Leesburg, VA., (04/20/2021) – The Washington Spirit will face the Orlando Pride in the final away match of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup Presented by Secret Deodorant on Wednesday, April 21 at 7 pm ET at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, FL. The match will be broadcasted on Paramount+ in the US and on Twitch for international viewers.
This is the first time since October 5, 2019, that these two teams will face off after the Pride did not participate in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.
The Orlando Pride opened the 2021 Challenge Cup on the road against Racing Louisville on April 10. That match ended in a 2-2 draw after a stoppage-time goal by Louisville forced the team to split the points. Orlando then returned home last week to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC. That match ended with Gotham FC taking home all three points in a 1-0 victory.
Orlando has shown flashes offensively so far this season and much of that is thanks to forward Taylor Kornieck who has a goal and seven shots through two games. Two other players the Pride will lean on to get their offense going are forward Sydney Leroux, who leads the Pride in shots (10) and shots on goal (4), and former Spirit midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, who had assists on both Pride goals in their opener.
On the defensive side of the ball, look out for the matchups out on the wings. The veterans Ali Krieger and Ali Riley patrol the flanks for the Pride and Gotham FC’s goal last week came after beating Krieger in a foot race. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris is coming off a game in which she made two saves and a big penalty kick stop.
The Spirit are coming off a big match against Racing Louisville in which the young guns grabbed the victory late for the home team at Audi Field. The combination up top of Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman is coming alive at just the right moment. The pair finished off what was an impressive 13 pass sequence to give the Spirit the 1-0 victory. Keep an eye on these two as they continue to develop, especially with the Spirit nearing their full roster.
After missing the first two games due to games with the USWNT, captain Andi Sullivan and new acquisitions Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett will return to the lineup on Wednesday. This will allow for a look at what is expected to be the closest edition of the new formation for the Spirit that has been seen so far this season.
One thing that the Spirit hope to continue from the last match is the high passing accuracy amongst the team. Against Racing Louisville, four starters turned in passing accuracies of 85 percent or higher and the team’s overall passing accuracy was above 80 percent for the second straight match. As the formation and system change for the Spirit, this will be a point to keep an eye on to see how well the Spirit are doing.