Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride finish a three-game home stand against the Washington Spirit. This is the third and final meeting of the year between the Pride and the Spirit.
After losing their last two matches, both at home, the Pride (6-5-4, 22 points) sit in fourth place, and in the final playoff spot, in the NWSL with nine games remaining. However, the playoff race is extremely tight nearing the final stretch of matches and second through sixth places are separated by just three points.
Washington (2-9-4, 10 points) sits near the bottom of the table in eighth place. With just 10 points through 15 games, the playoffs are looking out of reach for the Spirit.
After splitting the first two meetings of this season, the Spirit have the slight edge in the all-time series, going 3-2-2, in seven meetings. In Orlando, the series is tied at 1-1-1. The first time these teams played this season was back on March 31. Orlando traveled to Maryland without seven key players due to international duty and injures and they were sorely missed. Washington won 2-0 on late goals from Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch.
The Pride bounced back on June 23 with a 1-0 win. Alanna Kennedy scored the game winner on this NWSL Goal of the Week from near midfield, and Ashlyn Harris kept Orlando in it with the Save of the Week. That was Orlando’s first away victory against Washington.
The Spirit won both head-to-head games in 2016. Orlando’s first win against the Spirit came back on Aug. 8, 2017. After a scoreless first half, Marta, Camila, and Alex Morgan each scored in a span of 13 minutes to give Orlando the 3-0 win.
Currently on a two-game losing streak, the Pride have started a slow decline in the standings. Having been in the sole possession of second place just two weeks ago, Orlando is now in fourth place after last night’s Portland-Utah match. Orlando’s home form has not been great this season as they have won just two games from seven (2-3-2).
The Pride cannot afford to drop anymore points and luckily they are facing eighth place Washington at home today to try to put a stop to this short losing streak. With a full week’s rest after playing three matches in a week the time is optimal for Orlando.
“You talk about must-win games, [the 2-1 loss to Houston] would go down in one of those categories as an almost must-win game,” Tom Sermani said. “But we’ve been in this position before. We are in a poorer position than we were last year and it’s now just a case of us refocusing, getting things right — whether its tactically or selection — and getting the performances we need to keep moving up the table.”
While the Pride’s performance has been poor lately, it’s nothing compared to Washington’s form. The Spirit are currently on a six-game winless streak and have not scored a goal in five matches. With players like Ashley Hatch and Francisca Ordega, this team certainly has the quality to find the back of the net, though, and Orlando will have to be wary to not underestimate a team in poor form.
The Spirit are led by former Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Although Washington has allowed 20 goals this season, the blame cannot be put on Bledsoe’s shoulders. The former Pride keeper has made 70 saves this season, which is 24 more than the next highest goalkeeper’s total — that keeper is Ashlyn Harris. Still, a key difference between the former teammates is that Harris has a 69% save rate while Bledsoe’s is all the way up at 80%.
Orlando will be without Danica Evans (excused absence) and Morgan is listed as questionable with a calf strain she picked up in the loss to North Carolina. Washington has a host of injuries. Out are Cali Farquharson (left tibial stress injury), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), Mallory Pugh (right PCL sprain), Arielle Ship (right ACL), and Tiffany Weimer (left knee Baker’s cyst). In addition, Estefania Banini (hamstring), Mallory Eubanks (right ankle sprain), and Rose Lavelle (hamstring) are questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Poliana, Toni Pressley, Camila, Kristen Edmonds, Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe.
Defenders: Caprice Dydasco, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Taylor Smith.
Midfielders: Estefania Banini, Rebecca Quinn, Andi Sullivan.
Forwards: Francisca Ordega, Ashley Hatch, Tori Huster.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Rose Lavelle, Havana Solaun, Joanna Lohman, Mallory Eubanks, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Kelsey Wys.
REF: Danielle Chesky.
AR1: Shane Kennard.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4TH: Janessa Gunn.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.), WatchESPN.
Match Thread Rules
This is your live thread for posting comments on the match. So use our comments section below to talk about the game in real time with other supporters. If you’re new, welcome to our happy home! While you’re here, please observe a few basic rules:
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!