Week two of the 2017 National Women's Soccer League brought the Orlando Pride and the Washington Spirit together in Orlando, Florida. The game was played at the newly built Orlando City Stadium. The Orlando City Soccer Club made the purpose built soccer stadium for all three of their teams, Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and OCB.
Both teams came looking for a win after they both lost last week. The Spirit fell to the North Carolina Courage 1-0 and the Pride lost to the Portland Thorns 2-0. As they came off defeat, both teams were hungry for the three points.
Injury filled first half
The first half started and it was apparent both teams were going to play physical. There was pushing from the blow of the whistle. Two minutes in, the Pride won the first corner game that was won off a hard tackle by Shelina Zandorsky. The Pride was unable to capitalize on the set piece.
Then it was the Spirit's turn to attack with a big build out of the backfield. Spirit midfielder Alyssa Kleiner sent a beautiful cross into the box that Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris punched out clear before anyone was able to get on the end of it. This would be the first of many saves Harris would have to make throughout the game.
Minute 19 brought the first bad injury. Jamia Fields, listed as a Pride forward but played as a defender, played a clean tackle on forward Katie Stengel, but as they collided Stengel went down holding her right knee. Stengel would then have to be carried off on a stretcher due to the injury. We are unsure of the extent of the injury. Lindsay Agnew was brought in to replace the injured Stengel.
Both teams were still pushing and creating shots but nothing would make it in. A big chance at minute 22 for the Spirit would be spoiled again by Harris as she came up with a big save by making herself big.
The 29th minute brought more of the same as the Spirit was able to get Harris one on one. They got a shot off but Harris was able to get a hand on it. The ball then started to roll dangerously towards the open goal behind Harris but midfielder Monica was quick with the save and able to clear it out of the box just as it was getting to the goal line. If anyone deserves the save of the week, it should be Monica.
Around the 40th minute, Fields got into another battle for the ball. No one was quite sure what happened but she took a knee a few moments later. It looked as if she was trying to stretch out her right thigh but it was unclear. Laura Alleway would come on for the injured Fields during the 44th minute.
Half time brought a scoreless game as both teams went to the locker room tied at 0.
Then they score
As the second half started, the Pride came out on a mission. The entire team was pushing high creating opportunities all over the pitch. The Spirit backline had to work hard to keep Orlando at bay.
Minute 59 would bring the historical first appearance of Brazilian forward Marta. She replaced Monica in the midfield. It looked as if Orlando was trying to get more of an attacking midfield.
Marta was brought in while Washington was setting up for a corner. Midfielder Line Sigvardsen was able to get a head on the ball and gave Washington the lead, 1-0. This was Sigvardsen's first NWSL career goal.
Marta started to show why Orlando fought so hard to get her. She was making quick work of the Spirit defense but was unable to connect with anyone.
Rookie Danica Evans was brought in for Jasmyne Spencer up top in the 74th minute. Spencer was running hard all game but was unable to put anything in the back of the net. Evans was picked up in the 2017 NWSL College Draft.
Late in the game, Orlando was pressuring the Spirit with some big shots. Evans would get a few shots off but nothing would make it past Spirit's goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe. The moment would soon come though as the Pride would push through the backline. The ball landed at Evans' feet and keeping her cool, was able to beat the keeper. The goal brought the Pride even with the Spirit, 1-1. This was Evans' first professional career goal and the Pride's first goal in their new stadium.
The game would end with the score at a draw, Orlando Pride 1-1 Washington Spirit.