Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (5-4-6, 21 points) take on the Washington Spirit (5-5-4, 19 points) in the nation’s capital. This is the third and final time that these two teams will face off during the 2021 NWSL regular season. The first two meetings between the Pride and Spirit ended in 1-1 draws.
The Pride and Spirit are 5-5-4 (W-L-D) since first meeting during the 2016 NWSL season. The Spirit hold a slight edge in regular-season play (5-4-4), and the Pride are 1-3-2 when playing in the Washington, D.C. area.
The Pride and Spirit have played three times already this season, twice in the NWSL regular season. The two teams opened the 2021 season against each other at Exploria Stadium. Ashley Hatch gave the Spirit a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes to go, but Alex Morgan equalized in the 84th minute, allowing the Pride to come away with the 1-1 draw.
The two teams met again on June 6 at Audi Field in Washington. Once again, Hatch gave the Spirit the second-half lead. But this time it was Taylor Kornieck striking three minutes later to pull out the 1-1 result. The first game between the Pride and Spirit in 2021 was during the NWSL Challenge Cup. Sydney Leroux’s 11th-minute goal was the difference as the Pride claimed their first win over the Spirit since 2019.
The two teams met three times in 2019, with the Pride going 1-2-0. The first game on July 6, 2019 was a high-scoring affair. An early Bayley Feist goal was matched by Chioma Ubogagu in the 21st minute and Rachel Hill put the Pride ahead five minutes later. Cheyna Matthews equalized for the Spirit in the 30th minute before Marta took over. Her goals in the 48th and 78th minutes put the game out of reach as the Pride won 4-3.
The Pride and Spirit were supposed to play back-to-back games in late August, but the return game in Orlando was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian. On Aug. 24, 2019, Crystal Thomas — who is now with the Pride — and Hatch scored the goals for the hosts, while Marta scored the lone goal for the Pride in a 2-1 Orlando loss. The makeup game was played on Oct. 5, 2019 and saw the most lopsided game of the season series. Hatch and Thomas were joined by Tiffany McCarty on the scoresheet as the Spirit won 3-0.
The Pride had a much better year against the Spirit in 2018, going 2-1-0. Goals by Hatch and Mallory Pugh lifted the Spirit to a 2-0 win in Maryland in the second game of the year. On June 23, 2018, Alanna Kennedy scored the game’s lone goal in the 11th minute, securing a 1-0 win for the Pride. The final game that year came on July 7, 2018, and once again went to the Pride. Once again, Hatch was the goal scorer for the Spirit, but Leroux and Marta responded for a 2-1 win.
In 2017, the teams had another early-season meeting, occurring in the second game of the season. A second-half goal by Line Sigvardsen-Jensen was equaled by Danica Evans in the 86th minute, resulting in a 1-1 draw. The teams drew again on July 8, 2017. Marta and Pugh both scored braces as the game ended 2-2. The final game on Aug. 8, 2017 went to the Pride. Goals by Marta, Camila, and Morgan lifted the hosts to a 3-0 win.
The 2016 NWSL season saw the teams meet twice. On June 18, 2016 in Maryland, an early goal by Estefania Banini and a late first-half strike by Francisca Ordega saw the Spirit win 2-0. The return game on Aug. 26, 2016 went to the Spirit again. Sarah Hagen put the Pride on the board in the 71st minute, but the Spirit already had goals by Cheyna Williams and Christine Nairn, holding off the Pride for the 2-1 win.
After losing four in five games, the Pride have come back strong following the departure of former head coach Marc Skinner. Interim head coach Becky Burleigh’s first three games have seen the Pride record a 1-0-2 record and climb into fourth in the NWSL.
The most recent game by the Pride ended in a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium against the Portland Thorns. It was a disappointing result against a short-handed Thorns team, but Jodie Taylor scored for the second consecutive game, a positive with Morgan still out with a calf injury suffered during the Olympics.
Hatch has been a Pride-killer since joining the Spirit in 2018. In eight games played against the Pride, the 26-year-old forward has six goals and two assists. The only game in which she didn’t score or assist against Orlando came on June 23, 2018. Keeping Hatch off the scoresheet will be a priority in this game.
Similar to the Pride, the Spirit have had a bad run recently. Their 2-2 draw with the Houston Dash last weekend broke a two-game losing streak. They’ll be looking to get their first win since July 25 against Louisville and move up from their sixth position in the NWSL standings.
“We were a little disappointed with our performance last week, and I think that’s good motivation going into this week,” Burleigh said this week. “Because we feel like we can play better than what we showed. And I think any time you’re disappointed with a tie to the first-place team, that’s a good place to be.
“Washington is going to be back at full strength. They’ve got some great players returning and that’s exciting because, I think for us to bring out our full potential,we need to play against the best. So I’m excited about seeing some of those players back, and I think for us, we want to be better than we were last week.”
The Pride injury report looks the same as it did last week, listing Carrie Lawrence (right ankle), Jade Moore (left knee), Viviana Villacorta (knee surgery), and Morgan (left calf) as out. All other players are available for selection, meaning the Pride are almost at full strength.
While the Spirit do have their internationals back, there are some players missing. Averie Collins and Feist are out with season-ending ACL injuries. Jordan DiBiasi is also out with an excused abence.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Amy Turner, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Midfielders: Meggie Dougherty Howard, Marisa Viggiano, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Marta, Jodie Taylor, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Erin McLeod, Ally Haran, Toni Pressley, Phoebe McClernon, Kylie Strom, Taylor Kornieck, Erika Tymrak, Abi Kim, Crystal Thomas.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Bledsoe.
Defenders: Anna Heilferty, Sam Staab, Paige Nielsen, Saori Takarada.
Midfielders: Dorian Bailey, Andy Sullivan, Tori Huster.
Forwards: Tara McKeown, Ashley Hatch, Trinity Rodman.
Bench: Kelley O’Hara, Emily Sonnett, Tegan McGrady, Julia Roddar, Kumi Yokoyama, Devon Kerr, Taylor Aylmer, Camryn Biegalski, Ashley Sanchez.
REF: Tori Penso.
AR1: Jeffrey Skinker.
AR2: Max Smith.
4TH: Scarlet Agrawal.
How to Watch
Match Time: 4 p.m. ET.
Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!