Sometimes the little things just don’t add up, and when that happens, you need the luck of a free kick. Christine Nairn provided that kick on Sunday and found Chioma Ubogagu in the second half to keep the Pride unbeaten at home in nine games.
Once again, it’s time to break down the team’s and each player’s performance and find our Player of the Match.
GK, Ashlyn Harris, 6 — I thought this was probably Harris’ best game so far in this young season, and not just because of the shutout. She finally laid off the long balls to nowhere and let the defense play it out. I think that helped with possession quite a bit against a Houston team that, in my opinion, has excelled in the midfield at times. She wasn’t truly tested in the net, but even if you are only called upon twice, you’ve gotta step up, and she did.
D, Ali Krieger, 6.5 — Orlando came out with three defenders, and this kept Ali on defense most of the match where she did quite well. She put a stop to a number of attacks and the highlight for me was when she battled Thembi Kgatlana in the box for what seemed like forever as both teams looked on. She came out on top and got the ball clear. She was the main defender in getting the ball forward, and had quite a few laser passes to the midfield to push possession into the attack. Jane Campbell had a fingertip save in the 82nd minute to keep Krieger from sliding one into the net. I think this too, was her best game yet.
D, Shelina Zadorsky, 6.5 — Shelina played the central defender and although she had a slow start in terms of seeing action, each and every time Houston threatened she played a part in breaking it down. She won a fantastic ball near the end of the match and put it in a great spot for Alex Morgan to go 1-v-1 against Amber Brooks, which unfortunately didn’t pan out.
D, Toni Pressley, 6 — Toni had a solid game too, but I’m putting her slightly lower because she trailed the other two defenders in passing and couldn’t get the ball forward as much as I’ve seen her do in previous games.
MF, Kristen Edmonds, 5.5 — Like Carson Pickett, Edmonds was allowed to get involved a bit more due to the 3-5-2/3-4-3 that the Pride played in, which relieved a bit of pressure. But just a bit. She was great on dropping back to help out on defense but in getting the ball forward — or being the one to get forward — it just wasn’t there. A better pass from Chi at the end of the first half would have put Kristen in a 1-v-1 with Jane Campbell, so that is unfortunate. She had the lowest amount of touches in the midfield again (out of players going the full 90 minutes) with 48 compared to Nairn’s 80, and Dani Weatherholt’s 79.
MF, Dani Weatherholt, 8 (PotM) — That’s right, an 8. And I might be doing her a disservice. You could honestly make a 10-minute highlight reel out of what she did on the pitch Sunday. As mentioned above, she had one less touch than the team high of 80. She had a stellar passing rate of 92.1 (on 63 passes!). Not a single player on the pitch matched her intensity and although she doesn’t have the assist or the goal, the Pride walked away with three points because of Weatherholt.
Go find the game on the NWSL website. You should watch the entire match and focus on her, but if you are short on time, find the 52:20 mark. This will give you time to settle in for the Dani Weatherholt show. You will see after a few seconds the Pride forwards just watching Houston kick it around and build possession. Weatherholt bursts into the camera frame and immediately wrecks possession. Houston bailed themselves out by lobbing it 20 yards and as soon as it settled on the feet of the Houston player, Weatherholt was already there disrupting that ball. Alex Morgan was nearby but just watched instead of making it a 2-v-1 situation. At that point, Weatherholt was finally put on the ground, and Morgan decided to finally help. But Weatherholt did this all match, with the notable exception of the 78th minute, when she stood on the sideline to clear up a bloody nose. Slacker.
She covered so much ground with so much pace that it was incredible to watch, and I’m glad I gave the game a second watch to really appreciate this. Hopefully Jill Ellis does this at some point, too.
MF, Christine Nairn, 6.5 — All the numbers are there for Nairn: Team high in touches, team high with her three chances created, and the all-time assist leader notched another one on a great free kick. And the rest of her set pieces were a lot better than in previous matches, too. The only knock would be the 76.9% passing, but I also give Houston a bit of credit for clogging that midfield and causing havoc all day.
MF, Carson Pickett, 5.5 — Like I said with Edmonds, moving Pickett up the field took a bit of pressure off her and allowed her to settle into the game a bit more. It still wasn’t great, but she had a few good moments that should have unlocked the offense with a bit more luck. She had a great steal in the 29th minute and then put it forward to Morgan, and right before she was subbed out in the 64th, she put a stellar ball forward that Morgan should have buried.
F, Chioma Ubogagu, 6 — What can I say that hasn’t already been said? This season, she’s been a bit messy with the ball at her feet, and the passes, although great looks, are always just a bit off so the play dies. But her effort is always there. We see so much (for better or worse) in regards to Chi’s game, because she’s almost always involved. If she could play facing the goal a bit more, I know we’d see some drastic improvement. She played 10 fewer minutes but only had two fewer touches than Sydney Leroux, and had five more touches than Morgan. Even with all the poor touches and poor passes, she was the hero of the day once again, and now has one more goal than the rest of the team combined, which was a Marta penalty in the season opener. Love the effort.
F, Alex Morgan, 4 — As always after a match like this, I hear excuses in regards to the service not being there for Morgan, that she was making runs that no one saw. I didn’t see that on Sunday, or my rewatch. A shot in the 63rd minute that she never misses sailed over the net. She then fired one off late in the game that gave some poor soul Carlos Rivas flashbacks. She had 39 touches, the lowest passing percentage at 44%, and her two shots were way off target. Amber Brooks had a good game against her, but she absolutely has to start delivering. She did give good pressure at times during the match, which was nice to see.
F, Sydney Leroux, 4 — Pretty much the same story as Morgan. I’ll add here that the two of them clearly have chemistry, because there were a lot of good looks from each one to the other. None of them worked out, but if they can start clicking completely, the results will come. Her wide-open miss in the 84th minute was the capper on a very uneventful day for Leroux.
F, Rachel Hill (64’), 4.5 — Hill wasn’t able to get involved too much, and when she was, Kristie Mewis was there to ruin the day. But it took a solid 10 minutes of her being in before she got that first solid touch down the side.
MF, Abby Elinsky (81’), N/A — Elinsky once again saw a bit of time and, although it wasn’t much, I saw some good positioning from her to relieve pressure from others. Not much else to say unfortunately, which is a shame because what I’ve seen from her so far has been fun and promising. Now with most of the other players coming back, it could be the last time we see her for a while.
F, Danica Evans (90+1), N/A — This was a “run out the clock” sub in exchange for Leroux. Evans finished with four touches and completely nailed her one pass for a 100% rating! In all seriousness though, she always pushes, no matter the time given.
There you have it. That’s my assessment, and as always, I’d love to hear what you saw and let me know what I got wrong (or right!) And of course, be sure to vote below on your Player of the Match.
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Orlando Pride Sign Defender Emily Madril to New Contract
The center back signs a new three-year deal, keeping her in Orlando through 2026.
The Orlando Pride announced today that the club has signed starting center back Emily Madril to a new three-year contract. The defender originally signed a three-year deal with the NWSL, running through the 2025 season, but this new contract will keep her in Orlando through 2026.
“I had a great rookie year here and had so much fun and love everyone in the Orlando Pride organization,” Madril said in a club press release. “The chemistry that we have in the locker room between all the girls and the entire coaching staff is just amazing and played a big factor in me wanting to stay here in Orlando. I am so excited to be a part of the Pride for the future and continue to be a part of the special thing we are building here.”
After leaving Florida State University following her junior season, Madril signed a three-year contract with the NWSL and went on loan to Swedish Damallsvenskan side BK Hacken. The Pride drafted the defender with the third overall selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, immediately putting her into the starting lineup.
Madril initially started alongside Caitlin Cosme at center back, before being joined by Megan Montefusco and, eventually, Rafaelle. She showed her versatility on two occasions, starting at right back.
The Boise, ID native started all 22 regular-season games for the Pride, recording a rookie-leading 1,977 minutes, and she only came off late in the season finale against the Houston Dash when the Pride needed a goal. She completed 814 of her 953 passes (85.4%), 46 of her 103 long passes (44.7%), and took one off-target shot. Defensively, she added 19 blocks and 19 interceptions, won 17 of her 28 tackles (60.7%), and was successful on 76 of her 122 duels (62.3%).
Madril also played in five of the team’s six Challenge Cup games, recording 450 minutes. She completed 193 of 224 passes in those games (86.2%) and 13 of 25 long balls (52%). She continued to be a key defensive presence in those midseason cup matches, recording 10 blocks and four interceptions, as well as winning 10 of her 18 tackles (55.6%) and 32 of her 47 duels (68.1%).
“Emily came in and made an immediate impact, just as we expected she would when we drafted her,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in the club’s release. “She was a reliable presence in our back line throughout the entire season and showed her potential to be one of the best defenders in the league. Her maturity and professionalism shined throughout the entire year, and we are very happy to be able to have her with the Pride for the years to come. She is an important part of what we are building here, and she wants to be a part of it, which we are very excited about.”
Madril has also had a presence for the United States at the international level, receiving call-ups for the U-19, U-20, and U-23 U.S. Women’s National Teams.
What It Means for Orlando
Madril was a key piece of the Pride’s team in 2023 and the club hopes she’ll be for a long time to come. She showed early on that she can become one of the best defenders in the NWSL and her time at right back indicated she has the versatility valued by Carter and Pride Head Coach Seb Hines.
The 24-year-old was already signed to a three-year deal through the 2025 season, so this keeps her in Orlando for an additional year. Terms were not disclosed, but it’s likely she got a raise as well. If she continues to improve on how she played this season, the Pride will undoubtedly look to extend her even further into the future. For next year, she’ll likely continue starting alongside Rafaelle, making up a formidable center back pairing the club can count on.
2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Anna Moorhouse
The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s first as the Orlando Pride’s starting goalkeeper.
The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s second with the Orlando Pride and her first as the team’s starting goalkeeper. She was originally signed prior to the 2022 season, backing up veteran Erin McLeod that year. However, the Canadian international left the team, resulting in Moorhouse taking over the starting role.
Let’s take a look at Moorhouse’s first season starting for the Pride.
Moorhouse started 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games, playing 1,623 minutes. The team’s record in those games was 9-9-1, as she conceded 22 goals, saving 72 of her 94 shots faced (76.6%). She ended the year with seven clean sheets, 19 catches, six punches, and four drops. The Pride’s number one completed 387 of her 573 passes (67.5%) out of the back and 115 of her 292 long balls. The passing accuracy in her own half was 79.1% and 32.4% in the opposing half. She conceded one foul and won two, getting sent off in the third minute of the team’s 1-0 loss to OL Reign on Sept. 3.
The English shot stopper also played in four Challenge Cup games, recording 360 minutes. She conceded 10 goals in the competition with no clean sheets and saved 13 of her 23 shots faced (56.5%). Moorhouse had three catches, one punch, and no drops in the secondary competition. She successfully completed 69 of her 111 passes (62.2%) and 29 of her 68 long passes (42.6%). Similar to the regular season, her pass completion percentage was far higher in her own half (76.4%) than in the opposing half (35.9%). Additionally, she won a foul and didn’t concede any.
Moorhouse’s most active game was the season opener against the Portland Thorns, where she faced 27 shots and made 12 saves. However she conceded four goals and one was her fault. Her best game of the year came on Oct. 2 in Los Angeles and it was a critical one. Adriana scored in the 22nd minute against Angel City FC to give the Pride a 1-0 lead and the visitors held on for dear life to claim three points that put them in the running for a playoff spot.
One of Moorhouse’s seven clean sheets, the goalkeeper made seven saves on the night, her second-most of the season. Most of Angel City’s shots were right at the goalkeeper, but she was sure-handed, something that plagued her earlier in the year. In the 57th minute, Claire Emslie beat Haley McCutcheon to the ball inside the six-yard box, but Moorhouse was decisive in coming out, forcing the forward to send her shot into the side netting. Her biggest moment of the game came in the 86th minute, when substitute Sydney Leroux got her head on the ball and put it on target. Moorhouse tipped the attempt over the crossbar, maintaining the Pride’s narrow 1-0 lead.
2023 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Moorhouse a composite grade of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 NWSL season. Shot stopping was her strength, but she struggled at other aspects, especially holding onto the ball. On multiple occasions this season, her inability to hold onto a catch resulted in second chances and goals for the opposition. She struggled in the team’s penultimate game against Racing Louisville, effectively ending the Pride’s season, and her third-minute red card against OL Reign was likely a determining factor in a crucial 1-0 loss. However, she had seven clean sheets on the season and was the team’s best goalkeeper.
Moorhouse’s initial contract was a two-year deal, running through the 2023 season. While there were questions about her dependability in goal this season, Seb Hines and Haley Carter were pleased with her performances, awarding her with a new contract on Oct. 5, keeping the goalkeeper in purple through at least the 2025 season. The Pride now have four goalkeepers under contract for next year, and Moorhouse will be challenged for her role as the starter by new signing Sofia Manner.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
- Kaylie Collins (10/23/23)
- Amanda Allen (10/24/23)
- Celia (10/25/23)
- Brianna Martinez (10/26/23)
- Thais Reiss (10/29/23)
- Mariana Larroquette (10/30/23)
- Tori Hansen (11/1/23)
- Jordyn Listro (11/2/23)
- Caitlin Cosme (11/5/23)
- Summer Yates (11/6/23)
- Ally Watt (11/9/23)
- Megan Montefusco (11/13/23)
- Carly Nelson (11/14/23)
- Julie Doyle (11/16/23)
- Viviana Villacorta (11/20/23)
- Kerry Abello (11/23/23)
- Rafaelle (11/27/23)
- Erika Tymrak (11/28/23)
- Haley McCutcheon (11/29/23)
- Kylie Strom (11/30/23)
Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner
The Pride have added a fourth goalkeeper and the second one from abroad ahead of the 2024 NWSL season.
The Orlando Pride announced today the signing of goalkeeper Sofia Manner, who was acquired for an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. Manner has signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. The signing is a bit curious as it comes less than two months after the Pride extended English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse through the 2025 season, giving Orlando two international goalkeepers and four total netminders under contract.
“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to join Orlando Pride, a team I have admired since my youth,” Manner said in a club press release. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to contribute to such a renowned organization in women’s soccer. The prospect of starting this journey fills me with great enthusiasm, and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to the team. I’m ready to put in hard work and help write a new chapter for the Orlando Pride.”
Manner, who turned 26 on Nov. 9, conceded the fewest goals in the Kansallinen Liiga this season and is a nominee for the league’s Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. She appeared in 23 matches and earned 10 clean sheets across all competitions, was twice named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Month this season, and was Player of the Month in April.
“Sofia is a tremendous addition to our goalkeeping corps and one we expect to challenge for the starting position,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. “She brings an underdog mentality and gritty work ethic and fits every aspect of the profile we have built for our goalkeepers. Her size, aerial ability, shot-stopping prowess, and distribution are world class. She brings international experience and has led the Kansallinen Liiga in nearly every goalkeeping metric. Her nominations for Goalkeeper of the Year and Best Player are indicative of her winning mentality and drive to be the best. We are excited to bring her to Orlando and to give her an opportunity to prove herself in our environment and in the NWSL.”
The shot stopper has experience playing in the United States, having played collegiately with Stony Brook University. She compiled a 1.14 career goals-against average across three seasons, which is fourth-best in Seawolves’ history. Her 20 shutouts ranks third in program history, and she compiled a .796 save percentage, which is ninth best all time.
While at Stony Brook, Manner was named America East Freshman of the Year in 2017, was a first-team all-conference selection in 2019, and was the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She started in every match in her final two seasons at Stony Brook, backstopping the Seawolves to an America East conference championship in 2019 and a regular-season title in 2018.
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride currently have four goalkeepers under contract: 2023 starter Anna Moorhouse (through 2025), backup Carly Nelson (through 2024), third keeper Kaylie Collins (through 2024), and now Manner (through 2025). Collins is on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League Women in Australia. Four goalkeepers will provide spirited competition in preseason camp, to be sure, but it’s likely that one of these players will be on the move at some point.
If Manner wins the starting goalkeeper spot from Moorhouse, it may be for reasons other than stopping shots. Moorhouse did a good enough job of that, but often struggled with balls in from the wings, which was illustrated in the Pride’s penultimate game of the year — a must-win match at Racing Louisville — when a routine-looking corner kick cross appeared to be easily catchable, but Moorhouse went for a punch instead and knocked the winning goal for Louisville into her own net. That dropped point in the standings put Orlando in jeopardy on Decision Day and indeed the Pride beat Houston but missed the postseason on goal differential. It was a crucial point dropped.
That wasn’t Moorhouse’s only major error on the season, as she set an NWSL record with the earliest sending off in league history with her third-minute red card at OL Reign on Sept. 3 — a match the Pride lost 1-0 while playing one player short for 87 minutes plus stoppage. She has also frequently spilled crosses and shots from distance.
Orlando needed to upgrade the position. Whether Manner is an upgrade remains to be seen, but as Carter said, she is expected to compete for the starting spot. If nothing else, the competition should be good for the Pride. If Manner does take the starting position, it seems logical that the club will look to move either Moorhouse or Nelson.
The goalkeeper position will provide one of the Pride’s most intriging camp battles.
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