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Washington, D.C. (06/30/2023) – The Washington Spirit will face the Orlando Pride in both sides’ 14th regular season match of 2023. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. EDT at Audi Field in Washington, D.C. and will broadcast nationally on Paramount+ for fans across the United States. International viewers can stream the match on NWSLSoccer.com.
Entering the match off only its second loss of the 2023 regular season, the Spirit looks to get back on track in a return to Audi Field. First place Portland Thorns FC handily defeated the Spirit, 4-2, continuing the Spirit’s winless streak at Providence Park.
Last Friday’s match marked the 183rd regular season match for Head Coach Mark Parsons, who now only trails OL Reign’s Laura Harvey for the most regular season matches coached in the NWSL. Ashley Hatch netted the first Spirit goal, her seventh of the season. It marked Hatch’s fifth time scoring seven or more regular season goals in a season, equaling Christine Sinclair and Lynn Williams for the most such seasons in NWSL history. Ashley Sanchez found the back of the net and also assisted Hatch’s goal. It was Sanchez’s third goal in as many games – her first time accomplishing that feat – and the first time assisting and scoring in the same match.
Coincidentally, the Spirit’s only other regular season loss came at the hands of the Orlando Pride, in a 1-2 grudge match on May 20. In that match, Orlando’s Marta scored her first goal since 2021 and also assisted on the game-winning goal. It was the third time in Marta’s career logging both an assist and a goal. Sam Staab scored in the match, extending her streak of scoring in every regular season of her career. Following the Spirit’s first loss, the team tied 1-1 with NJ/NY Gotham FC at home the next week. Saturday’s match will be the third of four scheduled meetings between the east coast rivals.
The Spirit roster will look a little different on Saturday. Six Spirit players received call-ups to their respective countries to compete in this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup – Aubrey Kingsbury (United States), Trinity Rodman (United States), Ashley Sanchez (United States), Marissa Sheva (Ireland), Andi Sullivan (United States) and Riley Tanner (Panama). Recomposed, the roster will feature a number of Spirit players looking to flourish in new roles in the upcoming months.
Notably, the Spirit is undefeated at home this regular season, joining Thorns FC as the only teams to not drop a game at home. The Spirit is tied with Gotham FC for a league-low four goals conceded at home and has not given up more than one goal in a match at home this season, the only team yet to give up multiple home goals. In fact, only one NWSL team has finished a season without conceding multiple goals in a home game (Gotham FC in 2021).
Additionally, look for Hatch to flourish on Saturday. She had a six-game goal scoring streak against Orlando, the longest streak of appearances with a goal against a single opponent in NWSL history, that was snapped last month. Hatch has scored nine goals in 18 appearances against Orlando, matching her career high against a single opponent (vs. Courage in 17 apps, all comps). She will likely be itching to put another in the back of the net.
Following Saturday’s match, the Spirit will travel west again, playing San Diego Wave FC on Saturday, July 8 at 10 p.m. EDT.
Orlando travels to Washington, D.C. following a chaotic week. The Pride should be coming off a home Wednesday night UKG NWSL Challenge Cup matchup against NJ/NY Gotham FC; however, the game was canceled due to severe weather and travel delays. The game has been rescheduled to Sunday, July 23.
Instead, the Pride enter the match following a 1-2 loss to the Kansas City Current. This loss snapped a three-game winning streak for Orlando at Exploria Stadium. In that match, Marta became the club’s all-time leader in appearances (95), passing Toni Pressley. Marta was the lone Pride goal scorer as well, her second of the season – both coming from penalty kicks.
Currently, the Pride sits at 10th on the NWSL table after fluctuating around the bottom half all season. The team is 4-8-1, scoring 11 goals in 13 matches, second-lowest in the league. Four of its last five matches have resulted in losses, with the sole victory, oddly, coming against league-best Thorns FC in a 3-1 rout.
The Spirit is looking to capitalize on the home environment, especially due to the Pride’s poor performance on the road this season. The Pride have won away from Exploria Stadium only once this season and lost a league-high five times – two more than the next closest team. Ironically, the Pride have logged the third-most road shots in the NWSL. Additionally, the Pride have conceded 13 road goals, second-worst only to Chicago.
Road troubles have run deeper than just this season for the Pride. Orlando has won just once on the road in nine league matches since September 2022 (D1, L7), the only road game in that time in which the Pride scored a goal. The eight road games where the Pride were held scoreless is the most in NWSL in that time, with Racing Louisville FC’s five such games being the next closest.
The Pride like to get the ball into play, as its 81 corners and 255 crosses on the season are the second-most in the NWSL. Orlando also leads the NWSL in tackles won (170). Conversely, the Pride are not very accurate. Its 6.15% shot conversion rate in worst in the NWSL.
Next up, the Orlando Pride face OL Reign at home on Friday, July 7 at 7 p.m. EDT.