Less than two weeks ago, just after the whole world saw Spain lift the World Cup trophy, WPS fans witnessed FC Gold Pride notch another win as they defeated the Washington Freedom 3-2.
Gold Pride enjoyed a three-goal cushion until the Freedom fought back and eventually scored two goals courtesy of Lene Mykjaland (79') and Nikki Marshall (90+').
It was Marshall's second time playing as a forward for the Freedom after Mykjaland was subbed out in the 80th minute. In their game against the Boston Breakers last week, Marshall started up top instead of taking her usual place in the back. She scored the Freedom's lone goal in the game as they fell to the Breakers 2-1.
"I think that she has speed we've been missing and without Lisa [De Vanna] here it's been tough to get in behind defenses and really stretch defenses out. [It's] easy to mark two players that aren't gonna beat you by the dribble—I'm not gonna beat anybody by the dribble," said Freedom forward Abby Wambach.
"So it's gonna be nice to have her up top to give us that added advantage and hopefully we'll get some goals out of it."
De Vanna broke her left leg back in May after colliding with China's goalkeeper while playing for Australia at the Asian Cup. Her injury is listed in the roster report as season-ending.
FC Gold Pride, the No. 1 team in the league, is on a four-game winning streak and is looking to end their July campaign with a clean record. They defeated the Boston Breakers three days ago as Marta, last season's MVP, made WPS history by scoring the most goals by a player in a single season with 11.
With having the top two goal scorers in the league (Marta and Christine Sinclair) and being 13 points ahead of second place Philadelphia Independence in the standings (as of this writing), the Gold Pride look set to be a sure thing in the playoffs. But head coach Albertin Montoya is not taking anything lightly.
"Right now it's all about making sure we play our game and hopefully posses the ball and keep the ball so we don't have to run and defend all that much. But we know that the Freedom like to play that game too. I think the two of us are the two teams in this league that enjoy keeping the ball and it's about who does a better job and makes the other team work a little harder defensively."
FC Gold Pride and the Washington Freedom practice the day before their game.
The Freedom will host FC Gold Pride this time at the Maryland SoccerPlex in the teams' third meeting in the season. For Gold Pride, this will be their second away game in three days. And a 12.5-hour bus ride from Boston to Maryland was not something the team had anticipated. But for team captain Rachel Buehler, it's just one of the things the team has to deal with during the season.
"The Boston game was a tough game. They were coming at us at the end and then we had a really, really long bus ride yesterday. But we had a good practice and hopefully got some of that lactic acid out. It is what it is. When you got a Wednesday game, that's just how it is."
The match will also feature past Washington Freedom players—including soccer legend Mia Hamm—as the organization honors them and will present another inductee to its Hall of Freedom.
With Freedom alumni watching and cheering them on, and with a seven-game winless streak on their shoulders, the Freedom look to turn things around starting with this match on their turf.
"The bottom line is, we need to get a result and remember what it feels like to win," said Freedom head coach Jim Gabarra.
The game will take place at the Maryland SoccerPlex at 7 PM ET. Those who can't make it can watch live at CSNWashington.com's webcast .
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