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Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Final Score 0-0 In Orlando Home Finale

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With a chance to earn a historic playoff spot, the Orlando Pride (10-6-7, 37 points) could not find the back of the net in the Pride’s final home game of 2017. Portland (12-5-6, 42 points), which has allowed the second fewest goals all season, showed its strong defense as the Pride and Thorns went goalless in front 7,353 fans in Orlando City Stadium. The Thorns are now unbeaten in five matches and the Pride also extended their unbeaten streak to eight (5-0-3) and earned their first-ever point against Portland in four meetings (0-3-1).

“It was a stressful game out there today,” said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “Portland are a very good side. I thought it would be a grave injustice if we would’ve lost it. I think we limited them to one real chance. I think we dominated the game, particularly the first 30 minutes. I thought we played really well, but defensively they are a really good team. I was delighted with how our players went about the job tactically. I was delighted with the effort and thought if any team deserved to win it should be us.”

Kristen Edmonds made her first start since Orlando’s 2-1 win in Kansas City, coming back from a calf injury. The rest of the defense remained the same from the Seattle game and Camila slid forward into the midfield. This forced rookie Rachel Hill to a bench role with Alex Morgan, Marta, and Chioma Ubogagu leading the Pride attack to start. 

Orlando clearly wanted to get an early goal and pushed forward in the beginning of the game. Chi had two shots in the first five minutes, and Steph Catley and Marta both had crossing opportunities. Morgan should have put the Pride ahead in the 12th minute, but the forward’s breakaway attempt was poor and Thorns’ ‘keeper Adrianna Franch caught the ball with ease. 

After about four blocked shots from long range in the 18th minute, Alanna Kennedy took a low right-footed shot. Franch might not have made it in time to cover her left post, but Kennedy’s shot went inches wide and the game remained scoreless.

Most of the first half was all Pride, but in the 35th minute Portland started getting forward. The Thorns had a few chances, but their best opportunity was in the 40th minute when Ashleigh Sykes got in behind the Orlando defense after Hayley Raso played a beautiful through ball. Portland should have went ahead but Ashlyn Harris got a hand on it, and then Monica cleared the ball away from danger as it continued rolling toward goal.

The first half ended goalless, but both teams had chances to get ahead. The theme of the first 45 minutes was Orlando getting chance after chance, but the Pride were unable to break Portland’s defense. The Thorns held their shape regardless of what the Pride attempted, and Orlando was simply not good enough. The Pride led in total shots (12-4), shots on target (2-1), possession (56%-44%), corners (2-1), and total passes (257-201), but the Thorns’ defense dominated.

Not five minutes into the second half, Sermanni was forced to make his first substitution after Catley went down with an injury. Jasmyne Spencer came on and went into the attacking line, moving Chi down to left back. This is the second time that Ubogagu has ever played left back in her life, the first being Orlando’s 1-1 draw against Chicago this year. After the game, Sermanni said that Catley had some inflammation in her knee and the substitution was to ensure that she will be ready for the season finale and playoffs.

Five minutes later, Tobin Heath made her first appearance of the year, coming on for Nadia Nadim. The U.S. Women’s National Team member immediately provided a spark for the visitors when she entered, and Portland started pressing more. Amandine Henry also came on for Allie Long. 

“It’s always good to have your best players in the league,” said Sermanni about Tobin Heath coming back from injury. “It’s not so good when they’re baring down on your penalty area one against one, but I think for the good of the league it’s terrific to see her back. She a wonderful player. She has a great personality, she’s a great professional. It’s always good to have those players, and we need as many of those players in the league as we can get. It was really good to see her back, and even better that she didn’t score.”

In what started as a slow half, the Pride responded to Portland’s high pressure by picking up the pace themselves. Camila, who got beat up throughout the game, did not give up after being fouled in the 65th minute. The ref did not call anything and the Brazilian controlled the ball from the ground, got up, retained possession, and started a Pride attack. Nothing came from it, but the pace of the gave quickened and both teams started going for the three points. 

The Pride kept trying to play a direct game, hit long balls forward and use their speed to break the Portland back line. This plan did not work however, and often led to chances at the other end of the field for the Thorns. 

The Pride threw players forward as the game came to an end, but they were unable to get the win. While not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs after the draw, the Pride sit in a fantastic spot with one game remaining. Seattle needs two wins and to make up seven goal differential in order to have a chance at sneaking into the playoffs.

“[The draw] puts an awful lot of pressure on Seattle to win both games and turn a seven-goal difference around,” Sermanni said. “I think I’d much rather be in our position now than Seattle’s position but we still theoretically need another point.”

The Pride play their final game of the season on Saturday, Sept 30. when Orlando travels to NWSL leaders North Carolina. The Pride need a point in that match to guarantee a spot in the final four.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

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Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

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Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

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