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Orlando Pride Offense Gets Missing Piece Back with Alex Morgan

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The Orlando Pride have had a revolving door at the striker position in 2017. When Alex Morgan left for Olympique Lyonnais to pursue her dream of winning a Champions League title, the Pride searched to find a suitable replacement. They went all in on younger prospects, drafting Danica Evans and trading for both Chioma Ubogagu and Rachel Hill. With Jamia Fields and Jasmyne Spencer already on the roster, Tom Sermanni and company hoped for someone to take control and become the striker that the Pride needed.

But Orlando has settled for inconsistency, starting all five at the number nine spot at some point through the team’s first 10 games. The score-by-committee approach has worked even after a sluggish start, with 17 goals through 11 games, just three shy of the Pride’s total for 2016. Most of that improvement can be attributed to the new Brazilian signings, Marta and Camila, who have contributed nine of the team’s goals. But the rest have come almost exclusively from the young striking corps, including a game winner from rookie Hill and a game-tying goal from fellow freshman Evans. But that has been the most glaring weakness for the 2017 Pride’s offense — even with marked improvement, they lack another true scoring option.

Fields, who has the most starts at striker this season, has yet to score. None of the young newcomers, Ubogagu, Danica Evans, and Hill, have more than two. Over the midway point in the season, there’s no sign of a breakout season on the horizon for any of them. And for a team that has relied on its wide play, especially now with Ali Krieger at center back and Kristen Edmonds taking the right back spot, Jasmyne Spencer isn’t exactly the perfect striker to wait for service in the six-yard box. Orlando has done splendidly considering two of its most important pieces, Morgan and Ashlyn Harris, have been unavailable for most of the season. But the club is still within touching distance of a playoff place and, if they can take their game to the next level, they could very well end up above the red line in year two.

Luckily, the answer to their issues has returned from France and rehabilitated the hamstring injury she picked up in the Champions League Final. Morgan is slated to return to action for Orlando this weekend against the Chicago Red Stars. She returns to a much-improved offensive supporting cast and a potential world-class partnership with Marta.

Alex may have been a bit underwhelming in the Pride’s inaugural year with only four goals in 15 appearances, but with the leaps and bounds the offense has already taken compared to last year, adding a world-class striker to the front lines should kick that up a notch. Morgan’s skill on the ball is light-years ahead of anything the current group of forwards can offer and she makes a fantastic target with her runs through the middle of the park. In Morgan, the Pride have strengthened their biggest weakness on the offensive end. Playoffs are in Orlando’s sights and this could be the boost that gets them there.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Summer Yates to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new two-year deal though 2025 with a mutual option for 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract. The deal keeps the second-year professional in Orlando through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

“Summer’s growth over the last season has been evident, and her contributions on the field this year are a clear result of the work and dedication she has put into both herself and the team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “She is incredibly deserving of this new contract, and we are thrilled to reward her with it. We’re excited to see what Summer will achieve over her career here in Orlando and thankful to have her as part of our club for the foreseeable future.”

While many thought Yates would be a first- or second-round selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, the University of Washington product dropped to the fourth round, where the Pride took her with the third pick (39th overall). It was seen by some as possibly the steal of the draft. Despite her low selection, the club signed her to a two-year deal with an option for 2025 on March 7, 2023.

Yates played sparingly during her rookie season, primarily seeing time during the NWSL Challenge Cup. However, she’s had a breakout year during her sophomore campaign, becoming a key contributor to the team. After making 10 league appearances in 2023, she’s made 15 appearances this year with 11 starts, scoring four goals.

The 24-year-old made her professional debut on March 26, 2023, coming on for Marta in the 53rd minute of the season-opening 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns. She made 10 appearances and recorded 108 minutes in league play a year ago. The rookie was more prominent in the NWSL Challenge Cup, appearing in six games (two starts), while recording 259 minutes and two assists.

This year, Yates came on in the 70th minute of the season-opening 2-2 draw against Racing Louisville for Morgan Gautrat, scoring the equalizing goal in the 86th minute. She earned her first start on April 12 in a 1-0 win over the Utah Royals. Following her late goal that secured a point in the season opener, Yates scored the lone goal of a 1-0 win over San Diego Wave FC on April 19 and converted the eventual game-winning penalty against the Washington Spirit on April 26. Those performances have earned her the opportunity to extend her stay in Orlando.

“I am so honored to be staying in Orlando,” Yates said in the club’s release. “From day one, this organization has believed in me and helped me develop my game in so many ways. This team is so special, and I am grateful that I get to continue to be a part of it. Vamos Pride!”

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Yates was the playmaker of the Washington Huskies. She made 93 appearances (86 starts) during her collegiate career, scoring 27 goals and recording 23 assists in five years. She was named to the All-Pac-12 team four times, Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches, and twice named to the All-Pacific Region Team.

Internationally, Yates has appeared on the United States U-20 Women’s National Team, helping the side win the 2020 U-20 Concacaf Championship.

What It Means for Orlando

Yates was a low-risk and high-reward draft pick for the Pride. She was expected to go in the low first round or early second round, but continued to fall as the draft continued. Fortunately for Orlando, she was still available in the fourth round, where the Pride were able to take what might be the steal of the draft.

It was tough to judge Yates with her limited playing time in 2023, but she’s taken a major leap this season. She had the tough task of replacing Marta and Adriana earlier in the year when the Brazilians were out, taking advantage of those opportunities. She’s also been asked to take on more defensive roles due to multiple injuries to defensive midfielders.

Marta is currently on the final year of a two-year deal, so this could be the final season for the 38-year-old superstar. When the Pride captain does decide to end her career, Yates is an option to take over the number 10 role. She’s proven she can play the position and, at only 24 years old, still has room to grow.

Regardless of her future role in the team, Yates has proven this year that she can be a key contributor. The Pride’s recent success has been based on hitting on several trades and draft picks, both by Carter and former general manager Ian Fleming. Yates is another one of those good selections and has now dedicated herself to the Pride for the near future.

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Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Cori Dyke to New Contract

The Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new deal through 2025 with a mutual option for 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract. The deal runs through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

“Cori has stepped up and contributed in big moments this season, playing with composure and professionalism well beyond her years. Her versatility has been a very important part of our team, as well as her commitment to growing and learning each day,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “We’re happy to be able to provide her with the support and environment she needs to continue her growth as a player, and to also see her continue as an important piece of what we are building here in Orlando.”

Dyke was selected by the Pride with the eighth pick of the second round (22nd overall) in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She was subsequently signed to a one-year deal on March 11, ensuring she would be on the team this year. The 23-year-old midfielder was an unused sub on March 22 against Angel City and wasn’t in the team until April 26 when she came on in the 81st minute in a 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit at Audi Field. However, she’s since become a regular for the team, taking part in every game since. The rookie has made 11 appearances this season with one start and recorded 269 minutes.

The one-year deal she signed in March was an audition to see if she would be a part of the team in the future. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines has spoken glowingly about the midfielder and used her more and more as the season has gone on. Those performances have earned her a new deal that could keep her in Orlando for another two years.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this new contract and to be staying in Orlando,” Dyke said in the club’s release. “I am so grateful to the staff and my fellow teammates for my experience thus far. I know I will only continue to grow and learn more from them while in this environment. This really is a special group and I feel blessed to continue to be a part of it.”

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Dyke played five years for the Penn State Nittany Lions, gaining an extra year of eligibility due to the global pandemic. She made 108 appearances (all starts), scoring nine goals and recording nine assists in her collegiate career. During her senior season, she moved to center back and was named Big Ten Defender of the Year while helping Penn State to a league-best nine goals conceded in 17 games. For her success at the collegiate level in both academics and athletics, Dyke recently was named Penn State’s female Big Ten Medal of Honor winner for the 2023-2024 academic year.

At the international level, Dyke has competed for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the U-14 through U-23 levels, including winning the 2017 CFA Tournament with the U-19 side.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride have built a strong side the last few years, enabling them to reach the top of the NWSL standings. Now, the goal for Hines and Carter is to keep those players together. While Dyke is unlikely to start much for the Pride during these next two years, she’s done well in her role as a substitute, coming on late to help the team see out games.

Dyke is a defensive-minded midfielder that can slide back into the back line when needed. That versatility is valued by Hines and Carter and has been crucial to the Pride’s success this season. Her former college and current Pride teammate, Kerry Abello, played in the attacking midfield until this year, when she moved back to left back, with Kylie Strom taking a central role. Dyke’s ability to play in the midfield or on the back line makes her valuable to the team.

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Orlando Pride vs. Kansas City Current: Final Score 2-1 as Pride Win Battle of Undefeated Teams

Despite going down to 10 players in the first half, the Orlando Pride beat the Kansas City Current on the road.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride (11-0-5, 38 points) went on the road and handed the Kansas City Current (10-1-5, 35 points) their first loss of the season, winning 2-1 at CPKC Stadium in Kansas City. The Pride’s Barbra Banda and the Current’s Temwa Chawinga — the two top scorers in the NWSL — traded goals in the first half, and Marta scored the winner with a penalty kick in the second half.

Orlando was reduced to 10 players in the 42nd minute after Carrie Lawrence received her second yellow card, but the Pride were still able to win their 11th game of the season, claiming the battle of the league’s last two remaining unbeaten teams. The result extended the Pride’s unbeaten streak this season to 16 games — 17 dating back to last year’s season finale — and they are now first in the league standings.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change to the lineup that won 3-0 against Angel City FC, with Angelina replacing Haley McCutcheon in the midfield. It was Angelina’s first start since undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on her knee on May 9. Anna Moorhouse started in goal behind a back line of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Lawrence. Julie Doyle, Angelina, Summer Yates, and Adriana made up the midfield, while Marta played a bit further up the pitch with Banda up top.

The Pride wasted no time in attacking and created the game’s first chance in the second minute. Banda charged toward the end line on the right and her shot forced a save from Current goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Orlando cycled the rebound around until it wound up at the feet of Angelina, who took a low, driven shot from distance that Franch was able to gather.

It was just the start of a frantic battle between the league’s top offenses, as the match featured plenty of counterattacking. The duel between Strom and Michelle Cooper was one to watch up and down the wing and highlighted the back-and-forth nature of the match. Strom defended well against Cooper, but the 21-year-old had the Current’s first real chance in the sixth minute when a decent cross found her in the box, only for her to send it over the bar. Abello then went the other way, winning a corner after her cross was blocked.

Another important battle between individual players was Lawrence’s defense against Chawinga. It was just Lawrence’s second start this season after her injury in last year’s preseason, and stopping Chawinga is arguably the toughest assignment in the league. Chawinga is particularly lethal when counterattacking and Lawrence picked up the first yellow card in the 14th minute when she pulled the Malawian forward’s shirt to slow her down on the break. Though the Pride were able to safely deal with the ensuing free kick, the card put Lawrence in a tough spot early.

Sams made a critical tackle against Chawinga soon after, one of many great contributions from the defender. However, Chawinga was relentless in this match and had another chance in the 17th minute, nearly getting on the end of a loose ball in the box. However, Moorhouse was there to collect it and see out the danger. Moorhouse was called to action again in the 20th minute, making a save but spilling the rebound before chasing it down to push it out of play.

It was a physical match, and Marta received a yellow card in the 23rd minute for her reaction to a hard foul from Claire Lavogez. Marta will likely be heading back to Orlando with some bumps and bruises as it was just one of many times during the match that she was knocked down. Strom spoke after the match about how Marta’s passion in this match was a rallying point of sorts for the team.

“You saw the fire in her eyes today, and that is so contagious,” Strom said. “We see her fighting, and she’s the one throwing her body in front of everything, putting everything on the line. Everybody gets behind that, everybody in the locker room. We are so connected and that’s something so special with this team.”

That passion was evident soon after that foul, as Marta hustled to get in the way of an attempted clearance by the Current soon after. Banda was quick to get to the loose ball in the box, but she was forced into a tough angle and sent her shot wide.

In the 28th minute, the Current picked up their first yellow card of the night after Claire Hutton kicked the back of Marta’s leg while defending her.

The hydration break did little to slow down the breakneck pace of the game. In the 32nd minute, Marta didn’t get all of the ball on an attempted shot and the Current sprinted the other way. Lavogez took a crack at goal herself from outside the box, but the shot went just over the ball. A minute later, Marta was fouled yet again, this time in a decent area from distance. Angelina lobbed the free kick over the Kansas City defense, but Franch was there to catch it.

The Pride finally broke through in the 37th minute. Adriana found a nice pocket of space between Kansas City defenders and Marta found her fellow Brazilian with a nice pass. Adriana didn’t take long to shoot and it never had a chance at going in, but it did deflect off of Elizabeth Ball and Banda was there to jump on the opportunity. The Zambian forward was on it in an instant and beat Franch to give the Pride the lead.

It was Banda’s 12th goal in what has been a fantastic first season in Orlando. With that goal, she took the lead in the NWSL Golden Boot race as well.

That lead, both for the Pride and Banda, lasted all of two minutes. Chawinga bested Lawrence and was then off to the races, dribbling through Orlando’s defense and putting her shot past Moorhouse for the equalizer in the 39th minute. It was Chawinga’s 12th goal of the season as well.

The game wasn’t done changing though, as Lawrence received her second yellow card in the 42nd minute and was sent off. Lawrence had been defending Chawinga yet again and left her feet to tackle the forward from behind, leaving the Pride with just 10 players for the remainder of the match. Even though halftime was looming, Seb Hines immediately made a change with his first substitution in the 44th minute, bringing off Doyle to add another defender in Rafaelle. Hines has spoken often about the importance of goals right before halftime, so it made sense for him to bring on Rafaelle immediately to prevent conceding a late, first-half goal.

Chawinga nearly had her brace in the 46th minute after a nice first touch to beat Sams and set up a shot. Moorhouse redeemed herself with a phenomenal diving save to nudge the curling shot just wide and out for a corner. While she had some worrying moments in this match, this save was one of Moorhouse’s best of the season.

Although down a player, the Pride didn’t stop pushing for a goal offensively to close out the first half. However, despite a flurry of corner kicks from Orlando, the first half ended with the game tied 1-1 and the Pride at a disadvantage due to Lawrence’s exit.

The Pride had more possession (53%-47%), shots (7-6), shots on target (5-4), corner kicks (4-1),and crosses (9-8). The Pride also completed 76% of their passes, while the Current were successful on 72% of theirs.

Hines made another change at halftime, replacing Yates with McCutcheon in the midfield.

It didn’t take long into the second half for Marta to be fouled again, with Lo’eau LaBonta receiving a yellow card this time. The medical team came out as she stayed down, but Marta was ultimately able to continue.

It was hard to tell that the Pride were down a player at times, as Banda and Marta required plenty of attention from the Current and the team remained organized and consistent with its pressure. This wasn’t the first time the Pride have played well after a red card this season and it showed.

“You have to manage those moments. You have to not find excuses,” Hines said. “It could have been very easy to give up and say, ‘You know what, we’re playing the top of the table tonight at their grounds, we’re down to 10 players.’ That could have been your excuse, but we’re not like that. That’s not the attitude. That’s not the character that we have in this group. They embrace it. They use it as fuel. Even when things are going against them, they step up and have great attitudes throughout the whole game.”

Adriana, Banda, and Marta all had their shots blocked in a barrage of chances for Orlando in the 51st minute, earning a corner for their efforts. That corner was cleared by the Current and Chawinga was wreaking havoc at the other end in a flash. Her cross skipped in front of goal, but Moorhouse collected it before the Current could capitalize. In the 55th minute, Chawinga sent a shot directly at Moorhouse. The goalkeeper couldn’t handle it, but her back line was able to clear away the danger during the panic.

Kansas City Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski made his first substitution in the 56th minute, bringing in Bayley Feist for Lavogez. In the 57th minute, Hailie Mace was shown a yellow card for yet another foul against Marta.

Things took an unexpected turn in the 60th minute. Sams came up with another important tackle to spark a counterattack that sent Banda downfield in a hurry. The forward dribbled towards the box and then slipped a nice pass in to tee up a shot for Adriana. The Brazilian’s first shot was blocked, and she rushed to poke at the rebound, getting fouled by Franch in the process. Franch was shown a yellow card while Adriana remained down and the Pride were awarded a penalty. Marta took it and beat Franch to give Orlando an unlikely lead while down a player on the road. Purists may say her penalty kick was too driven to be a panenka, but it was crafty, deceptive, and wound up in the back of the net all the same.

The goal showcased Orlando’s commitment to keep attacking for a winner despite being a player down in the second half.

“It didn’t change,” Hines said in regards to the team’s game plan after the red card. “We came into this game with the intention that we wanted to win. Whether we have 10 players or 11 players, it doesn’t matter. We always feel like there’s an opportunity for us to win.”

Chasing a result, Feist had a shot from distance in the 66th minute. It took a deflection, but Moorhouse was able to make the save without any trouble. Hutton had a shot from distance in the 68th minute, but it went over the crossbar. The Pride’s defense did a great job limiting the Current to tougher shooting opportunities and pressed when needed to stop Kansas City from gaining momentum.

Hines then added some fresher legs with a pair of substitutions in the 69th minute, with Cori Dyke and Ally Watt replacing Adriana and Angelina. Watt did fairly well when defending and applying pressure, although she did concede a foul in the 74th minute that gave the Current a free kick in a dangerous area. Debinha is lethal from set piece situations, but the Pride’s wall did its job to stop the shot.

Banda had a chance to expand Orlando’s lead in the 80th minute, but Franch managed an impressive kick save to deny her. She had another chance in the 84th minute while surrounded by Kansas City players, but her shot went wide.

Andonovski made another change in the 85th minute, with Brazilian defender Lauren coming on for Ball. The Current started to pick up the pace, creating better opportunities as the game neared its end. Feist had a shot from distance that went over the bar like many others, but it wasn’t off by much.

Hines responded by bringing in another defender, with Bri Martinez coming off the bench for Marta to help see out the match. Moorhouse came up with another big save in stoppage time against Ellie Wheeler after the ball took a weird bounce off of Abello. The Current were relentless, but the Pride proved why they have the best defense in the league.

“I think it says so much about our mentality,” Abello said after the match. “Going a player down obviously isn’t the best situation, but you can still get points. We’ve played some of our better football when we’re a player down. We still found the spaces. We still played well. It’s all about making good decisions and just being gritty in the defensive third.”

Mace had a shot with plenty of heat on it that went just off target and Chawinga put a header wide of goal in the final moments in the Current’s best chances of an onslaught of attacks successfully endured by the Pride. The final whistle blew after a little over 10 minutes of stoppage time and the Pride claimed all three points on the road.

Lawrence’s red card shifted things as far as statistics go, but it was far from one-sided, as the Current finished with more possession (57%-43%), shots (23-15), shots on target (13-11), and crosses (26-11). The Current also completed 74% of their passes while the Pride completed 68% of theirs. Both teams had five corner kicks. Moorhouse finished the game with seven saves, and Franch ended up with three.

“We showed so much character, so much heart,” Strom said. “To be honest, even when we went a man down, we were never in doubt. We knew we could win this game. From the beginning of this year, we knew we had something special with this team and we just proved it.”

There was plenty of attention on this match as it pitted the league’s two previously undefeated sides against each other for the first time this season. It was the most impressive result yet for a team that has far exceeded expectations this season. Seb Hines has spoken often this year about the team’s tenacity and this match was a testament to the work the Pride have put in to reach the top of the table.

“To go down to 10 players so early in the game and show the character that we’ve been talking about all season long is just incredible,” Hines said. “To come into this environment, we knew that was going to be a tough game. Same amount of points, same amount of wins, same amount of ties, there was nothing between us going into this game. I think we showed our character, our personality.”


The win gives the Orlando Pride sole possession of first place in the NWSL standings after 16 games. They are in a great spot as the league takes a break for the Olympics and the Summer Cup. Marta, Adriana, Rafaelle, Angelina, Banda, and Grace Chanda will all be in Paris for the tournament.

The Pride’s next game will come in the group stage of the inaugural NWSL X Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup when they take on the North Carolina Courage on July 20. Their next NWSL match isn’t until Aug. 23, when they face the Houston Dash on the road.

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