Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (2-4-1, 7 points) return home to face the first-place Washington Spirit (4-0-3, 15 points) tonight at Exploria Stadium (7 p.m., Paramount+). This is the first of two regular-season games the two teams will play, with the return game in Washington occurring on July 1.
Here’s all you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Spirit have faced off 20 times since the Pride joined the NWSL in 2016. Orlando has a record of 5-8-7 (W-L-D) in all competitions against Washington. This includes a 4-6-6 record in NWSL regular-season play and a 3-2-3 record in Orlando.
The two teams have already met once this season, facing each other on May 10 at Audi Field in the NWSL Challenge Cup. The teams were heavily rotated, so few of the players that started in that game will play tonight. However, the Pride got off to a great start when Tori Hansen scored on a backheel in the 10th minute. But the hosts took over late in the first half with long-distance goals by Lena Silano, Sam Staab, and Marissa Sheva. Ally Watt got one back early in the second half, but Ashley Sanchez put it away in second-half injury time, resulting in a 4-2 loss for the Pride.
The last regular-season clash was on July 17, 2022 at Audi Field. The Spirit dominated the game statistically, with more possession, shots, and shots on target, but they couldn’t find the back of the net, resulting in a scoreless draw.
The previous game was on May 27 at Exploria Stadium. Trinity Rodman gave the Spirit the lead early and Ashley Hatch doubled the lead after halftime. As the game entered second-half stoppage time, it appeared as though the Pride would fall for the second straight time, but a pair of late goals by Mikayla Cluff and Darian Jenkins stunned Washington with a 2-2 draw.
Prior to the draw in May, the Pride and Spirit played two games in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. The first was on March 19 in Orlando. The Pride had less possession and fewer shots, but a strong defensive effort allowed them to come away with a scoreless draw. The second Challenge Cup meeting came on April 3 at Audi Field. Gunny Jonsdottir scored the team’s first goal in four games. However, the Spirit already had a 3-0 lead. Rodman scored a late goal to put the game away as the Pride fell 4-1.
The two teams played four times during 2021. The first was on April 21 in the Challenge Cup. Sydney Leroux’s goal was the only scoring as the Pride won 1-0. Just two games later, the Pride opened their regular season by hosting the Spirit on May 16. Hatch gave Washington the lead, but Alex Morgan equalized to claim a 1-1 draw. The second regular-season meeting last year was on June 6 in Washington. Hatch opened the scoring, but Taylor Kornieck equalized minutes later, resulting in a 1-1 draw. The final meeting of 2021 came Aug. 22 at Audi Field. Marta gave the Pride the lead but Hatch equalized just two minutes later. It looked like it would be a third straight 1-1 draw but Sanchez won it for Washington late.
Due to the pandemic, the Pride and Spirit didn’t play in 2020 but faced off three times in 2019. The first was on July 6 in Orlando. Marta scored a brace in the second half, leading the Pride to a 4-3 win. They played again on Aug. 24 in Washington. Crystal Thomas gave the hosts the lead and Marta equalized. But Hatch’s goal lifted the Spirit to a 2-1 win. The final game was supposed to be the following weekend, but was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian. Instead, the game was played Oct. 9 in Orlando. The Spirit dominated the rubber match, beating the Pride 3-0.
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 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, but Leroux scored just before halftime and Marta’s goal gave Orlando the win.
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, but Danica Evans answered 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 Spirit swept the first two meetings in 2016, winning 2-0 in Maryland and 2-1 in Orlando.
The Pride started the 2023 NWSL season with four consecutive losses and it looked like it would be a long year. But Seb Hines has found his preferred lineup and the team is looking better, currently riding a three-game unbeaten run (2-0-1).
The team enters this game following two consecutive clean sheets in regular season play and the Pride haven’t conceded a goal in 258 minutes. That success can be largely attributed to the play of starting goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse and the consistent center back pairing of Megan Montefusco and Emily Madril.
The Pride most recently played to a scoreless draw against NJ/NY Gotham FC last weekend, but they were the better team. However, tonight they’ll face their toughest task since the season opener against the Portland Thorns. Washington remains unbeaten in seven regular-season games and has won its last three.
As expected, the team’s attack is led by Hatch, Sanchez, and Rodman. Hatch’s five goals and Rodman’s three goals lead the team this year. Rodman has added two assists, a team high.
While the Spirit feature a dangerous attack, they’ve been led by a very good defensive unit. They’ve only conceded multiple goals in a game once and have recorded three clean sheets, including in their last game against Angel City FC. The Spirit don’t have any injuries to that attack or back line, so it will be a tall task for the Pride to come away with points in this game.
“They’re (Washington) on a really good run right now, unbeaten all season. It was a tough game for us (last time),” Hines said. “We reviewed and some of the goals are exceptional. And we’ll be aware of that. I think it’ll be two different teams on the day, from what we saw in the Challenge Cup. But we’re on a good run as well. So we have to be mindful of them and they have to be mindful of us. We’re at home, we’re in front of our own fans, and we’re looking to continue this momentum that we’ve put together.”
Carrie Lawrence (knee) is the only Pride player out due to an injury for this game. Thais Reiss (lower leg) is listed as questionable and Amanda Allen is on international duty with Canada. Meanwhile, Washington will be without Anna Heilferty (knee), Tori Huster (lower leg), and Bayley Feist (lower leg).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.
Defenders: Kylie Strom, Megan Montefusco, Emily Madril, Haley McCutcheon.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Viviana Villacorta.
Midfielders: Adriana, Marta, Kerry Abello.
Forwards: Messiah Bright.
Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Summer Yates, Jordyn Listro, Tori Hansen, Brianna Martinez, Celia, Ally Watt, Erika Tymrak.
Washington Spirit (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Aubrey Kingsbury.
Defenders: Gabrielle Carle, Sam Staab, Tara McKeown, Amber Brooks.
Midfielders: Paige Metayer, Andi Sullivan, Ines Jaurena.
Forwards: Ashley Sanchez, Trinity Rodman, Ashley Hatch.
Bench: Dorian Bailey, Nicole Barnhart, Lyza Bosselmann, Nicole Douglas, Maddie Elwell, Civana Kuhlmann, Chloe Ricketts, Marissa Sheva, Lena Silano.
REF: Thomas Snyder.
AR1: Austin Holt.
AR2: Tom Felice.
4TH: Amiel Aleman.
VAR: Alexandra Billeter.
AVAR: Maggie Short.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!