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Orlando Pride vs. Sky Blue FC: Final Score 2-2 as Pride Drop Two Crucial Points



Facing a must-win match against the winless Sky Blue FC (0-13-4, 4 points) in Orlando City Stadium should have been an easy three points for the Orlando Pride but they struggled in the final third and made too many defensive mistakes in a 2-2 draw. Dani Weatherholt’s hustle was the reason why the Pride (8-6-6, 30 points) were even able to come away with a single point and Marta missed a penalty kick in the 97th minute that would have won it. Luckily for Orlando, the North Carolina Courage beat the Portland Thorns, winning the NWSL and helping the Pride move into third place in the NWSL standings.

“I think today’s game was probably a snapshot of our season,” said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “We had more than enough possession to win the game, we had, certainly, more than enough chances to win the game, probably hit the woodwork three or four times. We dominated large parts of the game but we just don’t put the game away. And then we seem to be again just defensively frail to give up easy opportunities that really shouldn’t happen.

“We could’ve gotten ourselves out of jail, for lack of a better word. Obviously, with having the penalty in the last minute. But again that’s been our season so far. I wish I had an answer. We need to be able to put games to bed when we dominate them so much. But we also need to stop giving up chances that are so easy for our opponents. I’m at a loss to be able to know how to remedy both of those to be honest.”

After an extended rest because of international break, Sermanni brought his team out with a few surprises in the starting XI. Alanna Kennedy, who played all three games in the Tournament of Nations as a center back for Australia, played the same position for the Pride tonight. Rachel Hill got her sixth start of the year and Chioma Ubogagu played as a wingback. 

The first 45 minutes can be described in one word — uneventful. Orlando dominated the half but only got one shot on goal. This shot came from a free kick set up by Marta. The Brazilian was about 25 yards from goal, in front of the entire Sky Blue defense, but had no help from her teammates. Marta used some fancy footwork to win a free kick. She then took the set piece, which was deflected off the wall and hit the crossbar. Dani Weatherholt was able to get a foot on the rebound but her shot was easily caught by Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. 

Ashlyn Harris was forced to make one save in the first half in the 28th minute. Savannah McCaskill threaded the Pride defense and played Imani Dorsey perfectly into the box. Harris was quick to react though and made the one-on-one save. 

Ubogagu was one of the better players in that first half. While she still had a couple of turnovers, she continuously took players on and put the ball into good areas.

“One of the reasons why I love football so much is the creativity aspect and that’s one of the things I really try to help the team,” said Ubogagu. “I want to create, I want to help score and assist goals. My teammates are doing a good job at getting the ball in good positions and I had space to try and find people. Rachel [Hill] and Marta were creating space and getting in the box. I think the team, we were using our system really well and in the second half the space was opening up for Kristen [Edmonds] to do the same thing. So I think the more and more we play this formation we’ll know our tendencies and what’s open and where to play the ball.”

Orlando led Sky Blue in possession (58%), shots (4-1), corners (2-0), passes (275-207), and passing accuracy (83%-71%) but the Pride could do nothing in the final third. 

“We need to just continue building our chemistry with whoever is up top, and building relationships and knowing what each other likes to do on and off the ball,” said Ubogagu. “We just got to keep going. We all really want to make the playoffs. As frustrating as this result is we still got a point out of it.”

Where the first half was uneventful, the second 45 kept everyone on their toes. It started out with Orlando using a high press to immediately win the ball. The Pride then played fast and got into the box but Ubogagu collided with Christina Gibbons, and both stayed down, ending the attack. 

The Pride kept up this intensity and Weatherholt’s hustle created the first goal of the match. She got off her shot, which hit the post, and Marta was there to reap the rewards and put the Pride up 1-0 in the 51st minute. 

The visitors then hit straight back two minutes later. Kennedy collided with Ali Krieger trying to defend in the box, and was extremely slow in getting up. This led to Dorsey being left wide open at the six-yard box, where she had no trouble finding the back of the net. 

“There are things that are out of everybody’s control,” Sermanni said. “But if I go back to the goal, we shouldn’t have been in that position that we were in. We had enough defenders behind the ball, with enough players back there. We should have been organized better. So the fact that Alanna [Kennedy] fell, for me, is a little bit immaterial because the goal came about purely by bad defending.”

Following the goal, Carli Lloyd entered the game and changed the momentum in favor of Sky Blue. Just three minutes after coming on, Lloyd played a perfect ball across the field to find the head of Savannah McCaskill, who used her head to play it back across goal and Shea Groom put it away to give Sky Blue a 2-1 lead. Groom landed awkwardly on the play and had to leave the game after her goal. 

The second that Orlando went down, Sermanni looked to his bench and brought on Alex Morgan and Camila. The Pride then started to get more of an attack going and clearly were searching for two more goals to grab three points. 

They got halfway there in the 73rd minute. Camila dribbled the ball towards the Sky Blue box before being fouled. The referee was about to blow his whistle for a foul when he saw that Weatherholt got on the end of the loose ball and he played advantage. Weatherholt then did the rest and kept on fighting to put the ball in the back of the net and level the game at two each. 

“I’ve said this before but we need 10 Dani Weatherholts on the field,” said Sermanni. “She’s the person that has really dragged our team along in games quite often. Whether that’s been a decisive tackle, a decisive run, a decisive goal, like it was tonight, or whatever, she has just been magnificent this year. I need 10 players doing that and if we had 10 players doing that I think we would be a little bit further up the table.”

The Pride kept on pressing in search of a needed third goal but the visitors would not break until the dying minutes when the game rested on the foot of Marta from the penalty spot. After a corner, the ball was bouncing around in the box and Lloyd was given a straight red for swatting the ball out of the air with her hand on the goal line. Marta, at the spot, in the 97th minute of a tied game sounds like three points in the bag for Orlando. However, her kick was poor and Sheridan was able to make the game-saving stop. 

Marta played extensively for Brazil in the Tournament of Nations and played the entire match. Perhaps a more rested player should have taken the spot kick, but Marta generally comes through.

The Pride finished with 21 shots, but were only able to get eight on target. they led in possession (54%-46%) and total passes (403-362) but need to improve in the final third and stop making defensive mistakes.

“Ultimately, we played well but we need to be more efficient and better in the final third,” Weatherholt said. “I think we had a lot of chances but we didn’t put them away. I think any time you dominate a game and possession and you have the ball a lot in their final third. We were creating, we just didn’t finish and that’s on the whole unit.”

The Pride are back in action next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET against the Portland Thorns in Orlando City Stadium.

Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Anna Moorhouse

The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s first as the Orlando Pride’s starting goalkeeper.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

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.

Statistical Breakdown

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.

Best Game

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.

2024 Outlook

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.

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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.



Image courtesy of the Orlando Pride and FC Honka

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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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Kylie Strom

The veteran defender was a consistent starter for the Pride in 2023.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride signed Kylie Strom from Atletico Madrid on July 5, 2021 to a two-year contract with an option for 2023. Previously, Strom spent time with the Boston Breakers, FFC Frankfurt II in Germany, and Sparta in the Czech Women’s League. The Pride exercised her option prior to the 2023 season. Strom played a much bigger role for the Pride in 2023. 

Let’s take a look at the defender’s 2023 season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Strom appeared in 22 regular-season matches, starting all 22, for a total of 1,967 minutes. She scored one goal on six shots, putting one on target. She provided one assist and made 17 key passes. Strom completed 590 of her 880 total passes (67%). She was accurate on 58.7% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and went 73.8% in her own half. She was 29 of 106 on her long passes (27.4%). She also completed seven of her 36 crosses. Defensively, she logged 34 interceptions and 10 blocks, won 43 of her 81 tackles (53.1%), won 181 of her 291 duels (62.2%), and won 39 of her 64 aerial duels (60.9%). She also committed 18 fouls, suffered 42 fouls, and was not booked.

The 31-year-old made four appearances in NWSL Challenge Cup play, starting four games and playing 314 total minutes. Strom did not score any goals but took two shots with one on target. She attempted three crosses (one successful), and registered no assists. Strom completed 93 of her 134 total passes (69.4%). She was accurate on 61.8% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 75.8% in her own half.  Strom was 11 of 19 on her long passes (57.9%), and made two key passes. Defensively, she made three blocks and eight interceptions, and won eight of her 10 tackles (80%), 29 of her 46 duels (63%), and eight of her 10 aerial duels (80%). She also committed five fouls, suffered five fouls, and was not booked.

Best Game

Strom’s best match was the 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit on May 20. She scored her only goal of the season on a header at the back post in the 77th minute to give the Pride the win. It was the type of goal that you want from defenders and it came at just the right time.

Strom played the full 90 minutes and she was active in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the match. She nearly put Messiah Bright in on goal but it was knocked out for a corner. Her goal came on three shots with one on target. She also completed 15 of her 30 passes (50%) on 52 touches, committed no fouls, suffered three fouls, and was not booked.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Strom a composite rating of 6 for the 2023 season. Strom received a grade of 4.5 in 2022 due to being a part of a defense that gave up 45 goals with a -23 goal differential. That is a big year-over-year improvement for the defender and part of that is the defense as a whole was better. Strom also did well individually though she had a bad habit of cheaply giving the ball away in her own half. She previously received an incomplete during what was a rough stretch run in 2021 after joining the club midseason.

2024 Outlook

Strom is out of contract and will be 32 years old prior to the 2024 season starting. She’s also a free agent. Despite that, it’s very possible she is back with the Pride next season unless additional defensive signings are made. It would mean a new contract, but given she started every regular season match in 2023 and finished second only to Emily Madril in minutes played, Seb Hines evidently has faith in her ability to contribute.

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