The Orlando Pride (2-2-1, 7 points) look to shake off a tough loss Sunday night as they host the Washington Spirit (1-1-2, 5 points) at Exploria Stadium tonight (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) This is the third time the two teams have played this year, but the first in the NWSL regular season. They will face off again in the regular season on July 17 at Audi Field.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Spirit have played 17 times since the Pride joined the NWSL in 2016. Orlando has a 5-7-5 (W-L-D) record in all competitions against Washington in that time and has gone 4-6-4 in 14 games in regular season games. Additionally, the Pride are 4-2-3 at home against the Spirit in all competitions and 3-2-2 at home in the regular season.
The Pride and Spirit have played two games this year, both in the Challenge Cup. In the first game on March 19 in Orlando, the Pride were out-possessed and out-shot, but were able to come away with a scoreless draw. They met again on April 3 at Audi Field and it was a different story. Gunny Jonsdottir scored the Pride’s first goal in four games in the 54th minute, but the team already trailed 3-0. A late goal by Trinity Rodman resulted in the Pride falling 4-1.
The teams played four times during the 2021 season, including three regular-season games. In the Challenge Cup, Sydney Leroux’s 11th-minute goal gave the Pride a home win, their only one of the tournament. Two games later, they opened the season against Washington at Exploria Stadium. Ashley Hatch gave the Spirit the lead in the 76th minute, but Alex Morgan answered eight minutes later to pull out a 1-1 draw. They met again in Washington on June 6. Hatch gave the hosts the lead in the 64th minute, but Taylor Kornieck equalized just three minutes later and they drew 1-1. The final meeting last year was on Aug. 22 at Audi Field. This time, Orlando took the lead through a Marta goal, but then the Pride fell apart, conceding twice to lose 2-1.
The Pride and Spirit weren’t matched together in the 2020 Fall Series, so they didn’t play that year. In 2019, they met three times. The first was on July 6 in Orlando. Marta netted a brace in the high-scoring affair as the Pride came away with a 4-3 win. The second game was on Aug. 24. Marta’s goal wasn’t enough, as Crystal Thomas and Hatch gave Washington the 2-1 win. The teams were supposed to play the following weekend, but Hurricane Dorian caused a postponement. The game was eventually played on Oct. 9 in Orlando. It was all Spirit, as they came away with a 3-0 win.
The first of two meetings in 2018 was on March 31 at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Hatch scored a goal and added an assist in a 2-0 win for the Spirit. The Pride got their revenge in the second game in the same location. Alanna Kennedy’s 11th-minute goal was the difference as the Pride won 1-0. The final meeting that year was on July 7 in Orlando. Hatch gave the Spirit the lead in the 26th minute, but Leroux scored just before halftime and Marta gave Orlando the win in the 86th minute.
The 2017 season was the first time the teams played three times in a year. Their April 22 meeting was the Pride’s first home game that year. Line Sigvardsen-Jensen gave the visitors the lead in the 60th minute, but Danica Evans answered in the 86th minute, as the teams drew 1-1. They met for the second time that year in Maryland on July 8 when Marta and Mallory Pugh both scored braces in a 2-2 draw. The final game in 2018 was on Aug. 8 in Orlando. Marta, Camila, and Morgan all scored as the Pride ran away with a 3-0 win.
The teams played for the first time during the 2016 NWSL season. The first game was on June 18 in Maryland. Estefania Banini and Francisca Ordega scored first-half goals as the Spirit won 2-0. The second game that year occurred on Aug. 26 at Camping World Stadium. Sarah Hagen scored for the Pride, but Cheyna Williams and Christine Nairn had already given the Spirit the lead, resulting in a 2-1 Washington win.
The Pride are coming off a difficult week in which they had three games in nine days. They started that stretch with a disappointing 2-2 draw against the Kansas City Current, but bounced back with a 2-1 win over the North Carolina Courage. The Pride were confident going into Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Red Stars, but played very poorly and lost 4-2.
Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell seemed to find her best lineup with strong performances against Angel City FC and the Current. After a makeshift lineup against the Courage to provide rest for some key players, she displayed a nearly identical lineup against Chicago Sunday night, only replacing Mikayla Cluff with Viviana Villacorta.
After two strong performances with that team, the Pride were terrible out of the gate Sunday night. The team ended the game with 78.1% passing accuracy, but most of that success was short passes in the back. When the team went forward, it played the ball to the opposition more frequently than to an open space or a teammate.
Cromwell spoke about the team’s passing problems after the game and apologized to the fans for the poor showing.
“Our passing percentage was poor, our pressure cover defense was poor, our ability to track...obviously we had tired legs. We had three games this week, they did not. But there’s still no excuse for that at halftime,” Cromwell said Sunday night. “We rested players so we would be ready for this game. I really want to apologize to our home crowd, because they deserve better when they come out to see us.”
As a result of the performance, Cromwell said that there would be changes to the lineup against Washington. While those changes have yet to be announced, Cromwell was particularly unhappy with the partnership of Carrie Lawrence and Celia on the right side of the back line.
In all likelihood, Amy Turner will return to the starting lineup tonight and will likely be paired with Toni Pressley. Lawrence has played well at center back and was a bright spot in the first half against Chicago. However, she was the only field player to play all 270 minutes last week. The coaching staff will probably give the young defender a much-needed break.
The Washington Spirit are the defending NWSL champions, returning several starters from that team — most notably an offense consisting of Hatch, Ashley Sanchez, and Trinity Rodman.
The Spirit haven’t started the season as many expected, winning only one of their first four games. However, the team’s only loss is a 1-0 defeat to Angel City FC and the Spirit are coming off a pair of draws on the road against the Portland Thorns and OL Reign.
“(Washington will) be very good. They have players back. (Andi) Sullivan is back. Honestly, we want to play teams at their best because that’s how we are going to get better,” Cromwell said about tonight’s game. “We showed from the first game in the Challenge Cup what we can do defensively, by defending together and having really condensed blocks and making it hard for them. I think in-transition moments is going to be key because they are so fast on the transition. So, we just have to make sure we take care of the ball and don’t give them those transition moments.”
After coming off the bench Sunday night, Angharad James (right ankle) is listed as out. Additionally, Kylie Strom (COVID protocol) joins Marta (SEI) as unavailable. However, 2022 draft pick Caitlin Cosme (left knee) has been upgraded to questionable.
The Spirit have a longer list of players out for this game, including Tori Huster (lower left leg), Gaby Vincent (calf), Tara McKeown (foot), Averie Collins (knee), Jordan Baggett (concussion protocol), Dorian Bailey (cheekbone), and Kelley O’Hara (excused absence).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, Celia.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Viviana Villacorta.
Attacking Midfielders: Darian Jenkins, Gunny Jonsdottir, Sydney Leroux.
Forwards: Leah Pruitt.
Bench: Anna Moorhouse, Kerry Abello, Roni Pressley, Jordyn Listro, Chelsee Washington, Erik Tymrak, Parker Roberts, Abi Kim, Julie Doyle.
Washington Spirit (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Kingsbury.
Defenders: Andi Sullivan, Sam Staab, Emily Sonnett, Anna Heilferty.
Defensive Midfielders: Julia Roddar, Audrey Harding.
Attacking Midfielders: Ashley Hatch, Bayley Feist, Trinity Rodman.
Forwards: Ashley Sanchez.
Bench: Nicole Barnhart, Tinaya Alexander, Taylor Aylmer, Camryn Biegalski, Amber Brooks, Madison Elwell, Morgan Goff, Devon Kerr, Karina Rodriguez.
REF: Matt Thompson.
AR1: Joe Suchoski.
AR2: Rhett Hammil.
4TH: Richonne Clark.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!