Friday, June 2, 2023

NWSL Challenge Cup Preview: Orlando Pride at Washington Spirit

Audi Field | Washington, District of Columbia – Wednesday, May 10 at 7:30 PM ET

Players to watch:

Washington Spirit forward Trinity Rodman is the only player to have at least four career goals and four career assists in Challenge Cup history. Her nine goal contributions (5G 4A) are the second most in the competition’s history, behind only Debinha (11). No one has scored for the Spirit in this year’s competition after a 1-0 loss to Gotham in their opening match, but Rodman’s three goals in the regular season are second only to teammate Ashley Hatch, who has four on the year through six games. Hatch currently sits in the league in total shots (19) and her four goals have her tied atop the league scoring charts with a good few others. 

Pride forward Ally Watt scored Orlando’s lone goal in their draw with North Carolina in its Challenge Cup opener. In her NWSL career, Watt has two goals and an assist in nine career Challenge Cup games compared to one goal and no assists in her 29 NWSL regular season and playoff matches. In the Pride’s scoring department, of the four goalscorers through their first six games respectively, only forward Messiah Bright has scored more than once (2). Orlando goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse has been impressive for her side as well, leading the league with 26 saves in four games. The next closest player to have played four or less games has made 11 saves in three matches. 

Match facts: The Washington Spirit host the Orlando Pride as the lone match in Wednesday’s UKG NWSL Challenge Cup action. This will be the Spirit’s first home match of the competition as they will look to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Gotham on April 20, while Orlando drew 1-1 with North Carolina in their lone Challenge Cup match to date on the same day.

The Spirit have never lost at home in the Challenge Cup (W2 D3) with their last home game in the competition being a 4-1 win over Orlando in April of last year. Washington is one of three current NWSL teams yet to lose at home in the Challenge Cup, along with North Carolina and OL Reign. The Spirit are also currently unbeaten at home in three matches in the regular season (W2 D1) but have not faced Orlando in either competition. 

Orlando started its 2023 Challenge Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw with the Courage, extending its winless streak in the competition to eight straight games (D4 L4). The Pride’s lone win in 11 all-time Challenge Cup matches came against the Spirit, a 1-0 home win in 2021. Orlando has lost two of its three road games in the regular season but won its most recent road match, 3-1, in San Diego, a result that stands as likely the club’s best of the season to date. 

Five of the last seven meetings between Washington and Orlando have ended in draws, with the Spirit winning the other two games. Prior to that, there had been just two draws in the first 12 matches in the fixture (five wins each). 

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