Welcome to the match thread for the Orlando Pride’s first away game of the 2018 NWSL season. This is the first meeting between Orlando and Washington in a game that will be missing all of its biggest stars. Rose Lavelle and Marta are both out, while Alex Morgan is questionable. There is a total of 11 players that will miss today’s NWSL Game of the Week and another two questionable.
Last week, the Pride and the Spirit both failed to win. The Pride gave up an early goal against NWSL newcomers Utah Royals FC. It was a tight game but it was clear that it was a season opener as play was sloppy at times. Marta converted a penalty in the 21st minute on a questionable call to save a point.
Washington fell 2-1 to Seattle as Megan Rapinoe scored and assisted to lead the Reign to victory. Joanna Lohman scored for Washington in her first game back since tearing her ACL. It is still extremely early in the season, but both Orlando (0-0-1, 1 point) and Washington (0-1-0, 0 points) are in the bottom half of the standings, although both Houston and Utah have played an extra game — a draw against each other last night.
Washington currently has the slight edge in the series, 2-1-2, largely because of the Spirit winning both head-to-head games in 2016. The has been no shortage of goals when these two teams face each other, with almost 2.5 total goals per game. The Pride went unbeaten (1-0-2) in the three meetings last year.
The last head-to-head game came on Aug. 8, 2017. After a goalless first half, Marta, Camila and Morgan each scored in a span of 13 minutes to give Orlando the 3-0 win. However, Orlando has never won an away game against Washington.
Today’s match will see former Orlando player Aubrey Bledsoe and several current Pride players face their old teams, as well as a plethora of players out for both teams. Bledsoe had been with Orlando since its inaugural season and has the second most appearances among goalkeepers. She was clutch for Orlando early in 2017 when Harris was out, starting 11 games and having and allowing just 15 goals. Bledsoe has played 12 games all time for Orlando, allowing just 17 goals and racking up five wins.
Orlando defender Shelina Zadorsky was the captain for the Spirit in 2016 and 2017 and helped Washington to the NWSL championship in 2016. After Orlando and Washington swapped Bledsoe for Zadorsky, the Canadian immediately became a starter in Tom Sermanni’s lineup, to help secure the Pride’s back line. Other former Spirit players now with Orlando include Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Toni Pressley, and Christine Nairn.
Orlando’s Alanna Kennedy, Marta, Monica, Poliana, and Emily van Egmond, as well as Washington’s Yanara Aedo and Estefania Banini will miss today’s game because they are on international duty. Additionally, the Pride’s Camila (knee) and the Spirit’s Rose Lavelle (hamstring), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Arielle Ship (knee) are all out. Alex Morgan, still in concussion protocol, is listed as questionable, and Cali Farquharson (tibia) is also questionable. All these absences will be a test of which team is has the most depth.
“[Washington] presents us with a lot of pace and energy. They’re a young team so they have a lot of enthusiasm,” Sermanni said in a club press release. “They had a tough start in Seattle last week, they were very close to getting the result, so I think they will want to do well in their first game at home. It is like any game, particular in away games in this league, they are all tough.
“We’ve got an extremely experienced team going out this weekend and we’ve got a team with players who have been together all this time this off-season and some that have been together for years. We are confident in the players going out on the field.”
Sydney Leroux will likely play in the center attack and Rachel Hill and Chi Ubogagu will be out wide for Marta and Morgan. They should continue to play in a 4-3-3. The scary part for Orlando is that the Pride won just one game last year in which Marta did score a goal or assist on one.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Ali Krieger, Shelina Zadorsky, Kristen Edmonds.
Midfielders: Christine Nairn, Toni Pressley, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Sydney Leroux, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Lotta Okvist, Danica Evans, Abby Elinsky, Bridget Callahan, Christine Creighton, Nàdia Gomes.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe.
Defenders: Caprice Dydasco, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Taylor Smith.
Midfielders: Meggie Dougherty Howard, Tori Huster, Andi Sullivan.
Forwards: Ashley Hatch, Mallory Pugh, Francisca Ordega.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Joanna Lohman, Morgan Proffitt, Tiffany Weimer, Mallory Eubanks, Rebecca Quinn, Havana Solaun.
Ref: Matthew Franz.
AR1: Adrienne McDonald.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4th: Karl Kummer.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Maryland SoccerPlex — Germantown, MD.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.), MyLifetime.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match!