After a rough offseason, it was hard to imagine how the Washington Spirit’s situation could get worse. But in the Spirit’s opening game, Joanna Lohman suffered a season-ending ACL injury and forward Cheyna Williams exited with a groin injury. Now the Spirit to Orlando to play the Pride and recently-signed Brazilian international Marta. Orlando isn’t as strong as the North Carolina Courage, the Spirit’s last opponent, but the Pride’s speed up top will challenge the Spirit’s center backs.
Key player: Tori Huster
Due to Lohman’s ACL injury, Huster will likely play a more advanced role in today’s game and Line Sigvardsen Jensen will play in Huster’s usual spot. The midfield is the Spirit’s strongest unit this year but Lohman’s absence will test its strength. Last week the Spirit often seemed flat in the attack and a lack of movement doomed the offense, who didn’t post a single shot on goal.
The Pride don’t have much of a midfield but the team boasts a speedy and dynamic front line who will challenge the Spirit’s defense. The Spirit’s backline, particularly the center backs, don’t have the pace to match Orlando’s attack or newly-signed international star Marta. Because of this, it’s imperative that the Spirit’s midfield help prevent the backline and center backs in particular from being exposed.
Location: Orlando City Stadium (Orlando, FL)
Kickoff time: 4:00pm Eastern
Projected Spirit starting 11: (4-3-3) - Stephanie Labbe; Estelle Johnson, Whitney Church, Shelina Zadorsky, Kassey Kallman; Line Sigvardsen Jensen, Tori Huster, Kristie Mewis; Francisca Ordega, Katie Stengel, Arielle Ship
Bench: Didi Haracic, Alyssa Kleiner, Cameron Castleberry, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Havana Solaun, Lindsay Agnew
Cheyna Williams is out with a strained right adductor and Joanna Lohman tore her left ACL last week. Due to Williams’ injury, Ordega will start but Lindsey Agnew will likely replace her since Ordega is most likely not fit for 90 minutes due to a preseason injury. Estelle Johnson will probably start at right back but rookie Cameron Castleberry is also an option. The Spirit started with a 3-4-1-2 last week but will likely go back to a 4-3-3 this week. Washington has less than 18 healthy players so all available players will travel.
Marta arrived in Orlando late Thursday night. The Pride list her as a likely starter so even if she doesn’t start, she will likely make an appearance. If she doesn’t start, look for Jasmyne Spencer up front instead. Orlando could also play out of a 4-3-3 depending on Camila’s position.
Referee: Karen Abt
Available TV: Lifetime
Available streaming: MyLifetime App
In other countries it will be available on the NWSL’s website.
What do we have to say about it?: Michael Citro from The Mane Land answered our questions about Orlando, and we answered his questions about the Spirit.
What are you drinking?: Water ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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