Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (1-8-2, 5 points) host the Washington Spirit (5-2-3, 18 points) tonight at Exploria Stadium. This is the first of three scheduled matches between the teams for the 2019 season. The teams will play again in back-to-back weeks on Aug. 24 and 31, each team playing home once.
This will be the ninth time that Orlando plays the Spirit, and the all-time series is deadlocked at 3-3-2. Last season, the Pride won two out of the three meetings, but each win was decided by just one goal.
In the last meeting, on July 7, 2018, Ashley Hatch got the game going in the 26th minute. Hatch soared above everyone on a corner, and the ball slowly trickled into the back post. Sydney Leroux leveled the game in stoppage time of the first half. The striker used an incredible cutback move to create space and beat former Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe on the near post. With the game dying down, the Pride kept banging at the door and it was none other than Marta who found the back of the net and gave the Pride the 2-1 win. It was a spectacular piece of individual effort from the Brazilian.
Sometimes we have no words. You just need to see this goal from Marta. @ORLPride take the lead late at home.#ORLvWAS | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/FOxP6nGm55— NWSL (@NWSL) July 8, 2018
The teams met three times in 2017, and the Pride went undefeated against Washington. In the first ever Pride game at what is now known as Exploria Stadium, Orlando needed to fight back after falling behind to earn a point in the 1-1 game. Line Sigvardsen-Jensen scored in the 60th minute, but with four minutes left in the match Danica Evans used some nifty footwork to get by the defense and find the equalizer in front of 14,452 fans. That is the second biggest home attendance for the Pride in team history. The biggest home crowd was the 2016 home opener against the Houston Dash.
The Spirit won both games in 2016, winning 2-0 on June 18 and 2-1 on Aug. 26.
Both the Pride and Spirit are coming off of losses. The Pride, who have yet to achieve a point at home, were victims of a Sam Kerr hat trick. The Australian was gifted goals from sloppy play from Orlando, and the Pride were unable to bounce back from it, losing 3-2.
Washington was riding a franchise-record seven-match unbeaten streak before hosting the North Carolina Courage. Debinha scored in stoppage time of the first half, and the Courage took a 1-0 lead into the break. Leah Pruitt made it 2-0 after an awful giveaway by Washington. Crystal Thomas scored a header off a long throw in the 82nd minute, but it wasn’t enough, and the Spirit fell, 2-1.
“In my opinion, I think [Washington is] probably the best team from playing out from the back,” Marc Skinner said after training on Wednesday. “I think they’re excellent, I think they’re doing a great job over there. I think they have fresh, young players. They use the draft system well, which is something that I’ve not had the chance to do yet. They’re a very, very strong team, I’m not surprised they are where they are. They’re very, very good and I think we’ve got to be excellent to beat them on the day and I think that we can do that, we’ve just got to make sure we’re on our money when we play them.”
Both teams have players on the United States Women’s National Team who are still in France. Washington will be without Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh, while Ashlyn Harris, Alex Morgan, and Ali Krieger are away for the Pride. The Spirit are currently in second place in the NWSL and are not finding it hard to get a result without their stars players. Meanwhile, Orlando has a -16 goal differential and has only scored three goals from the run of play.
Kristen Edmonds and Dani Weatherholt are both back at training after their respective injuries. Edmonds is still weeks away from being game fit, but Weatherholt could feature; both players are listed as questionable. Bridget Callahan is out in concussion protocol, and Claire Emslie’s debut will not happen this week as she has an excused absence.
For the Spirit, Mallory Eubanks (maternity leave), Tegan McGrady (left thigh), and Megan Crosson (illness) are all out, while Cali Farquharson is questionable with a left knee injury.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Shelina Zadorsky, Erin Greening.
Midfielders: Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond, Joanna Boyles.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Lainey Burdett, Abby Elinsky, Danica Evans, Marisa Viggiano, Morgan Reid, Dani Weatherholt, Camila.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe.
Defenders: Dorian Bailey, Sam Staab, McKenzie Berryhill, Tori Huster.
Midfielders: Chloe Logarzo, Paige Nielsen, Andi Sullivan.
Forwards: Cheyna Matthews, Bayley Feist, Ashley Hatch.
Bench: Shae Yanez, Jordan DiBiasi, Cali Farquharson, Arielle Ship, Amy Harrison, Crystal Thomas, Meggie Dougherty Howard.
Ref: Greg Dopka.
AR1: Maggie Short.
AR2: Kaili Terry.
4th: Janessa Gunn.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and on The Mane Land’s Twitter (@TheManeLand) — for full live tweets tonight follow @scottcarnevale as the main TML will be live tweeting Orlando City.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!