The Washington Spirit will host reigning National Women’s Soccer League Champion Portland Thorns FC in the first ever women’s professional soccer game at Audi Field - D.C. United’s brand new state-of-the-art stadium in downtown Washington, D.C. - on Saturday, August 25 at 7 p.m. ET.
Just over five weeks after D.C. United debuts the new venue with their first MLS match on July 14, the Spirit and Thorns will compete in the first women’s professional soccer game played in the District of Columbia since the Washington Freedom’s final showing at RFK Stadium in 2010.
The matchup at Audi Field will be the penultimate game of the 2018 NWSL regular season for both Washington and Portland, and could hold major playoff implications.
“It’s really special for us to come full circle and have women’s pro soccer in downtown D.C. again,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “It’s a big opportunity to showcase the best women’s soccer in the world in the world’s newest stadium.”
Audi Field, the first soccer specific stadium to be constructed in the District, will feature a total capacity of 20,000 seats, 1,500 club seats, 31 luxury suites and a bike valet along with 500,000 total square feet of mixed-use retail and residential space on site.
“We’re excited to host the Washington Spirit at our new home at Audi Field in August,” said D.C. United president of business operations Tom Hunt. "Our plan from the beginning was to build a stadium that serves as a home for soccer in the nation's capital and we hope this game is so successful that it leads to more Washington Spirit fixtures at Audi Field in the future.”
Along with being home to D.C. United - the most decorated franchise in U.S. soccer history and D.C.’s most championed professional team - Audi Field will also host a variety of other sporting and cultural events. The Spirit and Thorns will be among the first to take center stage at D.C.’s newest landmark, showcasing the NWSL in the nation’s capital.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our D.C. fans who haven’t been out to the Plex recently, to see how far women’s professional soccer has come,” said 2017 National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and Spirit assistant coach Briana Scurry. “It’s great to have women’s pro soccer back in D.C. and to give more fans a chance to see us first hand.”
Washington Spirit and D.C. United 2018 Season Ticket Holders will have first selection for tickets to the game, starting on Tuesday, May 1. The game is included as part of the 12-game home schedule for Spirit Season Ticket Holders. D.C. United Season Ticket Holders will also be a part of the exclusive Season Ticket Holder Presale, which runs from May 1-6.
Additional early access to tickets will be available from May 7-13, as the presale extends to the following groups: Fans who have purchased at least one single game ticket to a 2018 Washington Spirit home game, members of Washington Spirit Youth Club Partners and Community Partners, all official Spirit and D.C. United supporters groups, and large groups of 25 or more. Current Audi Field Suite Holders will have until May 15 to book their suites for the game, with any remaining offered for sale thereafter through the Spirit ticket office.
Fans interested in accessing the presale who don’t qualify per the above, can still get access by completing a five-question survey. [SURVEY]
Everyone taking advantage of the two presale periods will have access to tickets for $10 off the public sale prices. Tickets for the game will go on sale to the general public starting on Monday, May 14.
Fans interested in purchasing Youth Group Experiences or renting Audi Field Suites should contact the Washington Spirit sales office at: 301-591-0927.
Complete details on ticketing options is available on the Spirit’s FAQ page. [FAQ]
The Washington Spirit will host the first place North Carolina Courage on Saturday night for the first of three regular season meetings between the clubs. Kickoff is set for 7:00 for North Carolina’s only visit to the Maryland SoccerPlex this season. [TICKETS]
Saturday’s game will feature the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the National Women’s Soccer League standings heading into the third week of play. Washington is coming off a 2-0 shutout of the Orlando Pride in its home opener on March 31, while first place North Carolina is the only team in the NWSL that has not allowed a goal through its first two games.
U.S. international forward Ashley Hatch, who earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2017 as a member of the Courage, netted her first goal as a member of the Spirit in the home opening victory, powering home an 88th minute strike to put the game out of reach.
Another USA forward, Mallory Pugh, claimed NWSL Player of the Week honors after netting the game-winner against Orlando on a breakaway strike through the legs of Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
Pugh, Hatch and the rest of the Spirit attack will seek to become the first offense to break through with a goal against the tough Carolina back line. The Courage are coming off back-to-back 1-0 wins in their first two games, against Portland Thorns FC and Sky Blue FC.
“We have to play to our tempo,” said Spirit Head Coach and General Manager Jim Gabarra. “We’re playing against a very strong and physical athletic opponent that’s very good at the way they play. We’ve got to come in and instill our style of play and get three points here at home.”
The Washington attack has posted the second-most shots on goal through the first two weeks with 12, while the Courage defense - led by March 2018 NWSL Team of the Month selection Jaelene Hinkle - has only allowed one shot on goal to reach goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo.
On the defensive side, Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe enters the game leading the league in saves with 14 through her first two appearances with the club. Bledsoe has also the third-best save percentage at 88%.
Spirit captain Estelle Johnson is anchoring the back line once again this season, leading the league in clearances while also succeeded on all of her slide tackle attempts through the first two games.
Bledsoe, Johnson and the rest of Washington’s defensive unit will be tasked with slowing down a Courage attack featuring U.S. internationals Crystal Dunn and Lynn Williams, along with Jessica McDonald, who scored a stoppage time game-winner in their last game against Sky Blue FC.
Following Saturday’s home game, the Spirit will travel to face Portland Thorns FC for a Friday night match on April 20 at Providence Park.
Single game tickets for the Washington Spirit’s regular season home games at the Maryland SoccerPlex are available now at Tickets.WashingtonSpirit.com or by calling the club’s ticket office at 301-591-0927
Mallory Pugh’s breakaway strike in the 80th minute and Ashley Hatch’s 88th minute goal, paired with a clean sheet effort by Spirit goalkeeper Aubrey Bledose and the back line resulted in Washington’s first win of the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League regular season in the club’s home opener.
After 79 minutes of scoreless soccer, Pugh netted what proved to be the game-winner, with Hatch providing the assist. After receiving the pass from Hatch, the 19-year-old U.S. international forward burst into the box and nutmegged Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for her seventh career NWSL goal. [WATCH]
Just eight minutes later, Hatch sealed the game with a close range, unassisted strike from the center of the box, finishing into the bottom left corner of the net. [WATCH]
Washington controlled 55 percent of the possession and outshot Orlando 7-3 in the first half, while the Pride recorded the only two shots on frame of the opening period. Both resulted in saves by Bledsoe.
In the second half, U.S. international midfielder Andi Sullivan notched Washington’s first shot on target in the 58th minute. Sullivan’s right-footed shot from 35 toward the center of the goal, leading to Harris’ first save of the afternoon.
The Spirit found the net twice in the second period despite Orlando controlling 60.4 percent of the possession. Throughout the course of the game, Washington and Orlando each recorded 14 shots, with three on target for the Spirit and four on frame for the Pride.
Spirit defenders Caprice Dydasco, Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church and U.S. international Taylor Smith all played the full 90 minutes on the back line in the club’s first shutout of the young season.
Following the upcoming FIFA international break, Washington will return to NWSL action on Saturday, April 14 for a home game against the North Carolina Courage. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:00 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex. [TICKETS]
-NWSL Match Report-
Match: Washington Spirit vs. Orlando Pride
Date: March 31, 2018
Venue: Maryland Soccerplex
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET
Weather: Sunny, Low 60s
Goals 1 2 F
Washington (1-1-0, 3 pts) 0 2 2
Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 pt) 0 0 0
WAS – Mallory Pugh (Ashley Hatch) 80’
WAS – Ashley Hatch 88’
Washington Spirit: Aubrey Bledsoe, Estelle Johnson, Taylor Smith, Caprice Dydasco, Whitney Church, Havana Solaun (Meggie Dougherty Howard, 68’), Andi Sullivan, Rebecca Quinn (Joanna Lohman 56’), Ashley Hatch, Mallory Pugh, Francisca Ordega (Mallory Eubanks 87’)
Substitutes Not Used: Morgan Proffitt, Kelsey Wys, Tori Huster, Tiffany Weimer
Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris, Shelina Zadorsky, Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger, Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt (Bridget Callahan 90’), Christine Nairn, Chioma Ubogagu (Danica Evans 74’), Kristen Edmonds, Sydney Leroux
Substitutes Not Used: Abby Elinsky, Nádia Gomes, Lotta Okvist, Christine Creighton, Haley Kopmeyer
Stats Summary: WAS / ORL
Possession: 47.8 / 52.2 %
Shots: 14 / 14
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 4 / 1
Corner Kicks: 2 / 7
Fouls: 7 / 5
Offside: 2 / 3
WAS – Whitney Church (Yellow Card) 44’
Referee: Matthew Franz
Assistant Referee 1: Adrienne McDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Ben Pilgrim
Fourth Official: Karl Kummer
The Washington Spirit has signed forward Mallory Eubanks as a National Team Replacement Player. Eubanks will serve as national team replacement while defender Estefania Banini is away with the Argentina Women’s National Team competing in the Copa America Feminina.
Washington selected Eubanks with the sixth pick of the 2nd round (No. 16 overall) in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. The 21-year-old forward finished her college career in 2017 at Mississippi State University ranked second in program history with 17 assists.
Eubanks scored the Spirit’s first goal of the 2018 preseason, netting an 87th minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw against the University of North Carolina on March 10.
National Team Replacement players can be signed when a National Team Player is away on international duty and will not count against the team’s 20-player roster limit. More information on National Team Player Replacements can be found here.
Tickets for all 2018 Washington Spirit home games are available now at https://tickets.washingtonspirit.com.