The Washington Spirit returns to Maryland Soccerplex tonight to face the Orlando Pride tonight, starting a four-game home stretch. This is the Spirit's first-ever game against the 2016 expansion side, who boast USWNT star Alex Morgan, Australian defender Steph Catley, and former Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
This is Orlando's first game since the tragedy last weekend and both teams will honor the victims throughout the night. The two teams will wear #OrlandoUnited shirts during pregame warmups and will have a moment of silence after the player introductions. During the 49th minute, fans are asked to stand and clap for the entire minute. The #OrlandoUnited shirts will not be for sale at the game but are available online. Proceeds go to the OneOrlando fund.
After a strong start to the season, the Spirit had some struggles on their three-game road trip. Washington lost 4-1 at Portland and tied 1-1 at Boston. Their game at Houston was postponed due to severe weather conditions and will be replayed on Thursday, August 18. For their part, the Pride have also struggled on the road, losing four of their five away games (being outscored 6-2 in the process). Orlando has speed up front between Alex Morgan and Jasmyne Spencer that can rival the Spirit's attacking speed. Also, watch for runs out of the back from Catley and Canadian forward-turned-defender Josee Belanger.
The teams are currently on the edge of the final NWSL playoff spot. The Spirit are currently in the postseason field with 14 points, while Orlando is one spot back in 5th place with 12 points. Depending on the weekend's results, a win for Washington could see them jump into a tie for first place, while a loss (combined with a win for the Seattle Reign) could see them fall to 6th. Tonight's game in front of a sold-out crowd of over 5,000 fans is an excellent chance for the Spirit to return to their winning ways.
Location: Maryland Soccerplex (Boyds, MD)
Kick-off time: 7:00pm Eastern
Available TV: None
Available streaming: NWSL Soccer, free and non geo-blocked
Treat this as the gamethread for tonight's match