Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) look to get their first win of 2022 as they travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Spirit (0-0-3, 3 points) (4 p.m., Paramount+). It’s the second time that the Pride will face the Spirit during this year’s NWSL Challenge Cup after the two teams drew in the opener.
Here’s what you should know ahead of the Pride’s fourth Challenge Cup game.
The Pride are now 5-6-5 (W-L-D) against the Spirit in all competitions dating back to 2016 and 1-0-1 in the Challenge Cup. However, the Pride are 1-4-1 in the Washington, D.C. area and haven’t played the Spirit away from home in either of the two previous Challenge Cup competitions.
The Pride and Spirit started this year’s Challenge Cup against each other at Exploria Stadium. The Spirit dominated the first half hour of each half, but the Pride did get some chances late in each period. In the end, neither team was able to break through as they came out with a scoreless draw.
The two teams played four times in 2021. The first game came on April 21 in the Challenge Cup. Sydney Leroux’s 11th-minute goal was the difference as the Pride claimed their lone win of the tournament. They met again in Orlando on May 16 to open the regular season. Ashley Hatch scored in the 76th minute, but Alex Morgan equalized eight minutes later, pulling out a 1-1 draw. The third game came on June 6 in D.C. Hatch once again gave the Spirit the lead, but Taylor Kornieck equalized three minutes later as the teams drew once again, 1-1. After playing three games in less than three months, they didn’t meet again until Aug. 22 in Washington. This time it was the Spirit who responded quickly after a 68th-minute Marta goal was answered by a 70th-minute Hatch conversion. Ashley Sanchez then won it for the hosts in the 89th minute, evening the season series with the 2-1 win.
The Pride and Spirit didn’t play against each other in 2020, but played three times in 2019. The first game was a high-scoring affair on July 6. Bayley Feist gave the Spirit the early lead in the seventh minute, but the Pride responded with goals by Chioma Ubogagu in the 21st minute and Rachel Hill in the 26th minute. Cheyna Matthews equalized in the 30th minute before Martra took over, scoring in the 48th and 78th minutes on the way to a 4-3 win.
The teams met again on Aug. 24 at Audi Field. Marta’s 31st-minute goal equalized after the Spirit took an early lead through Crystal Thomas. But it was Hatch’s 59th-minute goal that was the difference as the Spirit won 2-1. They were supposed to meet again on Aug. 31 but Hurricane Dorian delayed the game in Orlando to Oct. 5. This one was all Washington as Hatch, Thomas, and Tiffany McCarty lifted the Spirit to a 3-0 win.
In 2018, the Pride and Spirit met in the second game of the season. The March 31 meeting saw Mallory Pugh and Hatch score in the final 10 minutes, resulting in a 2-0 Spirit win. On June 23, the Pride got the Spirit back in Maryland as Alanna Kennedy’s 11th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 Pride win. The rubber match came on July 7. Hatch gave the Spirit the lead, but Leroux equalized just before the half and Marta won it for the Pride in the 86th minute.
The 2017 season saw the two teams first meet on April 22 in Orlando. Line Sigvardsen-Jensen gave the Spirit the lead in the first Pride game at Orlando City Stadium in the 60th minute. However, Danica Evans struck in the 86th minute, pulling out a 1-1 draw. The second game came on July 8. Pugh and Marta both scored braces as the game ended in a 2-2 draw. The final game was on Aug. 8 in Orlando. This time it was all Pride, as Marta, Camila, and Morgan lifted the Pride to a 3-0 win.
The Pride and Spirit first met in 2016, the Pride’s inaugural season. On June 18 in Maryland the Spirit shut out the Pride with goals by Estefania Banini and Francisca Ordega on the way to a 2-0 win. The second and final meeting in 2016 was on Aug. 26 in Orlando. The Spirit took a 2-0 lead through Cheyna Williams and Christine Nairn. Sarah Hagan got one back for the Pride in the 71st minute but it wasn’t enough as the Pride fell 2-1.
The Pride head into this game in last place of the East Division of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. They started the tournament with a scoreless draw against the Spirit and then lost 1-0 to the North Carolina Courage.
However, after being thoroughly outplayed in the first two games, the Pride looked much better in the last game against NJ/NY Gotham FC. Despite losing 1-0 on a late goal, the Pride had more possession, shots, and a better passing percentage than the opponent.
The Challenge Cup is considered a competition but is still treated as a preseason tournament. As a result, Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell has displayed different lineups in the first two games. It’s likely that she’ll put out a unique lineup once again as she attempts to find the team’s best formation.
“We’re excited to have a match Sunday to continue to build off Wednesday’s performance, which I think was our most complete game so far this season,” Cromwell said. “Of course, this game closes out a three-game week — two of those on the road — so, we will continue to rotate the lineup. We are familiar with Washington and certainly both teams have improved after the first three matches. We look forward to entertaining the fans at Audi Field, as I know the D.C. area has a rich soccer history.”
The biggest absence in this game will be Marta. The Pride captain suffered a knee injury in North Carolina that will keep her out for the season. However, the Pride played well without the Brazilian during the midweek, and it will be interesting to see if they can continue that away from home.
On the other side, the Spirit have dominated all three games in the tournament in terms of possession and shots. However, they have yet to win as they drew 0-0 against the Pride, 1-1 against Gotham, and 2-2 against the Courage.
The biggest issue for the Pride is on the attacking end. The defense has been strong during this tournament but the offense has struggled. Through three games, the Pride have yet to score a goal. However, they were much better against Gotham Wednesday night, hitting the woodwork twice.
Caitlin Cosme (D45), Viviana Villacorta (right knee), and Marta (SEI) remain out with long-term injuries. Additionally, Erin McLeod (right knee) is listed as out. The only other player on the injury list is Leroux (left leg) who is listed as questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.
Defenders: Carrie Lawrence, Megan Montefusco, Amy Turner, Courtney Petersen.
Midfielders: Angharad James, Gunny Jonsdottir, Meggie Dougherty Howard.
Forwards: Darian Jenkins, Mikayla Cluff, Erika Tymrak.
Bench: Kaylie Collins, Kerry Abello, Celia, Toni Pressley, Chelsee Washington, Parker Roberts, Abi Kim, Leah Pruitt.
Washington Spirit (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Devon Kerr.
Defenders: Camryn Biegalski, Karina Rodriguez, Sam Staab, Kelley O’Hara.
Defensive Midfielders: Taylor Aylmer, Andi Sullivan.
Midfielders: Anna Heilferty, Ashley Sanchez, Trinity Rodman.
Forwards: Ashley Hatch.
Bench: Aubrey Kingsbury, Nicole Barnhart, Morgan Goff, Amber Brooks, Julia Roddar, Gaby Vincent, Jordan DiBiasi, Tinaya Alexander.
REF: Sergii Demianchuk.
AR1: Ben Rigel.
AR2: Rebecca Luther.
4TH: Nickrod Fateh.
How to Watch
Match Time: 4 p.m.
Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!