The Orlando Pride (4-12-2, 14 points) fell to the Washington Spirit (7-7-4, 25 points) 2-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Audi Field. An Ashlyn Harris error led to the Spirit’s first goal, and poor defending allowed the second. Marta scored her fifth of the year for Orlando.
Marc Skinner made a few changes to his starting XI. Kristen Edmonds, Shelina Zadorsky, Ali Krieger, and Erin Greening started on the back line. Dani Weatherholt, Joanna Boyles, and Marisa Viggiano were in the midfield. Claire Emslie took a bench role, as Carson Pickett, Rachel Hill, and Marta started up top.
It took just nine minutes for Washington to break the deadlock. Ashlyn Harris gifted the Spirit a goal. She held the ball for too long, and Crystal Thomas picked her pocket and sent the ball into the empty net.
Harris made a great save in the 26th minute. Dorian Bailey sent in a perfect cross to Ashley Hatch. Hatch headed it to the bottom corner, and Harris got down low to make the save.
Marta leveled it in the 31st minute. Hill made a great run down the right wing. She then sent in a low cross, and Marta flicked it into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
Hatch had another chance in the 42nd minute. Meggie Dougherty Howard sent in a cross and Hatch headed it just inches over the post as the Pride failed to mark her all night long.
Orlando ended the half with fewer shots (7-5), shots on goal (3-1), and possession (38%). The Pride did have more corners (5-2) but were unable to do much with them.
The second half was mostly slow and uneventful. The Pride struggled in possession and found it difficult to connect a string of passes together.
Washington had a chance in the opening minutes. Orlando failed to clear the ball and defended sloppily. Hatch should have put the Spirit up, but her shot from the six-yard box sailed over the bar.
Hatch got her goal in the 59th minute. Tori Huster sent in a cross from distance. Hatch was unmarked despite being next to Krieger and sent a header past Harris to put the Spirit up 2-1.
Orlando had a chance to tie it in the 71st minute. Krieger sent in a perfect cross. Hill got on the end of it and sent a volley towards goal but poked the shot right at goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who somehow kept from spilling it and protected the Spirit’s 2-1 lead.
Washington could have easily found another goal in the 79th minute. Cheyna Matthews cut inside Edmonds, who had moved to right back after Greening subbed off with an injury, and hit the post. The ball stayed in play and Andi Sullivan then took a shot and Harris denied her with a reaction save.
Orlando got right down the field. Edmonds made a nice move to get to the end line and found Marta in the box. The Brazilian shot from inside the area with most of the net to shoot at but hit the crossbar on a shot she’ll want back.
The Pride threw players forward but were unable to connect in the final third. This left them open in the back, and Washington took advantage. Luckily, besides the error at the beginning of the match, Harris stood on her head and kept the Pride in the game. She finished the game with five saves.
In the dying moments, Orlando had a corner. Hill headed it, and it looked like it may have crossed the line. Bledsoe quickly got down and was credited with a save.
Washington led in shots (15-11) and shots on goal. The Spirit dominated possession (59%), and Orlando struggled to keep control of the ball.
In addition to being wasteful with excellent scoring chances in the second half, the Pride again floundered at times defensively.
Orlando will have a chance at redemption as the Spirit visit Orlando next Saturday night at Exploria Stadium.