Saturday’s match will be the Spirit’s second of three games against the Orlando Pride during the 2018 NWSL regular season. The two teams last met in the Spirit’s home opener, where Washington earned a 2-0 win. Two late goals by Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch, and a shutout by goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe led the Spirit to their first win of the season. The Spirit and Pride will face off one more time this season on July 7 at Orlando.
The Spirit are coming off two straight scoreless draws, on the road against Sky Blue FC on June 8 and on Saturday, June 16 against Seattle Reign FC. Meanwhile, Orlando is coming off a 3-2 win over Sky Blue FC last weekend.
Bledsoe and the Washington back line held Megan Rapinoe and the Reign off the scoreboard in a 90-minute defensive performance. Bledsoe stopped all six shots she faced, including a penalty kick from Rapinoe in the 52nd minute; pushing her league-leading save total to 63 and earning her NWSL Player of the Week honors.
The Washington defense will take on another challenging task in the Pride’s offensive front. Caprice Dydasco, Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson and Taylor Smith will battle the Pride’s top offensive threats, including five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta and U.S. internationals Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.
“Things have really come together for us both with our goalkeeping and our back line, and defensively as a whole,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “You certainly can limit what Orlando does, but you’re never going to completely shut them down. We have to score some goals and continue to defend the way we have been.”
The Pride have three players with four goals (Leroux, Rachel Hill, and Chioma Ubogagu) and two other attackers with two goals (Morgan and Marta); boosting the Pride to the second-highest scoring team in the league.
The Spirit offense will try to counter that of the Pride with Francisca Ordega (3 goals) and Hatch (3 goals, 1 assist) leading the way. Washington goes into Saturday looking to break their three-game scoreless streak.
The Spirit will start a three-game road trip against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday, July 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The team will return to the Maryland SoccerPlex on Saturday, July 21 as they take on the Houston Dash with kickoff set at 7:00 p.m. ET.