By Owen Krucoff
Boyds, Md., (7/5/19) – The Washington Spirit will play their 11th match of the 2019 season at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, against the Orlando Pride this Saturday.
The second-place Spirit are looking to maintain their position in the NWSL’s playoff spots, while the eighth-place Pride need to kickstart a campaign which has begun with eight losses in their first eleven games.
Although it has been a tough start to the season for Orlando, the Pride will surely benefit from having one of the best players in the world back from international duty. Brazilian legend Marta scored in her first game back from the World Cup, a 3-2 loss at Chicago last week, and she is expected to remain a threat in her first home appearance since May.
The Pride also boast five other players who recently returned from France: Defender Alanna Kennedy and midfielder Emily van Egmond (Australia), defender Camila Pereira (Brazil), defender Shelina Zadorsky (Canada) and forward Claire Emslie (Scotland).
Marta and the Pride will be up against Washington’s stout defense, which is off to a dominant start to the year. Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe leads the NWSL with 45 saves, and the team’s five clean sheets are the second-most in the league.
Orlando is the only NWSL team the Spirit have yet to play this season. The remaining two meetings between the sides will be in August, including a matchup at Audi Field in D.C. on August 24.
Midfielders Amy Harrison and Chloe Logarzo (Australia) and forward Cheyna Matthews (Jamaica) will be in their second match for the Spirit since returning from World Cup duty. All three saw playing time in last weekend’s loss to the North Carolina Courage, but may have a crack at their first full 90 since the World Cup with this weekend’s game.
Besides picking up a big three points in the standings, the winner of Saturday’s match will also take over the all-time series lead between the two clubs. In eight meetings since Orlando joined the league in 2016, the Spirit and Pride each have three wins and 10 goals scored against each other.
Saturday’s kickoff in Orlando is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. Spirit fans can catch the action on NBC Sports Washington and Monumental Sports Network.