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Orlando, Fla. (05/20/2023) – The Spirit dropped its first regular season match of 2023 on Saturday night, falling 2-1 to east coast rival Orlando Pride. The loss snapped the side’s club record seven-match point streak to start a season.
In the first ten minutes of action, Orlando controlled the pace and possession of the game – the Pride recorded a 60% possession total as well as ten final third entries and three touches inside the opponent’s box.
Rodman was later given a yellow card in the 15th minute while trying to provide support on defense. The Spirit was the lone recipient of disciplinary action, as Andi Sullivan received the second of two first half yellow cards in the 36th.
The Spirit’s first true attacking threat came in the 17th when midfielder Paige Metayer connected with midfielder Ashley Sanchez who logged the team’s first shot on goal. Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Kingsbury logged a save of her own off a shot from the Pride’s Messiah Bright, who leads Orlando with two goals this season. Sanchez put two shots on goal in the first 21 minutes of play.
Pride forward Adriana, who entered the match with the most big chances created in the NWSL, would be taken down by Spirit defender Amber Brooks inside the box, setting up a penalty kick for the Pride. Marta, a six-time FIFA World Player of the Year, took and made the penalty in the 23rd for her first goal since October 2021. It was her ninth career goal versus the Spirit. Marta’s goal marked the first deficit the Spirit has faced the entire 2023 regular season. Washington played one scoreless draw and scored first in every other match this season.
The goal was Staab’s first of the 2023 regular season and second through all competitions against Orlando. She has now scored at least once in every regular season of her career. Additionally, it was Jaurena’s first career NWSL assist.
The second half proceeded in similar fashion, with both teams jockeying for control of the game. Center backs Staab and Tara McKeown stopped a run from Orlando’s Bright. The Spirit answered as forward Trinity Rodman delivered a through ball to Sanchez, who was left with a one-on-one matchup against Moorhouse. Sanchez ran out of room, and Moorhouse grabbed the ball from Sanchez’s feet, eliminating a sure-goal for the Spirit.
Sullivan and Dorian Bailey, who subbed in for Brooks at halftime, added to the action soon after with bombs from well outside the box, both of which were stopped by Moorhouse. The Orlando keeper recorded five saves in under 60 minutes of play. Rodman concluded the Spirit barrage with a header that went just over the upper frame of the goal.
In the 70th, forward Ashley Hatch was subbed for forward Lena Silano. Hatch, who entered the match with goals in six consecutive games versus the Orlando Pride (an NWSL record for consecutive games with a goal against a single opponent), finished the game without a shot.
Despite the Spirit’s relentless pressure, Orlando broke the stalemate in the 77th. The Pride took two corners in two minutes, and the second ended with a header from Strom roofing over Kingsbury. This was only the third goal scored in the second half all season for Orlando. Strom’s goal was her second since she joined the Pride last season. Additionally, the goal was assisted by Marta – the third time in her career logging a goal and an assist in an NWSL match and the first time since 2017.
The waning moments of the game saw the Spirit’s McKeown pick up a yellow card in the 83rd and Kingsbury keep the team in the game with a diving save on a free kick from Adriana. Even with a wave of substitutions before the final stoppage time, the Spirit was unable to level the score, dropping its first match of the 2023 regular season.
Next up, the Spirit returns to Audi Field, hosting NJ/NY Gotham FC on Sunday, May 28 at 5 p.m. EDT for the team’s Salute to Service Game.
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit
Date: May 20, 2023
Venue: Exploria Stadium
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Weather: Sunny, low-70s
ORL – Marta – 23’ (PK)
WAS – Sam Staab – 28’
ORL – Kylie Strom – 77′
ORL: 21- Anna Moorhouse; 3- Kylie Strom; 6- Emily Madril; 5- Megan Montefusco; 2- Haley McCutheon; 14- Viviana Villacorta; 8- Mikayla Cluff; 9- Adriana; 10- Marta (32- Brianna Martinez – 92’); 25- Kerry Abello (19- Jordyn Listro – 93’); 23- Messiah Bright (11- Ally Watt – 66’)
Unused Substitutes: 31- Carly Nelson; 13- Celia Jiménez; 15- Erika Tymrak; 22- Tori Hansen; 26- Caitlin Cosme; 28- Summer Yates
WAS: 1- Aubrey Kingsbury; 3- Sam Staab; 9- Tara McKeown; 14- Gabrielle Carle; 22- Amber Brooks (19- Dorian Bailey – 46’); 7- Inès Jaurena (39- Chloe Ricketts – 81’); 12- Andi Sullivan; 26- Paige Metayer (25- Marissa Sheva – 89’); 2- Trinity Rodman; 10- Ashley Sanchez (17- Nicole Douglas – 89); 33- Ashley Hatch (24- Lena Silano – 70’)
Unused Substitutes: 28- Nicole Barnhart; 18- Lyza Bosselmann; 30- Camryn Biegalski; 16- Maddie Elwell; 20- Civana Kuhlmann
Stats Summary: ORL / WAS
Shots: 14 / 9
Shots On Goal: 4 / 6
Blocked Shots: 2 / 0
Saves: 5 / 2
Tackles Won: 6 / 12
Fouls: 10 / 12
Offsides: 0 / 0
WAS – Trinity Rodman – 15’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Andi Sullivan – 36’ – Yellow Card
WAS – Tara McKeown – 83’ – Yellow Card
ORL – Haley McCutheon – 95’ – Yellow Card