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Orlando Pride Media Day Highlights

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We’re just a month out from the Orlando Pride’s 2019 NWSL season opener against the Portland Thorns and the team held its annual preseason Media Day event at Orlando City Stadium. The event featured a press conference with Pride GM Erik Ustruck and Head Coach Marc Skinner, with six players made available to the media in a roundtable format.

The players who spoke to media members today were almost all internationals, with former USWNT automatic selection Ali Krieger being the only player of the six not currently involved in her national team setup. The five current internationals were Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan of the U.S., Alanna Kennedy of Australia, Marta of Brazil, and Chioma Ubogagu, who has recently been getting England call-ups.

The players unanimously lauded the atmosphere, attitude, and attention to detail that Skinner has brought to the Pride this preseason and seemed energized.

Here are the highlights from today’s event.

Ustruck/Skinner Press Conference

  • Skinner said he was “over the moon” at being selected as the Pride’s head coach and said he was “proud and privileged to be here.”
  • Initial interviews with players are nearly complete, as Skinner is finally getting to sit down with the international players who were late to arrive.
  • The buzz around camp, according to Skinner, is “really, really something that energizes you as a person.”
  • Skinner said he’s identified his targets and what his ideal team would look like, however, he said he’s still identifying the abilities of his players and giving players an opportunity to show what they can do.
  • Although Skinner said Tom Sermanni is a wonderful person and is sure he’ll do well at New Zealand, he’s here to bring a new direction to the club and said he coaches to allow his players to make decisions on the field because they have to know what they’re doing even when they can’t hear the coach in hostile environments.
  • Skinner spoke often of getting to know the players’ character, as well as treating the players as people first, and players second, regardless of whether they’re stars. He said he thinks of the players as he would if they were his daughters, and works with them to make them as successful as possible.
  • Ustruck said he hasn’t yet spoken with club partner Wolfsburg on the women’s side. He said he’d like the Pride to explore options such as bringing them over during their preseason period or to look at potential player loan opportunities.
  • Skinner, who has watched all of last year’s games, said the team was far off from performances last season but not far off in results. He stressed that there is some time involved in getting the team to play the way he wants it to play and that it might seem a bit high risk at first.
  • Both Skinner and Ustruck said the team will play an attractive brand of football and the GM said he expects that will help bring more fans to the stadium.
  • Skinner said the athleticism in the NWSL is massive but the transition part of the game could be better. “We have to re-educate players or just switch on their senses to do that. That’s what we’ll be doing in training.”
  • “I’m 100 percent sure that our players will love how we’re asking them to play,” Skinner said. “But they have to be brave. If you want to do something different and you want success to come to Orlando then they’re going to have to be brave. And that’s how I will expect them to be. My job is to support them through that process.”
  • Skinner said he’s not just here to coach players to win, but to improve as players.
  • The idea of having North Carolina (on the preseason schedule) was to get the Pride up to speed in playing an NWSL team, said Skinner.
  • “We will play fixtures that will challenge the players in different ways,” Skinner said of the preseason schedule. Ustruck said the full preseason schedule will be out in the next few days.
  • Ustruck mentioned that the North Carolina game in preseason would give the club an opportunity to learn how far they still need to go to get to the level of the defending champs.
  • Ustruck said the idea of a preseason invitational tournament would be difficult due to the MLS side having started its season but it’s something the club might look into if they can find the right location or if the stadium was available.
  • Skinner said his team likes to play tactically and force the other team into playing a way in which is to Orlando’s advantage.
  • Ustruck said Camila is still in Brazil because she’s working on getting her green card. Her interview was scheduled for today and she’s expected back by the weekend.
  • There will be a recognized Orlando Pride supporters group this year, said Ustruck. He said he wasn’t at liberty to speak about it just yet, however.
  • “There needs to be patience for this team to understand what we want them to do,” Skinner said. He added that he’s seen a desire from the players to buy into that.

Ashlyn Harris

  • “I have to say that I’ve been blown away by Marc,” Harris said about her new coach. “I’m very, very impressed with what he has brought just in the short amount of time that I’ve met him.”
  • Harris said the spark and enjoyment are back at training this preseason. “It’s like a breath of fresh air. This is a chance for people to start over and have new energy and a new opportunity.”
  • Harris said Skinner demands excellence and is detail-oriented. “He’s very organized and very, very specific about things.”
  • Harris said the international players are used to being in and out of the lineup but admitted this year would be challenging due to the time demands of the World Cup.
  • Last year is in the past for Harris and she wants to focus all her energy on 2019 and not what didn’t work in 2018. “We have a fresh start and I want to enjoy that taste in my mouth.”
  • “Marc is going to bring an element to this organization that people are going to be proud of and I’m excited to be on that train,” Harris said.
  • Harris said that Skinner sent her video clips from every touch from every game with notes attached, he has drones flying overhead every practice to record the players, and he frequently texts with thoughts as they occur.
  • Harris said that the feeling of unity hasn’t quite been there the last few years but that’s what Skinner is restoring in Orlando.

Ali Krieger

  • Krieger said that players can only change the culture of a team by bringing their best and control their work ethic and attitude each day.
  • “I think it’s so great to have somebody come in that makes every player feel like they’re the most important player,” Krieger said of Skinner. “I think that if we continue to create that positive atmosphere that will translate for sure on the field.”
  • Krieger said last year the team played more individually than as a collective group and expects the opposite this year.
  • Skinner creates an atmosphere where everybody feels important, said the veteran defender.
  • “Little specific movements, footwork stuff, the way your body is angled, or the pace of your pass,” – Krieger on the details that Skinner notices and brings to the team.
  • Skinner is “bringing the fun back into the game.”
  • Krieger reiterated Skinner’s statements in the presser about treating each person individually based on their needs.
  • “I don’t mind playing the underdog role,” she said. “If people think they’re going to come in here and it’s going to be easy-breezy, then good on them because we’re going to just crush it.”
  • Having a new coach will be an advantage for the Pride because no one in the league is going to know what to expect from Orlando.

Marta

  • “I like it here,” the Brazilian legend said. “I like the club. I like the atmosphere we have here. I like the city, the players. I think we have so much potential to [have] a very good season.”
  • Marta said her first impression of Skinner was good. “I see the energy he brings to the training and the ideas he brings to the players [are] good.”
  • Sermanni and Skinner are different. Skinner wants to keep the ball more and having the ball more means more opportunities to score.
  • “It’s about how we work together when we have the ball and when we don’t have the ball,” Marta said of the team’s philosophy.
  • Marta said players have to play hard and do their best for their club or they risk not being ready when called up to the national team. So there is no benefit in taking things easy with the club side to stay healthy for the World Cup.
  • When asked if she would continue to play internationally after this World Cup, Marta responded, “Let’s live day after day, you know?” She said if she feels good with her club and her teammates she can continue to do so with Brazil, too.
  • Marta said she was a little sad to see Monica and Poliana leave the club and hopes that they find a good new club to play for because that’s also important for the Brazilian national team.
  • When asked if she had any goals for the season, Marta replied, “Make more goals!”
  • Marta said Skinner’s system allows the freedom to roam and feel the game, so that she can play as both a midfielder and a forward, moving to spaces wherever she’s needed. “Not whatever I want,” she laughed, “but to produce good for the team.”

Alex Morgan

  • “I’m just eager to be coached by [Skinner], and for him to just implement his style, and for us to apply that in games,” Morgan said.
  • Morgan said she was happy with Ustruck’s decision to bring in Skinner to take the job.
  • “In previous years, just playing college teams is really difficult because that’s a hard gauge to see on like where we are in terms of how ready we are for the season,” Morgan said of the preseason. “So going in and playing North Carolina, obviously having them be the reigning champions from last year, it’s going to be just right away we’ll know what we still need to work on, where we are in terms of fitness, and in terms of Marc’s style being adapted by the team. So I’m really happy we’re making this trip.”
  • The team not having a lot of turnover is a good thing, Morgan said.
  • Morgan said the challenge for the Pride is the number of international players leaving for a big chunk of the season.
  • Younger players can learn from the internationals’ professionalism and they have to be eager to learn.
  • Morgan lauded France’s acceptance of women in sport as “exciting to see” and was glad to see the number of tickets sold for the World Cup games.
  • “I’m hopeful that we look very organized and have clear direction,” she said.
  • Morgan said she was impressed with Ustruck and his ability to bring in someone like Skinner.
  • She said she feels there’s still room for her to learn and grow as a player and she’s looking forward to Skinner helping her do that.

Alanna Kennedy

  • “I really like his direction and his philosophy,” Kennedy said of Skinner. “It’s something that’ll make all of us better, hopefully, as a collective.”
  • Kennedy talked about having surgery “thrown in there” during a six-week break. She said she’d played about 80 games in the previous 12 to 18 months. She said she’s now feeling good and is excited to be back in Orlando.
  • “When you’re in a positive environment, your well-being is taken care of, that’s when you’re able to thrive on the field,” she said. “I’ve loved every minute of the couple days I’ve been here.”
  • Kennedy said she thinks that with the style of play Skinner will have, she’ll be able to play both midfield and defense. She said she loves her midfield role but also loves her role on defense with Australia, because that’s where the team needs her and she can thrive there.
  • Kennedy noted the team has always had the personnel to succeed but needed to have more of an identity.
  • “To know your role and to know what’s expected of you every minute is important and that’s something Marc will bring with his experience and his personality,” she said.
  • “You don’t really” get used to all the international travel, Kennedy said. But she added that it’s helpful when you have people in place to take care of you, as the Pride have.

Chioma Ubogagu

  • When asked what kind of Chioma Ubogagu the Pride are getting back, as opposed to the one who left to go play in Australia at the start of the off-season, she replied, “I think just someone who understands even more now the definition of being a professional.”
  • She said she learned more about recovery, watching film, and working on details while playing in Australia.
  • Ubogagu said that coming in from overseas, she was expected to be an impact player in the W-League, and that challenged her and she learned how to deal with pressure.
  • Having three nationalities — English, American, and Nigerian — she said all three are very important to her and she feels connected to all three and they combine equally to make her who she is.
  • “That experience to put on the England kit and represent the Lionesses is something I’ll never forget,” she said of her time with the England national team.
  • Ubogagu said she got the call on her birthday that she’d be getting her first call-up to England and it was the best birthday gift ever.
  • She said her national team coach, Phil Neville, texts the whole team and he told her to train hard this preseason.
  • Ubogagu said she met with Skinner yesterday. She said he’s very intelligent and noted that he showed her an iPad with screen shots and detailed notes on it.
  • “I think everyone has been really impressed with training sessions and the detail and energy,” she said “[Skinner is] always saying ‘brains over brawn.’ He wants us to make sophisticated decisions with the ball.”
  • “I don’t want to label myself a leader because I think I’m learning every day,” she said.
  • “Last year, if we’re going to be frank [the North Carolina Courage] killed everyone in the league. They scored the most goals. I think they had the fewest goals against. They had this confidence, this swagger on the field that you weren’t going to touch them when you’re on the field,” Ubogagu said. “So I think that’s awesome that one of our first preseason games is going against the defending champions. We’re going to see what we’re about early on in the preseason. It’ll be really cool to see how we adapt and how we come out against a team like that.”
  • Ubogagu said she wanted to help with the game so she became the players union representative for the Pride. She said her main job was to bring information back to the club so the players had a voice on things like, for example, when the league would break for the World Cup.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/20/24

Lions and Pride win, MLS weekend recap, Manchester City wins Premier League title, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. It was another good weekend for our teams, as Orlando City and the Pride both won their respective matches. I’ve been busy covering high school playoff action with soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Pull Out Late Win on the Road

Orlando City pulled out a late 1-0 win on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park on Saturday. Jack Lynn came off the bench and scored the lone goal in this match for Orlando to grab the three points. Duncan McGuire started the match but had to be substituted out early in the first half due to injury and was replaced by Lynn. The Lions are on a three-match unbeaten streak after a scoreless draw at home against Inter Miami on Wednesday. Orlando City moves up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with 16 points. The Lions return to action on Saturday to face the Columbus Crew at Inter&Co Stadium.

Orlando Pride Win Against Seattle Reign FC

The Orlando Pride won their seventh straight match after a 3-2 win against the Seattle Reign at Lumen Field on Sunday. There were plenty of goals in this one, with Barbra Banda lifting the Pride to their first ever win in Washington against the Reign. Orlando remains undefeated in league play after 10 matches and the Pride sit atop the NWSL table with 24 points. The Pride return home for a Friday night matchup against the Portland Thorns at Inter&Co Stadium.

MLS Weekend Recap

It was another busy weekend in MLS, with four rivalry matches taking place. Let’s start with the Hudson River Derby, as New York City FC edged past the New York Red Bulls 2-1. Real Salt Lake got a thrilling 5-3 win against the Colorado Rapids in the Rocky Mountain Cup. In Canada, Toronto FC cruised past CF Montreal with a 5-1 victory. The Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas battled to a 1-1 draw down in Texas. FC Cincinnati defeated St. Louis City SC 3-1, while the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-1 as well.

The Philadelphia Union shut out the New England Revolution 3-0 to snap its six-match winless streak. Austin FC won 3-2 over Sporting Kansas City, Minnesota United handed the Portland Timbers a 2-1 defeat, and Inter Miami got a late goal from Leonardo Campana for a 1-0 win over D.C. United.

Manchester City Wins English Premier League

Manchester City defeated West Ham 3-1 to win a historic fourth consecutive Premier League title on Sunday with 91 points on the final day of the season. Phil Foden scored twice in this match as Manchester City became the first club to win four straight Premier League trophies. Arsenal defeated Everton 2-1 but ended up short of the title, finishing second with 89 points. Liverpool won in Jurgen Klopp’s final match as manager, beating Wolves 2-0 to finish third. Aston Villa finished fourth despite a 5-0 loss to Crystal Palace, Tottenham finished fifth, and Chelsea finished sixth in the table. Luton Town lost 4-2 at home to Fulham to finish 18th, officially joining Burnley and Sheffield United in being relegated to the EFL Championship next season. 

Free Kicks

  • Former Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has agreed to a one-year contract extension with Manchester United, with an option for another year. Manchester United won its first major trophy earlier this month, winning the Women’s FA Cup.
  • Former USMNT player Jonathan Bornstein has agreed to play for NPSL side Tallahassee SC in their summer season. He made his debut on Saturday as the Battle Lions won their opener 2-0 against the Miami Dutch Lions FC.
  • According to Tom Bogert, new MLS expansion side San Diego FC is reportedly closer to sealing a move to sign Chucky Lozano over from PSV Eindhoven.
  • Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi announced he will leave the club after its Premier League season ended in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United on Sunday. 
  • Bayer Leverkusen completed its Bundesliga season unbeaten with a 2-1 win over FC Augsburg. The club also made history as the first team in the history of the Bundesliga to complete a full season without a loss. 

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando Pride vs. Seattle Reign FC: Final Score 3-2 as Pride Rebound in Second Half for Seventh Straight Win

The Pride outlast Seattle Reign FC 3-2 for their seventh consecutive win.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (7-0-3, 24 points) continued their undefeated season with a 3-2 win today against Seattle Reign FC (2-7-1, 7 points). The Pride took an early 2-0 lead with goals by Emily Sams and Barbra Banda, but the hosts came back with goals from Angharad James-Turner and Bethany Balcer. Banda’s second of the day in the 58th minute proved to be the difference as the Pride won yet again.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes to the lineup that beat Bay FC 1-0 last Saturday. Ally Lemos and Marta entered the lineup, replacing Morgan Gautrat and Julie Doyle. While Doyle started the game on the bench, Gautrat wasn’t in the team. The back line in front of Anna Moorhouse was Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, and Sams. Haley McCutcheon and Lemos were in the defensive midfield behind Summer Yates, Marta, and Adriana, with Banda up top.

It looked like the Pride would run away with this one when they took a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes and appeared to have scored a third. However, the Reign didn’t give up and scored on either side of halftime to make it 2-2. Unlike previous years, the Pride didn’t fall apart after losing the lead and found a winner from their star striker. It was another one-goal affair — their sixth in seven wins — in which the Pride had to hold on for dear life as they attempted to see out the victory.

The Reign got off to the more aggressive start, creating two chances inside the first three minutes. In the second minute, Tziarra King blocked a clearance attempt and it went to Jess Fishlock. The midfielder played the ball across to former Pride midfielder James-Turner, who shot on goal. It was heading inside the post, but Moorhouse did well to get down and collect it.

A minute later, Ji So-Yun sent an aerial ball across the field for Balcer, who quickly played it wide for Sofia Huerta. The right back found Fishlock in the box and the Welsh international attempted a first-touch shot, but she couldn’t get solid contact, sending the ball well off target.

The Pride got their first chance of the game in the seventh minute when Reign goalkeeper Laurel Ivory got a little too cute with the ball. Attempting to dribble around pressure, her clearance was blocked, ending up at the feet of Banda. The Pride’s leading scorer’s first touch was a shot, but she sent the attempt over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, the Pride grabbed the lead. It started with a long ball down the right for Marta. The Pride captain sent it to the top of the box where Yates brought it down, but a defender got a foot to it. Fortunately, it went right to Sams, whose first touch was a shot inside the post to give the Pride an early 1-0 lead.

“I just wanted to support the play,” Sams said about her goal. “And it just happened to fall to me and I just took my chance and I scored.”

Since Sams played primarily as a center back last season, she hasn’t had many opportunities to score. However, Hines has deployed her as a right back this year and, as a result, she scored her first NWSL goal in this game.

“She finished it like a forward as some would say,” Hines said about the defender scoring her first goal. “Em has done brilliant in having to shift into a new position and she’s embraced it. I think sort of her one-v-one defending’s been brilliant recently and so she gets her reward for going up and supporting the attack and it’s a lovely finish with her left foot. So yeah, it was a great goal from Em. And if she continues to play that position at right back, maybe there’s a few more down the stretch of the season.”

The Pride’s attacking Brazilians tried to combine for a chance in the 13th minute when Adriana sent a cross into the box for Marta. She got her head to the ball and tried to redirect it on goal, but wasn’t in front of the net at the time. As a result, the header went wide.

The Pride doubled their lead in the 18th minute when a poor clearance was intercepted and sent forward for Adriana. The playmaker used some fancy footwork to create space for a cross, sending it across the face of the goal. Ivory could only get her fingers to it as the ball got past her. Banda was left wide open near the back post and simply headed the ball in to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

In the 25th minute, King tried to catch Moorhouse by surprise after receiving the ball from Balcer. The attacker took a shot from distance, but Moorhouse was able to block it to her side. It was a good stop as the shot was taken from the shadows and into the sunlight.

Balcer had a great chance for herself in the 26th minute when King found her on the far side. The forward outmuscled Abello to get in on goal, but Moorhouse came out strong. Balcer got a shot off, but right into Moorhouse. The attempt bounced off Balcer and out for a goal kick, ending the threat.

The Pride put a third ball in the net in the 31st minute when Marta sent a long ball across the field for Yates. The midfielder took on Lauren Barnes, beating the defender. However, Barnes left a foot out, tripping Yates and giving the Pride a free kick.

The ensuing set piece was sent into the Reign box where Banda got a slight touch to it, but not enough to send it on goal. Instead, it popped up for Strom to get her head on it and give the Pride a 3-0 lead.

Before the game could restart, the video assistant referee called down for referee Elijio Arreguin to take a closer look. After further review, Arreguin determined that Banda was offside on the initial ball as she attempted to get behind the back line, disallowing the goal and keeping the game 2-0.

Moorhouse was forced into another save in the 36th minute when the ball was tipped off of Ji’s foot. It went directly to Fishlock well outside of the box and the midfielder took a long attempt at goal. The shot appeared hard to see, but the Pride goalkeeper tipped it over the crossbar for a corner kick.

The ensuing set piece was cleared out but only to James-Turner, whose shot was aiming for the top corner. Moorhouse wasn’t going to get to the attempt, but it was just over the target.

In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, King attempted a shot from inside the Pride box that was blocked by Rafaelle. The Reign retained possession and a long ball was sent into the box for Balcer. However, it was too far for the forward, who pushed Sams into Moorhouse and was booked.

It looked like Adriana would have a chance to get on the scoresheet a minute later when she received the ball in the box from Banda. The Brazilian attempted to cut back and lose Huerta, going down in the process. There was some contact, but the referee determined it wasn’t enough and the Reign were able to clear.

During the final minute of stoppage time, the hosts got a goal back. Ji sent a pass to the top of the box, where James-Turner met it. The midfielder took a shot that likely would’ve been saved by Moorhouse, but it deflected off Strom and went into the corner of the goal, cutting the Pride lead to 2-1.

That was the final attack of the half. After 45 minutes, the Reign had more possession (54%-46%), shots (8-4), shots on target (6-2), corner kicks (2-1), and better passing accuracy (82%-80%). But the two goals and some good goalkeeping by Moorhouse had the Pride leading at the break.

“Just get closer to our opponent. I think we gave them a little bit too much space. And then tactically, offensively, he told us to do a better job of finding Barbara on the front line,” Sams said about Hines’ halftime instructions. “And I think if we’re able to keep the ball more, we don’t really have to worry about the defending side so much if we can keep it and keep adding goals. So that was kind of the halftime talk.”

Hines made one halftime change, replacing Yates with Doyle.

The goal just before halftime seemed to spark the hosts as they began the second half on the attack. In the 46th minute, King received the ball on the left, shielded her defender, and attempted to send the ball across the face of the goal. However, Moorhouse was able to block it away. The Pride were unable to clear the ball and Ji gained possession. The South Korean shot from distance, but it was off target.

A minute later, the Reign found the equalizer. It started in the Pride box when halftime substitute Shae Holmes won the ball from Banda and sent it forward. Two passes later, Fishlock sent a long ball to Balcer behind the Pride’s back line. The forward lifted the ball over Moorhouse to even the game at 2-2.

The hosts continued their attack and created another shot in the 51st minute. It was Ji again creating space and attempting a shot from long range. However, it was blocked and the Pride gained possession before it got close to Moorhouse.

The Pride created their first good chance of the second half in the 54th minute when Olivia Van der Jagt fouled Marta. The Pride captain took the set piece, sending a dangerous ball into the box. It somehow went through several players before going out for a goal kick.

In the 57th minute, King knocked the ball out of play while trying to shield it from Lemos. The Pride rookie took the set piece, which was punched out wide by Ivory. It went right back to Lemos, who sent in a shot that went over the arm of Ivory and off the crossbar. The ball was sent out of play by a Reign defender and the Pride had a corner kick on the other side.

The second corner kick was taken by Marta and headed through by Alana Cook. However, it didn’t get very far, enabling Banda to get her foot on the ball. The defense gave the star striker too much space and Banda turned to score her second goal of the game and taking back the lead for the Pride.

The Pride nearly doubled their lead in the 62nd minute through their captain. Banda made a good run down the right, beating her defender and sent a cross into the box. It was a little behind Marta, but she was able to get her foot around the ball and put it on target. Ivory made an excellent save with her foot to keep it out of the net and her team’s deficit at one goal.

Hines made his second change in the 63rd minute and it was a defensive one, as Cori Dyke came in for Adriana.

In the 73rd minute, Lemos committed an unnecessary foul on Phoebe McClernon, giving the Reign a free kick in a dangerous position. Ji played it short for Huerta, who sent the ball towards the far post. It looked like the ball was going out of play, but stayed in. It resulted in a shot that was blocked and the Pride were able to clear.

A Pride throw-in in the 75th minute resulted in an interesting situation as Abello sent Banda down the left. Cook was unable to keep up with the striker, but pulled her back and then put her studs into Banda’s stomach. Banda required medical attention, but was able to continue. While the play was checked for a possible red card, it wasn’t given.

When Banda got up, Hines made two more changes. Brianna Martinez and Ally Watt came into the game for Marta and Lemos.

After being booked late in the first half, Balcer received her second yellow card in the 83rd minute. Upset with a foul call, she approached the referee while her team made a substitution. Arreguin clearly wasn’t happy with what she said, giving her a second yellow card and a subsequent red card. As a result, the Reign had to finish the game with 10 players.

The Pride had chances to take advantage of the player advantage. In the 88th minute, they had a three-on-three, but Abello lost control before she could play one of her teammates on either side of her. In the 90th minute, Banda made a strong run and had Watt to her right. Unfortunately, the pass was too soft and the Pride lost possession.

The Pride made their final change after the missed opportunity as Amanda Allen entered the game for Banda.

The Pride did well defensively to limit opportunities, but the Reign had a good chance in the seventh minute of stoppage time. A long ball into the box by Cook was headed out by Sams, but only to Emeri Adames. The substitute had plenty of space to shoot from just outside of the box, sending the attempt over the target.

That was the last chance for either team as the Pride held on for their seventh straight win and their first in Seattle. At full time, the Reign had more possession (52%-48%), shots (15-8), shots on target (10-6), and better passing accuracy (81%-80%). The Pride had more corner kicks (4-2), crosses (18-14), and most importantly, outscored the Reign 3-2.

“I thought the first 43 minutes of the game, we were really good. I thought we played some terrific football, playing between the lines, caused a lot of problems, and to concede so late on in the first half is something that we need to reflect and review moving forward,” Hines said about the game. “And then the second half, I mean it was a grind. It was great determination. Going through that adversity as well. conceding so early on in the second half, to come back and get that third goal was really important for us.”

“I think the first half was definitely the better half. I think we did well, got those two goals, but letting in the goal at the very end, I think kind of gave them some momentum,” Sams added about the performance. “And then I think the second half we kind of let our standards drop and we had to fight for that win. We got the win and that’s amazing, shows our character. So obviously we’re satisfied with that.”

The win extends the Pride’s winning streak to seven games, the most in team history and ties the league record held by, coincidentally, the Seattle Reign in 2014. Their unbeaten run extends to 10 games and they move into sole possession of first place after the Kansas City Current drew yesterday.

“It’s a great feeling to have that record and it just shows the world how strong we are,” Rafaelle said about the seven straight wins. “A lot of people doubt us in the beginning of the season. Now, we’re proving that we’re a good team and we have a good chance to win the shield, but also we want to break the record. We’re gonna play at home next game. We’re gonna try everything to win that game and break the record.”

Additionally, this is the first time that Pride have ever won a game in Seattle. The two teams have now faced off nine times in the Emerald City and the Pride are 1-5-3 all-time. It’s another first in what is quickly becoming the best season in team history.


The Pride will look to break the NWSL record for consecutive wins, remain unbeaten, and stay in first place Friday night when they host the Portland Thorns.

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Orlando Pride

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

The Pride look to extend their unbeaten run and winning streak as they travel to face Seattle Reign FC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (6-0-3, 21 points) take on Seattle Reign FC (2-6-1, 7 points) in the Pacific Northwest. This is the first of two games the Pride and Reign are scheduled to play during the 2024 NWSL regular season. They’ll finish the season against each other in Orlando on Nov. 2.

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

History

The Pride and Reign have met 16 times since the Pride joined the league in 2016. The Pride hold a 2-7-7 record in those meetings and have yet to beat tonight’s opponent away from home, with an all-time record of 0-5-3 out west against the Reign.

The most recent meeting was on Sept. 3 at Lumen Field in Seattle. The Pride got off to a terrible start when Anna Moorhouse was sent off in the third minute. Carly Nelson came in and did well, but Jordyn Huitema scored in the 49th minute as the Reign won 1-0.  The game on July 7 at Exploria Stadium featured one of the best performances of the year for the Pride, as they had more shots and shots on target than the opposition. Julie Doyle beat her defenders and found the head of Messiah Bright in the 16th minute for the game’s lone goal as the Pride won 1-0 for their second all-time win over the Reign.

The teams played for the first time last season on Aug. 26 in Orlando. Meggie Dougherty Howard gave the hosts the lead, and the Pride tried to hold onto that one-goal advantage, but Megan Rapinoe found Bethany Balcer for an equalizing header. The visitors pushed for a win and Rapinoe got a goal for herself two minutes into second half injury time, lifting the Reign to a 2-1 win, snapping Orlando’s seven-match unbeaten run.

The return game was on Oct. 1, 2022 at Lumen Field in Seattle. The Pride had already been eliminated from playoff contention and it looked like it as OL Reign dominated the game. Rapinoe opened the scoring just eight minutes in, Huitema doubled the hosts’ lead soon after, and Balcer made it 3-0 after 31 minutes. The Pride held the Reign scoreless in the second half, but fell 3-0.

The teams played twice during the 2021 season and the first game was on July 24 in Orlando. The Reign scored a goal in each half, with Jess Fishlock scoring early and Tziarra King doubling the lead just after the break on the way to a 2-0 win. On Sept. 26 in Tacoma, WA, Balcer opened the scoring in the third minute and Eugenie Le Sommer scored a brace, giving the Reign a 3-0 lead at halftime, ultimately beating the Pride by that score.

COVID canceled the teams’ meetings in 2020, but they played three times in 2019. On April 21 in Tacoma, Alanna Kennedy gave the Pride an early lead. But Balcer equalized and the teams drew 1-1. They met again on Sept. 7 in the same location. This time, the Reign took the early lead as Darian Jenkins scored twice inside the first 12 minutes. Beverly Yanez made it 3-0 soon after, effectively putting the game away early. Camila converted a late penalty but the Reign won 3-1. The final meeting that year came on Oct. 12 in Orlando. The Pride scored first through Rachel Hill, but Jenkins and Jodie Taylor gave the visitors a 2-1 lead going into halftime. Marta equalized late and the teams drew 2-2.

The first meeting in 2018 came on April 28 in Orlando. Allie Long gave the Reign a first-half lead, but Marta equalized, resulting in a 1-1 draw. On June 3, the teams met in Seattle but neither team could find the back of the net as they ended in a scoreless draw. The final meeting that year was on July 21 in Orlando. Toni Pressley gave the Pride a first-half lead but Taylor equalized with 20 minutes remaining and the teams drew for the third time that year.

The 2017 season saw the Pride and Reign play twice, first meeting on May 21 in Seattle. Yanez gave the hosts the lead just before halftime but Marta scored just after the break and the teams drew 1-1. They met again on Sept. 7 in Orlando in a game that looked to be ending scoreless but took a surprising turn. Alex Morgan gave the Pride the late lead in second-half injury time, but Fishlock equalized two minutes later and they drew 1-1.

The first-ever meeting between the two teams occurred on May 8, 2016 in Orlando. Sarah Hagen gave the Pride an early lead and Lianne Sanderson made it 2-0 late, which was the final score. The return game in Seattle was on July 23 and was the highest-scoring game between the two teams. Kim Little and Fishlock made it 2-0 Reign at halftime. Manon Melis scored a third for the hosts. Jasmyne Spencer scored, but Kendall Fletcher made it 4-1 four minutes later. A Pressley own goal and late strike by Kristen Edmonds added one more goal to each team’s tally in a 5-2 Reign win.

Overview

The Pride are off to unquestionably the best start in team history. After drawing their first three games, they’ve gone on a team record six-game winning streak. Five of those six wins have been decided by one goal and four have been 1-0 results. They capped off their sixth win last Saturday night, defeating Bay FC 1-0 through an Adriana penalty.

While the Pride were playing well already, Barbra Banda has been everything the Pride hoped for when they agreed to the second-highest transfer fee in NWSL history to bring in the Zambian international. She scored four goals in her first three starts and has drawn two penalties. She didn’t score against Bay FC, but drew the penalty that resulted in Adriana’s goal.

The Pride have also been exceptional defensively, conceding seven goals in nine games. Only NJ/NY Gotham FC is the one team to concede fewer goals than the Pride, giving up six in their first eight games this year.

The Reign are off to a poor start this season, claiming seven points from their first nine games. They currently sit in 13th in the 14-team league, only ahead of the Utah Royals. Tonight’s opponent has struggled offensively and defensively this season. Their seven goals scored this year is third least and one more than Gotham and Utah. Meanwhile, they’ve conceded 14 goals, fourth most in the league. As a result, they’ve had trouble coming away with results in the early part of the season.

Bethany Balcer has led the Reign in goals this season, scoring three so far. Only three other players have scored and all once. The other goals have come from Ji So-Yun, King, and the Reign’s leading goal scorer last season, Veronica Latsko. Three of the team’s goals have been assisted, two coming from So-Yun and one from Fishlock.

“They’re a good team. They’ve got an experienced coach there as well who has won a lot in this league,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “And so we have to be mindful of Seattle and what they can create and it’s going to be a challenging game for us because our record is not great away at Seattle. So that’s something that we want to improve and continue this momentum that we’ve showed early on in the season.”

The Pride will play tonight without Angelina (knee), Celia (hip), Simone Charley (right leg), Luana (illness), Megan Montefusco (right heel), and Viviana Villacorta (left knee). Additionally, Mariana Larroquette (lower leg) is listed as questionable. Meanwhile, the Reign will be without Claudia Dickey (knee), Jordyn Huitema (back), and Quinn (knee).


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Sams.

Defensive Midfielders: Haley McCutcheon, Ally Lemos.

Midfielders: Summer Yates, Marta, Adriana.

Forward: Barbra Banda.

Bench: McKinley Crone, Ally Watt, Julie Doyle, Evelina Duljan, Amanda Allen, Alex Kerr, Carrie Lawrence, Brianna Martinez, Cori Dyke.

Seattle Reign FC (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Laurel Ivory.

Defenders: Alana Cook, Lauren Barnes, Phoebe McClernon, Sofia Huerta.

Midfielders: Angharad James-Turner, Ji So-Yun, Jess Fishlock, Olivia Van der Jagt.

Forwards: Bethany Balcer, Tziarra King.

Bench: Maia Perez, Ryanne Brown, Lily Woodham, Shae Holmes, Nikki Stanton, Olivia Athens, Veronica Latsko, Emeri Adames, McKenzie Weinert.

Referees

REF: Elijio Arreguin.

AR1: Seth Martin.

AR2: Salma Perez.

4TH: Iryna Petrunok.

VAR: Shawn Tehini.

AVAR: Kaili Terry.


How to Watch

Match Time: 6 p.m.

Venue: Lumen Field — Seattle, WA.

TV: Bally Sports Florida.

Streaming: NWSL+.

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


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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