Marta, Pride set to debut in new stadium

Updated:

courtesy Mark Thor - Orlando Pride

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Pride prepares for its highly anticipated 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Home Opener against the Washington Spirit (0-1-0, 0 points) on Saturday, April 22. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium.

The match will be the Pride’s second nationally televised game on Lifetime, following last Saturday’s season opener at Portland Thorns FC.

“This will be a historic day for our Club. We can’t wait to walk out of that tunnel and feel the energy in our new stadium,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “But there is a game to win. We need to show improvement over last week’s match at Portland. We’ve made adjustments and we’ll be ready for Saturday.”

Brazilian superstar Marta, who was acquired by the Pride in a blockbuster signing two weeks ago, is expected to be available for the match and could make her NWSL debut in front of the home crowd. The five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, who is widely regarded as the greatest women’s soccer player of all time, will be introduced on Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET in a press conference, which will also be streamed at orlando-pride.com/live.

In addition to Marta, Orlando features 2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year and U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris as well as USWNT defender Ali Krieger. Sermanni’s squad also returns 2016 Golden Boot winner Kristen Edmonds and international defenders Monica and Steph Catley.

The Pride opened their second NWSL season last Saturday at Portland Thorns FC, the same opponent the Pride faced in their inaugural match on April 17, 2016. Despite heavy pressure and numerous offensive chances for the Pride, Portland’s Nadia Nadim scored from the penalty spot in the 32nd minute and Christine Sinclair added a goal in the 67th minute for the 2-0 final.

Washington is coming off a 1-0 loss to the relocated North Carolina Courage. North Carolina’s McCall Zerboni scored the game-winner in the 18th minute. Spirit goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe made eight saves.

Washington took both games in the season series with Orlando in 2016. The Spirit took the first meeting, 2-0, on June 18 in Maryland. On Aug. 26, Sarah Hagen scored to draw the Pride within a goal but Washington won by a 2-1 decision.