The Orlando Pride (2-2-1, 7 points) are looking to shake off a tough loss on Sunday night as they host the Washington Spirit (1-1-2, 5 points) at Exploria Stadium tonight (7 p.m., CBS Sports Network) are. This is the third time the two teams have played this year, but the first time in the NWSL regular season. They will compete again in the regular season on July 17 at Audi Field.
Here’s everything you need to know about today’s game.
The Pride and Spirit have played 17 times since joining the NWSL in 2016. Orlando has a 5-7-5 (WLD) record against Washington in all competitions during that stint and has won 4-6-4 in 14 regular season games. Additionally, the Pride is 4-2-3 at home to Spirit in all competitions and 3-2-2 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 had possession and outnumbered, but managed to walk away to a goalless draw. They met again at Audi Field on April 3rd and it was a different story. Gunny Jonsdottir scored the Pride’s first goal in four games in the 54th minute, but the team were already 3-0 down. A late Trinity Rodman goal resulted in the Pride losing 4-1.
The teams played four times in the 2021 season, including three regular season games. At the Challenge Cup, Sydney Leroux’s 11th-minute goal gave the Pride a home win, their only win of the tournament. Two games later, they opened the season against Washington at Exploria Stadium. Ashley Hatch put Spirit ahead in the 76th minute but Alex Morgan responded eight minutes later to make it 1-1. On June 6, they met again in Washington. Hatch put the hosts ahead in the 64th minute, but Taylor Kornieck equalized just three minutes later and they drew 1-1. The last meeting last year took place on August 22 at Audi Field. This time, Orlando took the lead through a goal from Marta, but then the Pride fell apart, losing twice, 1-2.
Pride and Spirit weren’t brought together in the Fall 2020 series, so they didn’t play that year. In 2019 they met three times. The first was in Orlando on July 6th. Marta scored a brace in the high-scoring affair as the Pride won 4-3. The second game took place on August 24th. Marta’s goal wasn’t enough as Crystal Thomas and Hatch gave Washington a 2-1 win. The teams were scheduled to play the following weekend, but Hurricane Dorian caused a postponement. The game was eventually played in Orlando on October 9th. It was all ghost as they walked away in a 3-0 win.
The first of two meetings in 2018 took place on March 31st at the Maryland SoccerPlex. Hatch scored and added an assist in Spirit’s 2-0 win. The Pride retaliated in the same spot in the second game. Alanna Kennedy’s 11th-minute goal was the difference as Pride won 1-0. The last meeting of the year took place in Orlando on July 7th. Hatch put Spirit ahead in the 26th minute but Leroux scored just before half-time and Marta gave Orlando the win in the 86th minute.
The 2017 season marked the first time the teams played three times in one year. Their meeting on April 22 was the Pride’s first home game of the year. Line Sigvardsen-Jensen put the visitors ahead in the 60th minute, but Danica Evans responded in the 86th minute in a 1-1 draw. They met for the second time of the year in Maryland on July 8 when Marta and Mallory Pugh both scored twice in a 2-2 draw. The final game of 2018 took place in Orlando on August 8th. Marta, Camila and Morgan all scored as the Pride ran away in 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 in Spirit’s 2-0 win. The second game of the year took place on August 26th at Camping World Stadium. Sarah Hagen scored for The Pride but Cheyna Williams and Christine Nairn had already put Spirit ahead in a 2-1 victory in Washington.
The Pride have endured a difficult week in which they had three games in nine days. They started this stage with a disappointing 2-2 draw against Kansas City Current but bounced back with a 2-1 win over North Carolina Courage. The Pride went into Sunday night’s game against the Chicago Red Stars confident but played very poorly and lost 4-2.
Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell appeared to have found her best line-up with strong performances against Angel City FC and The Current. After a provisional line-up against Courage to give some key players some rest, she showed a nearly identical line-up against Chicago on Sunday night, replacing only Mikayla Cluff with Viviana Villacorta.
After two strong performances with this team, Sunday night’s Pride was terrible from the start. The team finished the game with a 78.1% passing accuracy rate, but most of that success came from short passes to the back. When the team went forward, they played the ball to an opponent more often than to a vacant space or a teammate.
Cromwell spoke about the team’s passing problems after the game and apologized to fans for the poor performance.
“Our passing rate was bad, our pressure defense was bad, our ability to track…obviously we had tired legs. We had three games this week, they didn’t. But there’s no excuse for that at half-time,” Cromwell said on Sunday night. “We have rested the players so that we are ready for this game. I really want to apologize to our home crowd because they deserve better when they come to us.”
As a result of the performance, Cromwell said there would be changes in the lineup against Washington. While those changes are yet to be announced, Cromwell was particularly unhappy with Carrie Lawrence and Celia’s partnership on the right side of the back line.
In all likelihood, Amy Turner will return to the starting lineup tonight and is likely to be paired with Toni Pressley. Lawrence played well at center back and was a bright spot in the first half against Chicago. However, last week she was the only outfield player to play all 270 minutes. The coaching staff will probably give the young defender a much-needed break.
The Washington Spirit are the defending NWSL champions and bring back several starters from this team – most notably an offense consisting of Hatch, Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman.
The Spirit did not start the season as many expected, winning just one of their first four games. However, the team’s only loss is a 1-0 defeat at Angel City FC, and Spirit conceded two away draws against the Portland Thorns and OL Reign.
“(Washington will) be very good. You have player back. (Andi) Sullivan is back. Honestly, we want to play against teams at their best because that’s how we get better,” Cromwell said of tonight’s game. “We showed in the Challenge Cup from the first game what we can do defensively by defending together and blocking properly and making it difficult for them. I think transitional moments will be key because they transition so quickly. So we just have to be careful that we’re watching the ball and not giving them those transitional moments.”
Angharad James (right ankle) is out after coming off the bench on Sunday night. Additionally, Kylie Strom (COVID protocol) joins Marta (SEI) as unavailable. However, draft pick 2022 Caitlin Cosme (left knee) was upgraded to questionable.
The Spirit has a longer list of players for this game including Tori Huster (lower left leg), Gaby Vincent (calf), Tara McKeown (foot), Averie Collins (knee), Jordan Baggett (concussion log), Dorian Bailey (cheekbone) and Kelley O’Hara (apologies for absence).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defender: Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Amy Turner, Celia.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Megan Montefusco.
Attacking midfielders: Darian Jenkins, Gunny Jonsdottir, Sydney Leroux.
Forward: Leah Pruitt.
Washington Spirit (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Kingsbury.
Defender: Camryn Biegalski, Sam Staab, Emily Sonnett, and Anna Heilferty.
Defensive Midfielders: Julia Roddar, Andi Sullivan.
Attacking midfielders: Ashley Hatch, Bayley Feist, Trinity Rodman.
Forward: Ashley Sanchez.
REF: Matt Thompson.
AR1: Joe Suchoski.
AR2: Rhett Hammil.
4th: Richonne Clark.
how to watch
playing time: 19 o’clock
Venue: Exploria Stadium – Orlando.
TV: CBS sports network.
Stream: Twitch (International).
enjoy the game Walk proud!