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PawedCast Episode 126: Toni Pressley Interview, Toronto Rewind, Stadium Policies, Orlando Pride, and More

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Well, we’d rather be talking about an important road point at Toronto but Ryan Telfer screwed that up for us late in Orlando City’s most recent game and instead the Reds continue to have the Lions’ number. We discuss the 2-1 loss on the road without Dom Dwyer and how it all went. We also chatted about the new stadium policies unveiled this week in the wake of the Atlanta game and looked ahead to the Orlando Pride’s double game week.

After that, Pride defender/midfielder Toni Pressley stopped by to talk about the team’s season so far, her job all over the pitch for Tom Sermanni, her physical transformation through a fitness and diet regimen, and much more.

We wrap up by answering our light mailbag in our Ask The Mane Land PawedCast segment and give you our key match-ups and score predictions for Orlando City’s home date with the Chicago Fire this Saturday.

If there’s something you want us to address on our next show, just tweet it to us @TheManeLand with the hashtag #AskTMLPC.


Here’s how show No. 126 went down:

0:12- The Lions just can’t get one over on Toronto, injury updates, no more bottles and cans at the stadium, and the Pride with two key matches this week.

42:46- Dave asks Toni Pressley to make more YouTube videos, the Pride are ready for North Carolina, and more in our guest interview.

55:23- The #AskTMLPC mailbag and our predictions for the Lions vs. the Fire.

Orlando Pride

Pride Scoring Just Enough in Undefeated Run

The Orlando Pride are riding an unbeaten streak, but could get more out of their attack.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride have started the 2024 NWSL season undefeated through five matches and sit fifth in the table. After three draws to start the campaign, they won their next two matches with 1-0 victories. In these matches, the Pride played well enough to win by multiple goals, but instead found themselves fighting for narrow wins late due to missed opportunities to extend their lead. For this team to meet or exceed their ambitions this season, they will need to score more goals from the quality chances they’re creating. 

The most important fact of the young season is that the Pride are getting results. They have possessed the ball well, created chances, and scored in each match. However, much of the plaudits must go to the team’s defending. The Pride currently boast the league’s second best defense in terms of goals conceded at only four. This rigid defense secured back-to-back clean sheets against the Utah Royals and San Diego Wave, ensuring one goal was enough for all three points in each match.

On the other end of the pitch, the Pride have created a significant number of opportunities to score but have not rewarded themselves by putting the ball in the net. Through five matches, Orlando has taken more shots than its opponents four times, matching its opponent’s shot total in the other match. While this puts the Pride third in the league in shots taken, they are 10th in the league in shooting accuracy, with only 31% of their shots being placed on target. 

For all the opportunities created in the final third, the Pride have generated 8.7 expected goals (xG) per FBref, enough for fifth in the league. This means if the Pride were finishing their chances at an average rate for a club in the NWSL, they would have scored roughly nine goals at this point in the season. However, with only four goals attributed to Pride players, the team’s underperformance relative to its expected goals (-4.7) is the lowest in the NWSL by a wide margin. On the other end of the spectrum, the Kansas City Current have been ruthless when attacking, scoring 17 goals despite only marginally better expected goals (9.4) than the Pride. Neither team should count on their current five-game form to continue for a full 26-game season. The Pride will certainly need to work to make sure their scoring form improves.

Going beyond the numbers, it is important to look at how the Pride are putting the ball in the net. First, only Marta and Yates have scored, contributing two apiece, which matches the tally of own goals benefitting the Pride. Interestingly, these players occupy similar positions, with Yates subbing on for Marta, or vice versa, each match until the most recent time out against San Diego, when they started together. All four goals have been one-touch finishes from in the box, though the degree of difficulty on Marta’s finishes has been a bit higher.

The similarities in the way the Pride are scoring don’t end there either. Each of the six total goals scored by the Pride has come from one of two distinct attacking situations. In the first situation, Kerry Abello, the left back, has the ball at her feet on the left side of the opponent’s box before firing it into a dangerous area. Against Louisville, she received the ball out wide, used her footwork to get half a yard of space, and crossed the ball across the six-yard box, where an opposing defender deflected it into their own net. Against Utah, Abello made a late run into the box, fielded an overhit cross from Ally Watt, and sent it back across the six to Marta, who finished in style, securing the 1-0 victory. Abello’s most recent contribution came against San Diego. As has been an encouraging theme to start the season, Abello received an inviting pass from Angelina, drove into the box, and hit a hard shot across the goalkeeper that was saved and went into the path of Yates for the tap-in. 

These goals created by Abello are owed to her unique skills. Though she has been filling in at left back due to Rafaelle’s injury, Abello had often played in the attack before this season. As a coach who knows how to maximize the talent at his disposal, Hines has given Abello the freedom to join the attack and make late runs off the left side. When she does, she has been poorly marked by the opponent, creating mismatches on that side of the pitch and opportunities for herself and teammates. 

The second main scoring avenue for the Pride has been set pieces. Angelina, who joined the club in the off-season, has been the primary set-piece taker. Against Racing Louisville, her free kick from 40 yards out was flicked on by Amanda Allen into the path of Yates, who redirected it past the goalkeeper. Against Angel City FC, Angelina’s corner from the right was lofted to the far side of the box where Marta was able to volley brilliantly for the equalizer. Then, against the Chicago Red Stars, Angelina’s corner from the left was sent dangerously into a crowd near the goalkeeper, and a Chicago defender deflected it into her own net. With her right-footed deliveries, Angelina has contributed to half of all the goals scored by Orlando in 2024.

The last piece of the goal-scoring puzzle is the attacking scenarios that haven’t results in goals. So far, the wide midfielders and forwards have not scored or assisted. The majority of minutes at these positions have been played by Adriana, Julie Doyle, and Ally Watt, who combined for nine goals last season — six from Adriana alone. These players are capable of building on last year’s totals, and while the goal contributions are lagging, they are an integral part of the way Seb Hines wants his team to play. 

After the game against San Diego, Hines described a key aspect of the team’s attacking philosophy. “We want that threat in behind,” he said. “We want a player who is going to keep the back line honest because it’s such a threat, and with that it opens up little pockets of space for Marta to get on the ball, for Summer to get on the ball.”

As Hines said, a large amount of the attacking threat for the Pride has come from balls played into space out wide or over the top. Doyle, Watt, and Adriana are all pacey players and have gotten several opportunities to drive at defenders in transition. As shown by the high shot output, these plays are generating chances, but either by bad luck or poor finishing, they have not yet yielded the goals they deserve. One thing that can help turn these chances into goals is the addition of Barbra Banda, a prolific scorer and the second-most expensive signing in NWSL history, who has now debuted for Orlando. 

The Pride should not feel compelled to change what they are doing in the attack since they are creating a good number of chances. They will just hope that they can add the final touch that caps their strong attacking play with the goals to match. Yates said after her match-winning goal against San Diego, “I think we’re still finding our composure in and around the box. I know I should’ve had another one. I probably think about the one I missed more than the one I scored.” If Yates and her teammates can convert just one to two more chances per game, there will be many more wins coming their way.

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Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave FC: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Continue Unbeaten Run

The Pride extended their unbeaten run to five games with a 1-0 win over the San Diego Wave.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (2-0-3, 9 points) remained undefeated and won their second consecutive game with a 1-0 win over San Diego Wave FC (1-2-1, 4 points). Summer Yates’ 26th-minute goal was the difference as the Pride continue their strong start to the 2024 NWSL season.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes from the team that beat the Utah Royals 1-0 last week in Sandy, UT. Haley McCutcheon replaced Morgan Gautrat in the defensive midfield and Marta replaced Adriana in the attack after the Brazilian went down injured last weekend.

The back line in front of Anna Moorhouse was Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Bri Martinez. Angelina was joined in the defensive midfield by McCutcheon behind an attacking midfield of Julie Doyle, Marta, and Yates. Ally Watt was the lone striker for the fourth consecutive game.

The Pride dominated this game from start to finish. Chances by the visitors were few and far between as the Pride continued to create opportunities against Wave goalkeeper and Canadian international Kailen Sheridan. The final score should’ve been more decisive, but the Pride were unable to convert throughout the game, enabling the visitors to stay within reach. However, they were able to keep a clean sheet for the second straight week.

The Pride created the first chance of the game in the fourth minute when Yates sent Doyle behind Kristen McNabb on the right. Watt was behind the back line and looking to run onto the Doyle cross, but it was just out of her reach, enabling the Wave to clear.

The hosts had another attempt in the 12th minute and it was Doyle looking for Watt again. This time it was a forward pass, sending Watt behind the Wave back line. The speedster ran onto the ball, but Sheridan did well to come off her line and block the shot.

In the 16th minute, the Pride got behind the Wave defense on the right again, but this time it was Watt starting it. The forward’s pass for Yates was behind the midfielder, but the second-year player was able to find McCutcheon. After a brief touch, McCutcheon shot from distance, but it was blocked by Danielle Colaprico.

The attacking pressure by the Pride paid off in the 26th minute. It started on the right with Doyle again. The midfielder dribbled herself out of room but cut back to lose her defender and shot. While Sheridan did well to block it away, the Pride maintained possession. Abello ended up with the ball on the left and found enough space for her own shot. This attempt was also blocked by Sheridan, but right in front of the goal, where Yates volleyed it in to give the Pride a deserved 1-0 lead.

“I think I blacked out a little bit, but I know Kerry had the ball and she was driving and I was just trying to flow and find the second ball shot and it deflected and I was just in the right place at the right time,” Yates said about her goal. “I think my role in the box is just trying to hunt and try to put myself in position so I can score goals. So that’s what I try to do and I was in the right place at the right time.”

After playing sparingly in her rookie season, Yates has become a key part of the Pride attack this year. This is her second goal of the season and her first game-winner.

“Last year she was in and out. She played a lot of Challenge Cup games, but wasn’t right. She wasn’t ready for the league. And so we had a hard conversation and said ‘Listen, you have all the ability in the world. You’ve got to dedicate more time in yourself,’ and so she took that on board,” Hines said about Yates’ recent success. “She’s done so well in the off-season, which is now shown in her performance of late. And so, we’re really pleased with Summer, because it’s all come down to her and the dedication that she’s put into herself.”

“It means the world to me. Just to have the coaches’ trust means so much,” Yates said about her impact this year. “And being able to make an impact every game has been huge for me. I think I’m just continuing to learn and continue to be more consistent in and around the goal and every single game it just feels like it’s coming easier and easier.”

It looked like the Pride might have a second goal in the 34th minute when Marta sent Watt down the right. The forward’s cross was looking for Angelina or Yates in the box, but McNabb got to it first. The deflection was heading towards the near post, rolling just wide. However, the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside right after the block, canceling the play.

In the 37th minute, Abello found Angelina near the middle of the field and just outside of the box. The defensive midfielder lifted the ball into the box, where Doyle was between two defenders. Despite being outnumbered, Doyle won the ball, heading it on target. Unfortunately, it was right at Sheridan, who made the easy save.

The Pride had another great opportunity to double their lead in the 41st minute when Marta played the ball back for Yates in the middle of the box. She mishit the ball, but it went right to Doyle near the far post. It appeared to be an easy tap-in for Doyle, but she also was unable to get a solid foot on the ball, sending it off target from close range.

The hosts had one last chance in the first half, which came a minute into stoppage time. Watt laid the ball off for McCutcheon outside of the box and the defensive midfielder lifted a cross in for Watt. The forward was left open to get her head on the ball but sent it wide of the target.

It was an absolutely dominant first-half performance by the Pride as they had more possession (52.2%-47.8%), shots (12-1), shots on target (5-0), corners (2-0), and crosses (17-1), and better passing accuracy (90.3%-83.5%). However, they could only convert on one chance, keeping the visitors in the game.

San Diego forced Moorhouse into rare action shortly after the restart when halftime substitute Kaitlyn Torpey threw the ball in to Jaedyn Shaw on the right. The forward attempted the send the ball across the box, but it was too close to the Pride goalkeeper.

The Pride had their first second-half chance in the 47th minute when Doyle made a long run into the Wave box. She cut outside to lose Naomi Girma and shot, but the attempt was blocked by center back Abby Dahlkemper.

In the 48th minute, Doyle went down with an apparent cramp during a stoppage of play. After receiving treatment by the Pride medical staff, the attacker was replaced by Adriana in the 50th minute.

Yates continued to be a nuisance for the Wave back line in the 56th minute when she made a long diagonal run to the top of the box. Dribbling past multiple defenders, the midfielder took a shot from the top of the 18 but sent it wide.

The 61st minute saw the moment the crowd of 7,701 at Inter&Co Stadium had been waiting for. Barbra Banda, joining the Pride with the second-highest transfer fee in NWSL history, made her league debut, replacing Watt.

“Be mindful of the player’s care,” Hines said about giving Banda 30 minutes. “You know, she’s gone through a lot with qualifying for the Olympics and then coming over here, flying out to Orlando, having her integrate with the team, getting to know the players. But I thought it was really important for her to take a backseat and just watch and analyze the game and the speed of the game.”

It didn’t take long for the forward to get involved, getting her first shot off less than a minute after entering the game. The attempt was blocked and went to Yates at the top of the box. The first-half goal scorer took her own attempt, but that too was blocked.

In the 67th minute, Angelina sent the ball out wide for Yates. The midfielder had space to find her target and sent a cross for Banda making a back-post run. The Zambian international got her head to the ball, but it was right to Sheridan.

It looked like Banda might get her first NWSL goal in the 73rd minute when Adriana sent the forward behind the Wave back line. However, Sheridan did well to come off her line and block the attempt with her legs, keeping the score at 1-0.

Shortly after the attempt, Hines made his final two changes of the game. Ally Lemos and Rafaelle came on for Yates and Marta. It was Rafaelle’s first appearance for the Pride in 2024 after missing the first four games of the season with a fracture in her left foot, suffered while playing for Brazil during the semifinal of the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.

“We brought her in for a reason last year, and so we wanted to start where she just left off,” Hines said about Rafaelle’s first appearance of the season. “Again, be mindful of where players are at coming back from injury. It’s never easy, especially in this league. So managing her minutes appropriately, constant communication with the medical staff, and see what a player can give.”

The Wave had their best chance of the game in the 82nd minute when a quick give-and-go between Torpey and Kimmi Ascanio saw Torpey send a cross into the box. Savannah McCaskill slid in to send the ball back across goal where Alex Morgan was charging in. Sams and Moorhouse were there to keep the ball out of the goal and Morgan went down behind the goal line with an injured ankle.

Hobbling back to the San Diego bench, the striker was unable to continue in the game. Since the Wave had already used all five subs for the game, they had to play the final minutes with 10 players.

Despite being down a player, San Diego continued to push for an equalizer. In the first minute of stoppage time, Kennedy Wesley sent a long ball for Sofia Jakobsson. The Swedish international sent a cross into the box for Kyra Carusa, who turned and fired. She had space, but the shot was right to Moorhouse.

The Pride held possession on the right side of the field with Adriana and Banda, winning a late corner to avoid another San Diego attack. After eight minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew his final whistle, and the Pride came away with another three points.

San Diego ended the game with more possession (54.2%-45.8%), but the Pride dominated the other statistical categories. The hosts had more shots (20-4), shots on target (8-1), corner kicks (5-0), and crosses (26-7), and better passing accuracy (84.4%-84.1%).

“I’m really pleased with the players, the work and dedication that they’ve put in and everyone playing their role also. I felt that we dominated from start to finish,” Hines said about the performance. “I know San Diego had a lot of passes but passes around the back, which is fine for us, because it opens up the door for us to be lethal in transition. Would I have liked more goals? Absolutely. You know, it would be nice to get a couple more, but it wasn’t to be and we’ll continue to work on that area so we’re not just 1-0 towards the end of the game.”

“I just feel like we were in good spots tonight,” Angelina said about the game. “We saw the spaces and Ally (Watt) did a really good job at running behind them. We knew they were going to have a high press and we were just trying to be in the right spot at the right time. So I think the team did a really good job at that.”

While the team comes away with three points, the lack of goals remains a concern. They’ve outshot their opponents 55-18 in their last three games, but have only come away with one goal in each one.

“I think we’re still finding our composure around the box,” Yates said about the lack of goals. “I know I should have had another one. So I probably think about the one I missed more than the one I scored. But all of us just finishing our individual battles, beating our defenders, combining in around the attack, being patient. But yeah, I think it will come.”

Despite the lack of finishing, the Pride now have back-to-back clean sheets and the most in the league. They’re now undefeated through five games and have nine points, tying them on points with the North Carolina Courage and Washington Spirit for second, one point behind the Kansas City Current.


After a short homestand, the Pride will head back out on the road as they take on the Spirit next Friday night at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.

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Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

After their first win of the season, the Pride return home to face San Diego Wave FC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match preview as the Orlando Pride (1-0-3, 6 points) return home to face San Diego Wave FC (1-1-1, 4 points) tonight at Inter&Co Stadium. This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the teams in 2024, with the return game in San Diego scheduled for June 7.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.

History

The San Diego Wave joined the NWSL in 2022 and have only faced the Pride four times in their existence. The Pride have only lost once in those four games, posting a record of 2-1-1. The most recent meeting came on Aug. 25, 2023 in Orlando. Abby Dahlkemper gave the visitors the lead in the seventh minute before Adriana equalized just before halftime. But Kyra Carusa netted the winner in the 75th minute, giving the Pride their first loss against the Wave.

The first meeting last year was at Snapdragon Stadium on April 29 after Orlando’s 0-4-0 start to the season. It looked like it would be a fifth straight loss for the Pride when Jaedyn Shaw gave the hosts the early lead. But Adriana assisted Mikayla Cluff on the equalizer and Haley McCutcheon scored just before halftime to give the Pride the lead. Adriana later got her first goal of the season to put the game away as the Pride won 3-1.

The first-ever meeting was on Aug. 13, 2022  in San Diego. The lone goal in the game came from the penalty spot after a Julie Doyle cross hit the arm of Kaleigh Riehl in the first half. Meggie Dougherty Howard stepped up and buried the penalty. The Pride held on for 67 minutes to beat one of the top teams in the league, 1-0 away.

The second meeting was on Sept. 25 in Orlando and the Pride got off to a great start. Doughety Howard opened the scoring in the first half and Gunny Jonsdottir doubled the advantage in the second. It looked like the Pride were headed for six points out of six against the expansion side, but San Diego came storming back. Makenzy Doniak cut the lead in half and former Pride attacker Taylor Kornieck equalized late, resulting in a disappointing 2-2 draw.

Overview

The Pride got the 2024 NWSL season off to a good start, claiming three consecutive draws despite losing multiple key players. Last weekend, they traveled west of the Mississippi River for the first time as they faced the Utah Royals, who returned to the league after a four-year hiatus. The Pride were the better team throughout the 90 minutes and got a deserved winning goal when Marta struck in the 68th minute, shortly after coming on.

It’s been a tough start to the season in terms of availability for the Pride this year. They signed Zambian international Barbra Banda to replace Messiah Bright, but she has yet to play, as she was helping Zambia qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics. The team also lost multiple defenders, as Rafaelle was injured in the Concacaf W Gold Cup and Megan Montefusco underwent surgery to repair a long-term heel problem, ending her season before it began.

As a result of these absences, some players have had to occupy unusual positions. Left back Kylie Strom has been playing in the center alongside Emily Sams, and Kerry Abello, usually an attacking midfielder, is on the back line. The makeshift lineup has done well, only conceding multiple goals in the first game and claiming the first clean sheet of the season last weekend.

There was a bit of a scare to the attack in Utah when Adriana went down in the second half and had to be substituted. However, she’s back this weekend and expected to start tonight.

The Wave have been one of the league’s best teams since joining the NWSL in 2022. They finished third in their inaugural season and won the NWSL Shield last year. The success is largely due to the veteran team they built, taking advantage of the Pride’s rebuild by acquiring Alex Morgan, Emily van Egmond, Taylor Flint (nee Kornieck), and Jodie Taylor. Of those four players, only Morgan and van Egmond remain in San Diego.

This season has seen the worst start to a Wave season in team history. They won their first three games in 2022 and three of their first four last year. However, they lost their first game this season at home to the Kansas City Current and drew last weekend 0-0 against Racing Louisville. The only win was a 1-0 result over Seattle Reign FC on March 29.

Despite having a superstar striker in Morgan, both goals this year have come from the midfield. Sofia Jakobsson netted the goal in the season opener and van Egmond scored in the 1-0 win over Seattle. Morgan has recorded the team’s only assist this year, setting up van Egmond’s conversion.

While they haven’t started as strong as expected, the Wave are a difficult team to deal with. They have one of the NWSL’s best goalkeepers in Kailen Sheridan and an internationally experienced back line that has been together for three years. The attack is also prominent with Savannah McCaskill, Shaw, and Morgan.

Regardless of the opponent, the Pride nearly made the playoffs last year and are a better and more experienced team than they were a year ago. They don’t have their best lineup available yet, but are getting closer and might see the debuts of some key starters. The Pride are also coming off a strong performance in Utah and an undefeated start, providing momentum they haven’t had since 2021.

“The momentum is key,” Hines said going into this game. “I think what we’ve shown in the last four games is different sides who has different scenarios, different situations that the game has presented. Going back to that last game, creating some good opportunities finally taking one and putting it in the back of the net and having the desire to keep the ball out of the net to get well in and get three points and keeping up that momentum, bringing it back home against a good San Diego team, obviously shield winners from last year. It’s going to be a tough ask for the players, but they are fully prepared and know what the task is and what they need to do to win the game.” 

There are two changes to the availability report this weekend with Rafaelle being taken off and Morgan Gautrat (lower leg) listed as questionable. Simone Charley (right leg), Luana (excused absence), Megan Montefusco (right heel), and Viviana Villacorta (left knee) are still out.

Melanie Barcenas (hip) is the only player listed as out for the Wave tonight, though starting center back Naomi Girma (thigh) is listed as questionable.


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Brianna Martinez, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, Kerry Abello.

Defensive Midfielders: Angelina, Haley McCutcheon.

Attacking Midfielders: Julie Doyle, Marta, Summer Yates.

Forward: Ally Watt.

Bench: McKinley Crone, Ally Lemos, Amanda Allen, Barbra Banda, Mariana Larroquette, Celia, Carrie Lawrence, Adriana, Rafaelle.

San Diego Wave FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Kaelin Sheridan.

Defenders: Hanna Lundkvist, Abby Dahlkemper, Naomi Girma, Kristen McNabb.

Defensive Midfielders: Daniele Colaprico, Emily van Egmond.

Attacking Midfielders: Sofia Jakobsson, Savannah McCaskill, Jaedyn Shaw.

Forward: Alex Morgan.

Bench: Kimmi Ascanio, Hillary Beall, Elyse Bennett, Kyra Carusa, Makenzy Doniak, Mya Jones, Kaitlyn Torpey, Kennedy Wesley, Christen Westphal.

Referees

REF: Sergii Demianchuk.
AR1: Art Arustamyan.
AR2: Ben Rigel.
4TH: Michael O’Reilly.
VAR: Alexandra Billeter.
AVAR: Katherine McCormick.


How to Watch

Match Time: 8 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV: None.

Streaming: Amazon Prime Video.

Twitter: For live updates and rapid reaction, follow @TheManeLand and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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