Boyds, MD (July 6, 2017) – The Washington Spirit will host the Orlando Pride on Saturday in the first ever NWSL Lifetime Game of the Week played at the Maryland SoccerPlex. National TV coverage on Lifetime starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with kickoff set for 3:50 p.m. ET.
This will be the second meeting this season between Washington and Orlando. The teams played to a 1-1 draw on April 22 at Orlando City Stadium. Both sides enter the weekend coming off 1-0 losses in Week 11, with Orlando falling at home to the Chicago Red Stars and Washington looking to rebound from a road loss against the Boston Breakers.
Despite the loss in Boston, the Spirit turned in another strong defensive performance, limiting an opponent to one goal or less for the eighth time in the team’s first 11 games. Canadian international goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé and the Spirit back line have recorded clean sheets in back-to-back home games, and have not conceded a goal at home in 231 consecutive minutes, dating back to May 20 against FC Kansas City.
The Spirit back line, led by two-time NWSL Team of the Month selection Estelle Johnson, Canadian international Shelina Zadorsky and Whitney Church – all three of whom have played the maximum 990 minutes so far this season – along with Kassey Kallman, Alyssa Kleiner and the rest of the team’s deep defensive unit will be tasked with slowing down another strong attacking side.
“It’s a big game for us against another quality opponent with very good attacking abilities,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “It will be an important challenge for us to limit their threats and make the most of the opportunities we create.”
Five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta leads the visiting Orlando attack with six goals already this season, which is tied for second in the league. Marta is also tied with fellow Brazilian Camila for the team lead in assists with three. Camila and Jasmyne Spencer have found the net three times each, helping lead an offense which recently welcomed the return of U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan from a hamstring injury.
For the Spirit, Nigerian international forward Francisca Ordega ranks sixth in the NWSL with four goals already this season, and also leads the team with two assists. In their first seasons with the Spirit, Havana Solaun (3 goals, 1 assist) and Kristie Mewis (2 goals, 1 assist) have combined to score or assist seven goals. U.S. Women’s National Team forward and Spirit rookie Mallory Pugh returned from an ankle injury last weekend in Boston, playing the entire second half.
Labbé, who along with Johnson also earned her second NWSL Team of the Month selection in June, is third in the league in saves with 49 entering the weekend. She will face a Pride offense which ranks fifth in the league in shots on goal with 62 so far this season.
This will be the fourth all-time meeting between Washington and Orlando, as the Spirit enter the match unbeaten so far in the series with two wins and a draw.
|All-time||3||2||0||1||5||2||+ 3 WAS|
|At WAS||1||1||0||0||2||0||+ 2 WAS|