Preview: Spirit Looks to Earn First Challenge Cup Points at Audi Field Versus Orlando

Washington Spirit  |   May 9, 2023
Preview: Spirit Looks to Earn First Challenge Cup Points at Audi Field Versus Orlando Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (05/09/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Orlando Pride on Wednesday evening in both sides’ second match of the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on as well.


The Spirit

The Spirit enters its second Challenge Cup match of the season with momentum stemming from a decisive 3-1 regular season victory at Audi Field against San Diego Wave FC. Three different Spirit players scored, including first-year midfielder Paige Metayerwho scored her first career NWSL goal. With a goal and an assist, Trinity Rodman became the first player in the history of the NWSL to record at least 10 goals and 10 assists in the regular season before turning 21.


In the team’s first 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup match, the Spirit was shutout, 0-1, by NJ/NY Gotham FC on the road. Several first-year players – Nicole DouglasCivana Kuhlmann and Lena Silano – made their first-career NWSL start (any competition).


In 18 total Challenge Cup games, the Spirit has not beaten any team more than once but can change that Wednesday night. The Spirit’s first Challenge Cup win against Orlando came on April 3, 2022, its most recent Challenge Cup match against the side. The match resulted in a 4-1 victory that saw four different Spirit players score. In group stage Challenge Cup matches, the Spirit owns a 1-1-1 record against Orlando.


Last season, the Spirit advanced to the Challenge Cup Final, losing to North Carolina in the title match. That match was the only Spirit loss throughout the entire 2022 Challenge Cup. Despite this, the Spirit is winless in its four most recent Challenge Cup matches (the team’s 9-8 penalty kick edge over OL Reign in the 2022 Challenge Cup semifinal counts as a draw), with its last victory coming against Gotham FC on April 17, 2022.


The Spirit ranks first in NWSL Challenge Cup history in shots on target (106) and possession (53.05%) and ranks second in both passing accuracy (78.03%) and touches in the opponent’s box (456). Additionally, the Spirit has not lost at home in Challenge Cup history, making the side one of three teams (North Carolina Courage, OL Reign) to do so.


Following Wednesday’s match, the Spirit will travel to Los Angeles to play Angel City FC on Saturday, May 13 at 10 p.m. EDT. It will be the team’s third game in eight days.


The Opposition

The Pride’s last match was a 1-0 victory over Racing Louisville FC, Orlando’s second consecutive regular season victory. Before that, the Pride also beat San Diego Wave FC, 3-1. Prior to those games, the Pride occupied the bottom of the NWSL regular season table, beaten in its first four games. In that time, the Pride was outscored 10-1 by opponents. Since, Orlando has picked up six points and a +3 goal differential.


The first Challenge Cup match for Orlando resulted in a 1-1 draw against North Carolina. Forward Ally Watt scored the lone goal for the Pride, while the Courage tied the game in the ninth minute of second half stoppage time. In her NWSL Challenge Cup career, Watt has two goals and an assist across nine matches. Conversely, in 29 NWSL regular season and playoff matches, she has recorded one goal and no assists.


In Challenge Cup history, the Pride has won only one game in 11 total matches – the fewest number of wins among NWSL teams that have played more than ten Challenge Cup matches. Coincidentally, the Pride’s sole victory came against the Spirit on April 21, 2021. Last season, the Pride was winless in six Challenge Cup matches, finishing last in the East Division.


The team’s all-time Challenge Cup leaders in goals (Gunny Jónsdóttir, Darian Jenkins), assists (Meggie Doughtery Howard), saves (Ashlyn Harris) and games played (Courtney Petersen) are all no longer with the team.


Next up, Orlando continues its road trip, traveling to Harrison, NJ to face off against NJ/NY Gotham FC on Sunday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. EDT.



  • UKG will double the prize pool for the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup, bringing the first-ever million-dollar prize pool to U.S. professional women’s soccer. UKG and the NWSL are co-launching a “Challenge Accepted” campaign which emphasizes the unwavering support for equity both on and off the field.
  • The Spirit owns a 7-5-7 all-time record against Orlando, including a 5-1-3 home record. The Spirit has not lost (3-0-2) in five games played at Audi versus the Pride. Five of the last seven meetings between the two sides have ended in draws with the Spirit winning the other two games. Prior to that, there had been just two draws in the first 12 matches in the series.
  • Trinity Rodman’s goals + assists total (9) in the Challenge Cup leads the team. The next closest player has six. She is the only player to have at least four goals and four assists in Challenge Cup history. Additionally, her nine goals + assists are second to only Debinha (11).
  • The Spirit is winless (0-3-3) in weekday Challenge Cup matches.
  • Former Spirit players meet again:
    • Pride defender Megan Montefusco played with the Spirit from 2015-16, making 35 appearances in that time.
  • Former college teammates meet again:
    • Spirit midfielder Marissa Sheva played with Pride defender Kerry Abello at Penn State (2017-18).
    • Spirit midfielder Ashley Sanchez played with Pride midfielder Viviana Villacorta at UCLA (2017-19).
    • Spirit defender Tara McKeown played with Pride goalkeeper Kaylie Collins at USC (2017 – 20/21).
    • Spirit defender Gabrielle Carle played with Pride defender Emily Madril at Florida State, under current Spirit President of Soccer Operations/General Manager Mark Krikorian (2017-21).
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