Red Stars at home last weekend, falling on a Christen Press penalty kick. The good news is that striker Alex Morgan played in her first NWSL match of the season, coming on in the second half. She should be just about good to go for her first start today although probably isn’t yet 90-minute match fit. The Spirit are coming off a 1-0 road loss at the Boston Breakers, but have been better at Maryland SoccerPlex, posting a record of 3-3-0 at home this year.
Orlando is 0-2-1 against the Spirit, having earned its first point in the series earlier this year. The first meeting between the teams this season came in Week 2, with the Pride and Spirit drawing 1-1 at Orlando City Stadium on April 22. Rookie Danica Evans scored a dramatic 87th-minute equalizer after Line Sigvardsen-Jensen had put the visitors ahead around the hour mark.
That match was Marta’s Pride debut, as she entered in the second half. Since then, the Brazilian has scored six goals with three assists and is second in the league in scoring behind Megan Rapinoe. Also since then, the Spirit added USWNT star Mallory Pugh.
Washington swept the season series a year ago, winning 2-0 at home and 2-1 in Orlando. Sarah Hagen scored the only goal for the Pride in the inaugural season series, off an assist from Cami Levin. Neither player is still with Orlando. Estafania Banini and Francisca Ordega provided the offense in that first meeting — the Pride’s first match after the Pulse nightclub shootings. Cheyna Williams and Christine Nairn did the damage for Washington in the 2-1 game at Camping World Stadium.
Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (quad) is still listed as out, although she is nearing a return to the lineup. For the Spirit, Cali Farquharson (ACL), Joanna Lohman (ACL), and Kelsey Wys (ACL) are out.
“[Washington] are at the bottom of the standings now, but if you look from bottom to top anyone can beat anyone on any given day,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “They’ve obviously brought in Mallory Pugh, which has given them a big burst and an injection of skill up front. They’re a very well organized team. They’ve had a particularly stable back line so they are defensively disciplined. So the key for us is to be able to break down that defensive block that they put in there.
“I know it might sound cliche, but every game is really important in this league because the league is so tight. We need to make sure that, in those games that we know are going to be tight like this game this weekend, we need to concentrate defensively, we need to be aggressive in how we go about doing our job, and we need to finish off chances we get on the attacking end.”
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe.
Defenders: Steph Catley, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger, Kristen Edmonds.
Defensive Midfielders: Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt.
Attacking Midfielders: Marta, Camila, Chioma Ubogagu.
Forward: Alex Morgan.
Bench: Caroline Stanley, Maddy Evans, Nickolette Driesse, Monica, Jamia Fields, Jasmyne Spencer, Rachel Hill.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Stephanie Labbe.
Defenders: Kassey Kallman, Shelina Zadorsky, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson.
Midfielders: Estefania Banini, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Tori Huster.
Forwards: Francisca Ordega, Mallory Pugh, Havana Solaun.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Arielle Ship, Caprice Dydasco, Lindsay Elizabeth Agnew, Alyssa Kleiner, Kristie Mewis, Cheyna Williams.
Ref: Henrik Karlsson.
AR1: Tom Felice.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4th: Will Aten.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET) pregame, 3:50 p.m. kickoff.
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex — Germantown, MD.
Streaming: MyLifetime.com or via the Lifetime iOS and Android app (in the U.S.), NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.).
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