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Spirit Set to Clash with Orlando on ESPNews Saturday

The Washington Spirit play their second of three straight road matches on Saturday night against the Orlando Pride. The NWSL Game of the Week will kick off at 7:30 pm, and will be nationally televised on ESPNEWS.

Saturday’s game will be the last between the Spirit and Pride during the 2018 regular season and the only game at Orlando. The last two meetings were played at the Maryland SoccerPlex, where the two teams split the series with one win and one loss.

During the first matchup, Washington’s home opener, the Spirit picked up a 2-0 win over the Pride. Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch both scored goals in the last 10 minutes of the game to seal the Spirit’s first win of the season. The Pride evened the series during the second matchup on June 23 with a 1-0 win. The game’s only goal came from Orlando defender Alanna Kennedy on a long range shot in the 11th minute.

The Spirit go into Saturday’s game following a close 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday night at Toyota Park. The Pride will enter the final game of their home stand coming off a 3-0 loss against the North Carolina Courage.

“We need to go out and play to our strengths,” said Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra. “The key is to focus on our own specific roles and do them as well as we can.”

The Spirit back line will have a tough task in defending the Orlando Pride, the second most scoring team in the NWSL during the 2018 regular season. Bledsoe’s league-leading 70 saves in 14 games along with defenders Caprice Dydasco, Whitney Church, Estelle Johnson and Taylor Smith will be the leading force in stopping the Pride’s offensive threat.

The Pride offensive front is led by Sydney Leroux, Rachel Hill and Chioma Ubogagu, all of whom have recorded four goals this season. Overall, the Pride have six multi-goal scorers through 15 games.

The Spirit look to end their scoring slump with Ashley Hatch (3 goals, 1 assist) and Francisca Ordega (3 goals) leading the way. The pair have combined to record two goals on the road this year. Hatch’s 42 shots, second in the league, this season will be a key factor in the Spirit’s offense against the Pride.

Washington will finish up their three-game road trip Wednesday, July 11 as they travel to take on the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The Spirit will return to the Maryland SoccerPlex Saturday, July 21 when the club hosts the Houston Dash at 7:00 pm.

Caption: Spirit midfielder Tori Huster (23) and Orlando’s Emily van Egmond (5) during the two teams’ last meeting at the Maryland SoccerPlex on June 23. Orlando won that match 1-0.