The Washington Spirit got off to a slow start last week and paid for it, as a strong fightback was not quite enough in a 2-1 loss to Seattle. Today, against an Orlando Pride team missing numerous internationals and possibly even Alex Morgan, they’ll be looking to build on last week’s positives while taking a collective step forward. That will mean having more control over proceedings, and getting closer to a 90 minute performance.
Key player: Mallory Pugh
Pugh had a pretty good outing against Seattle, but ultimately her work couldn’t turn into a goal for the Spirit. Against an Orlando side that might be thinking a bit more conservatively due to the number of missing attackers and midfielders they’re dealing with, Washington is going to need Pugh to break things open with her ability to create on the dribble, and it will be important that her partnership with Ashley Hatch shows signs of growth.
Location: Maureen Hendricks Stadium at Maryland Soccerplex (Boyds, MD)
Kickoff time: 3:30pm Eastern (actual kickoff more like 3:50)
Projected Spirit starting 11: (433) - Aubrey Bledsoe; Taylor Smith, Rebecca Quinn, Estelle Johnson, Caprice Dydasco; Meggie Dougherty Howard, Andi Sullivan, Joanna Lohman; Mallory Pugh, Ashley Hatch, Havana Solaun
Bench: DiDi Haracic, Whitney Church, Morgan Proffitt, Tori Huster, Tiffany Weimer, Mallory Eubanks, Francisca Ordega
Given the boost she gave Washington after halftime last week, look for Lohman to get the nod over Huster, which means Sullivan moves to the base of the midfield. Quinn, who was unable to play last week due to visa issues, should get the nod at center back today. The only other change to the starting 11 we expect is Solaun replacing Estefania Banini, who is with Argentina at the Copa America Feminina. Yanara Aedo is at the same tournament with Chile, and their absences have opened the door for the Spirit to sign Eubanks (who scored their only preseason goal) as a national team replacement player.
Cali Farquharson is listed as questionable with a tibial stress injury, and if she is capable of playing, she might get a spot on the bench over Eubanks or Weimer (who only just arrived in town this week). Rose Lavelle (hamstring), Cheyna Matthews (pregnancy), and Arielle Ship (ACL) remain out.
Projected Orlando starting 11: (433) - Ashlyn Harris; Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger, Shelina Zadorsky, Carson Pickett; Dani Weatherholt, Christine Nairn, Toni Pressley; Rachel Hill, Sydney Leroux, Chioma Ubogagu
International call-ups have left the Pride very short-handed. Brazil has called in Marta (who is, you know, Marta), starting right back Poliana, and Monica for the Copa America Feminina, while Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond are with Australia at the Women’s Asian Cup. Camila will be out for a while due to a torn ACL from last year, while Alex Morgan’s status is up in the air due to a concussion.
This lineup is based around the idea that Morgan won’t be able to play, but if she can start, look for Leroux to move out to the right wing. Orlando will most likely have all four of their national team replacement players on the bench.
Referee: Matthew Franz
Available TV: Lifetime
Available streaming: MyLifetime.com
What are you drinking?: Coffee on the way in, water in the press box once I’m there.
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