The Orlando Pride and the shorthanded Washington Spirit each had opportunities but neither side could find a goal as the teams played to a 0-0 draw at Audi Field. The Pride (3-5-4, 13 points) are 1-0-2 in their last three matches and both 2022 regular-season matches against the Spirit (1-5-7, 10 points) finished in draws.
“Tough game today. Washington caused a lot of problems,” Orlando Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines said.
Hines deployed Erin McLeod in goal behind a back line of Kylie Strom, Toni Pressley, Megan Montefusco, and Celia. Jordyn Listro, Meggy Dougherty Howard and Viviana Villacorta played in the midfield behind attacking players Kerry Abello, Darian Jenkins, and Erika Tymrak.
The Spirit started the match on the front foot, with a bad giveaway in the second minute giving the hosts an early chance. However, Washington’s Bayley Feist wasn’t able to keep her shot on target, sending it over McLeod’s crossbar. Minutes later, Feist sent a shot toward goal that Pressley blocked out for a corner.
Washington came close on the set piece, with McLeod getting a touch but Amber Brooks got to it, sending it off the crossbar. The Spirit worked a few more corners but couldn’t make them pay off, finishing the sequence with Taylor Aylmer’s header attempt. Orlando was then finally able to clear.
Tara McKeown turned Megan Montefusco and sent a shot from the top of the box but she was unable to get it on target, missing wide of the far post in the 15th minute.
The first Pride attack with any menace came in the 16th minute when Tymrak sent a great through ball to spring Jenkins but the striker wasted the opportunity, missing the net with her shot.
Washington had a chance on another corner in the 19th minute, as the ball ended up on Aylmer’s foot just outside the top of the area, but she sent her shot right at McLeod.
In the 20th minute, Tymrak again tried to send Jenkins into the area in the 20th minute, but there was a little too much on the pass and Washington goalkeeper Devon Kerr got to the ball first.
There was a lot of play between the penalty areas in the second half of the opening period, and the next good chance didn’t come until the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Jenkins got down the right and fired a shot that forced Kerr into a good save.
Washington held advantages in both possession (56%-44%) and shots (8-2) in the opening half. The Spirit had more of the dangerous play, but the Pride got the two best looks of the half.
“Some of their tactics and styles of play…they tried to pin our wingers back and they were more direct than I’ve ever seen them. So, we had to be switched on at the back,” Hines said. “I thought we dealt with the first ball really well, but then it was anticipating the second balls and I thought it was something that we addressed at halftime.”
The Spirit got the first good look of the second half, with McLeod making an acrobatic save to deny Jordan Baggett’s shot in the box.
McKeown nearly got in down the left in the 61st minute. McLeod came off her line to apply pressure, but did well to avoid contact and conced the penalty. The Washington attacker lost the ball over the end line under McLeod’s pressure.
Julie Doyle came on for Jenkins in the 62nd minute and changed the energy of the game a bit. Doyle was active but didn’t get much done. She had a chance to get to a Dougherty Howard through ball in front of Kerr shortly after entering but stumbled before she got there and awkwardly bundled over the top of the Spirit keeper.
Aylmer sent another shot over McLeod’s crossbar moments later, as the Spirit continued to waste their opportunities.
Doyle dropped a pass to Dougherty Howard outside the top of the box in the 73rd minute, and the midfielder stepped into her shot, but she sent it at Kerr, who had no trouble with it.
As time wound down, each team got a last opportunity. In the 83rd minute, Feist did well to split the defense and the ball ended up on Audrey Harding’s foot. She had room to shoot but instead decided to pass to McKeown, who couldn’t get her shot on frame.
On the other end, substitute Abi Kim took the ball around a defender and got deep into the box, but when she got there she was torn between crossing or shooting and just a slight hesitation took the decision out of her hands, as a defender made a sliding challenge to knock it out of play.
After one more Feist shot over the goal, the match was over.
Washington dominated statistically, finishing with more possession (58.9%-41.1%), shots (17-4), shots on target (5-2), corners (7-3), and passing accuracy (82.6%-76.1%).
“I’m very happy with the result,” Hines said. “We’ve grown over the last couple of games. This is another clean sheet, so we’ll take a positive with that and, you know what? It’s fine margins. We could have gone a couple of goals up in the first half. We’ll review it and we’ll move on and prepare for Kansas.”
The Pride have a week off before heading to Kansas City on July 31 to play the Current.