After a week off due to the FIFA International Window, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season resumes this weekend with Orlando Pride traveling to face the Houston Dash Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium. The 8:30 p.m. ET match will kickoff a home-and-home series with the Texas-based team, as the Dash venture into Orlando City Stadium next week on June 24.
“In this league, you can’t look past any opponent or expect to take three points from any game,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “Houston is a dangerous team and, though they are on the bottom of the table, they have to ability to beat any team on any day. I think we showed the standings mean nothing a few weeks ago, so we are going into Saturday knowing we’ll have to work hard to leave with points.”
Though the Dash sit at the bottom of the table, they may get a big boost to their lineup as midfielder Carli Lloyd is expected to be available for the match. Lloyd, the back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, recently completed an offseason stint with Manchester City Women in England.
Both the Pride and Dash played their last match two weeks ago, with Orlando defeating Boston 2-0 and Houston falling 2-0 to the Washington Spirit. The Pride strung together perhaps its best team performance against Boston, with Sermanni rolling out a unique lineup that featured four center backs and rookie Rachel Hill in her first professional start.
The home team scored the only two goals it would need within the first 13 minutes, as Marta put in a penalty kick and Jasmyne Spencer finished a goal-mouth cross from Camila. Both Marta and Spencer are tied for the team lead with three goals apiece, while Camila leads the squad with three assists. The offensive performance was backed up by a stout defensive stand, leading to goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe’s first career win and first career shutout.
The tables were turned on the Dash last week when they were shutout by then last-place Washington. Goals by Cheyna Williams and Mallory Pugh proved to be the difference despite 17 shots from Houston. It was the first game the Dash played under new leadership after the club mutually parted ways with head coach Randy Waldrum and appointed Omar Morales as interim manager.
In addition to Lloyd, the Pride will have to keep an eye on forward Kealia Ohai and midfielders Morgan Brian and Andressinha, while facing Australia WNT goalkeeper Lydia Williams on the other end of the field.
Orlando had success against the Dash during its inaugural season, taking three wins out of four games in 2016.
With 77.84 percent passing accuracy, the Pride lead the league in the statistic and are currently ranked second in the NWSL with 53.9 percent possession. Living up to her playmaker reputation, Marta tops the league with 25 chances created in her seven games.
Forward Alex Morgan has returned from France and is back in Orlando, but will not be ready to join the Pride for another three to four weeks as she recovers from a hamstring injury suffered while playing with Olympique Lyonnais. Ashlyn Harris remains sidelined with a quadriceps injury.
Following Saturday’s game, the Pride return to Orlando City Stadium looking to defend their undefeated home record in the second leg of the home-and-home series with the Dash. The match will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. ET and will aired nationally on Lifetime.
Tickets are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.