Boyds, Md., (10/4/2019) – After a dramatic and historic victory over Orlando at Audi Field in August, the Washington Spirit will face the Pride again Saturday in the teams’ third and final meeting of the 2019 season. The clubs’ season series will be on the line in Orlando after each of the first two meetings were won by the home teams.
On July 6, Orlando claimed a wild 4-3 win over Washington thanks to a second-half brace by Brazilian forward Marta. The Spirit returned the favor with a 2-1 triumph in front of a club-record crowd of 19,871 on Aug. 24, with forward Ashley Hatch’s second-half headed goal making the difference.
The Pride are currently ninth place in the NWSL with a 4-15-3 record, but they have played the Spirit close in both of their matchups. After a slow start to the season, Orlando picked up its form over the summer, but is now in the midst of a five-game winless run that began with the loss to Washington at Audi Field.
With Saturday’s match taking place during a FIFA international break, both teams will be missing a number of players who were called up to their national teams. Orlando will be without Americans Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris, Australian defender Alanna Kennedy, Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky and Brazilian forward Marta.
Of the squad’s remaining players, Rachel Hill is the top scorer with three goals, including one against the Spirit in July. Haley Kopmayer will likely replace Harris in net.
Washington is coming off of one of its most impressive performances of the 2019 season, a 2-1 victory over the first-place North Carolina Courage at the Maryland SoccerPlex last weekend. With only one loss in the past six games, the Spirit are working on a strong finish to the year with just Saturday’s match and a trip to Portland next week remaining on the schedule.
In addition to usual call-ups Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh, midfielder Andi Sullivan has joined the U.S. national team for the international window. Sullivan, the Spirit’s captain, will miss NWSL action for the first time all season. Also missing Saturday’s match due to international duty will be Australians Chloe Logarzo, Amy Harrison and Elise Kellond-Knight, as well as Jamaican forward Cheyna Matthews.
Goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe has been a consistent star for Washington all year, with 80 saves currently tying her for the league lead. Hatch leads the Spirit with six goals on the year, including the memorable winner against Orlando at Audi Field in August.
Hatch's flying header!#WASvORL // #CatchTheSpirit pic.twitter.com/BJiCsJz4Yl
— Washington Spirit (@WashSpirit) August 25, 2019
Saturday’s kickoff is set for 5 p.m. ET at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Fans in the D.C. area can catch the action on Monumental Sports Network and NBC Sports Washington.