Photo Credit: Tony Quinn/ISI Photos
BOYDS, Md. (Aug 25, 2016) – The Washington Spirit (10-3-2, 32 points) looks to extend its lead at the top of the NWSL standings with a Friday night game on the road against the Orlando Pride (6-9-0, 18 points) at Camping World Stadium on August 26th at 7:30 p.m. This match will serve as the second ever meeting between the two teams as Orlando wraps up its inaugural year in the NWSL and is expected to feature the return of U.S. Olympian Crystal Dunn to the Spirit lineup.
In the first ever match between the two teams back on June 18 at the Maryland SoccerPlex, the Spirit earned a 2-0 win over the Pride with goals from Argentine international Estefania Banini and second year Nigerian international Francisca Ordega. While Ordega should feature again for the visitors in Orlando, Banini was ruled out of action for 4-6 weeks following minor knee surgery back in Washington on Wednesday.
In the Spirit’s last match on Thursday, August 18 against the Houston Dash, the team used their game-in-hand to secure sole posession of 1st place with a 2-1 win. Midfielder Christine Nairn scored both goals for the Spirit, including a spectactuar 40-yard shot for the game-winner after dispossesing the Dash in midfield.
The Spirit showed the depth of its bench while missing its United States and Canada internationals to the Olympics, securing four wins in five games, including two clean sheets pitched by goalkeeper Kelsey Wys and her defensive unit. Eight different Spirit players – including Banini, Ordega, and Nairn – found the back of the net over the same period.
Pride forwards Sarah Hagen, Jamia Fields, Jasmyne Spencer, and a potential return of Alex Morgan will be a true test for the Spirit’s ever-changing backline. However, despite various combinations of players including Alyssa Kleiner, Ali Krieger, Megan Oyster, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson, and Caprice Dydasco, the Spirit’s backline has proven to be one of the most lethal in the league with just 13 goals against, behind only the Portland Thorns’ 12 allowed.
The match will be live streamed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/ebR4jGW7_pU
A win Friday, combined with a loss Saturday by both Sky Blue FC and Seattle Reign FC, would make the Spirit the first team to clinch an NWSL playoff spot, having accumulated 35 points from 16 games and only three other teams capable of reaching Washington’s points accumulation.
The Washington Spirit will return home next week for a game against the Western New York Flash on Saturday, September 3 at 7 p.m. For tickets fans can go to tickets.washingtonspirit.com