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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.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Final score 0-0 as the Pride Remain Unbeaten

The Orlando Pride remain undefeated after taking a road point against the North Carolina Courage.

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Photo Courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

It wasn’t the result that the Orlando Pride wanted, but the team remains unbeaten in 2024 after a 0-0 draw against the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park. Orlando (8-0-5, 29 points) had plenty of chances but was unable to score a goal for the first time this season. The Pride were the first team this year to take any points away on the road against North Carolina (5-7-1, 16 points), which is now 5-0-1 at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2024.

The Pride had an opportunity to go top of the table as the Kansas City Current drew the Chicago Red Stars Friday, but the 0-0 draw wasn’t enough to do so. This was first time the Pride were shut out since September 9, 2023 on the road against OL Reign. Halfway through this season, the Pride are only two points shy of their point total from 2023.

“The positives are, you know, a point on the road, (which) it’s probably something we would have taken before the game,” Hines said. “No other team has done that against North Carolina. Clean sheet as well. It’s really important that we get that going as well. But, I think after the game it’s a bittersweet taste in our mouths because we thought that we played really well.”

Brianna Martinez echoed Hines’ comments.

“We’re proud to be the first team to kind of give them a tough game at home but also disappointed, because I think we know we could have beat them and walked away with three (points),” the defender said. “Our effort was there, just technically it could have been a little bit better if we kept the ball.”

Hines did not have a full-strength squad for the match, with starters Rafaelle and Morgan Gautrat out with injuries. Anna Moorhouse started in goal behind a back line of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Brianna Martinez. The midfield in the 4-4-2 consisted of Adriana, Julie Doyle, Summer Yates, and Haley McCutcheon, with Barbra Banda and Marta up top.

After the start of the game was delayed due to field conditions, the Pride didn’t wait very long to get into the attack with a takeaway in the first minute, moving the ball up to Banda into the box, but she lost possession. The Pride got their first chance in the fourth minute as the ball was worked up the left side to Banda, who crossed it in to Marta , but the shot went right into the arms of Courage keeper Casey Murphy.

The Pride’s second shot on goal came in the seventh minute on a break that saw Banda once again cross the ball — this time to Doyle — who also sent it right at Murphy.

In the 14th minute, Yates tried to make her way into the box where she was stood up. The ball popped out to Banda, who took a shot from outside the box, but it went wide right of goal.

Doyle earned a free kick in the 15th minute, but the attempt went to Murphy again. In the 17th minute, the Pride had another free kick resulting in a corner kick. Unfortunately, Yates sent the ball over the goal and out for a goal kick.

The Courage were able to get some possession, including a ball into the box, but the Pride defense was able to clear. In the 26th minute, Martinez made a good interception but slipped, allowing the Courage to get a half chance off that was easily saved by Moorhouse.

In the 29th minute, Marta took a long-distance shot that sailed over the goal. The Pride followed that up a minute later with another shot that bounced back to Adriana, who headed it right to Murphy. In the 32nd minute, Adriana made her way into the box and crossed for Marta on the back post, but her header went wide left.

The Courage got their first good chance in the 33rd minute when Ashley Sanchez beat Martinez to the ball in the box, but Moorhouse did well to come out, get big, and make the save. The resulting corner kick was headed out by the Courage for a goal kick.

The Courage got behind the Pride defense in the 38th minute. Sanchez took a shot at the top of the box, but it sailed high. One minute later, Narumi Miura took a long-distance shot that went left of goal.

In the 42nd minute, Marta took another shot on goal from outside the box, but again it went right to Murphy. After that, both teams saw out the half with no stoppage time given.

North Carolina held the halftime edge in possession (54%-46%), shots (7-6), and passing accuracy (83%-80%). Despite one fewer shot, the Pride had more shots on target (3-2), with the corners being equal (1-1).

The Courage came out on the front foot to start the second half, but it was the Pride that got the first shot. Once again, Banda muscled her way into the box, but she was unable to get the shot off. The ball bounced out to Marta at the top of the box, but her shot went wide right.

In the 48th minute, Banda again made her way forward, this time earning a free kick when she was fouled from behind. The kick went into the wall and then out for a corner kick. Unfortunately, there was a foul in the box on the set piece and the opportunity went to waste.

The Courage had a few opportunities in the 55th minute, but nothing on goal. In the 58th minute, Moorhouse came out to make a sliding save where a Courage player rammed her. There was no foul called on the play, and the Courage continued the attack. Fortunately, Sams and the rest of the defense kept the Courage out of goal. After some attention from the trainers, Moorhouse continued.

In the 67th minute, Abello earned a corner that was taken by Marta, but nothing came of it. Two minutes later, Doyle made her way into the box and crossed to Adriana, but her shot didn’t have much on it and was handled easily by Murphy.

In the 72nd minute Adriana took a shot that deflected off the defense and out for a corner. The resulting corner kick was cleared. Two minutes later, Hines makes his first substitutions, including Angelina returning from injury.

“I just want to thank the staff and my teammates. They were there for me the whole way,” Angelina said. “It was like five weeks to get back on the field. I just feel great (and) they gave me great support through my injury.”

In the 77th minute, McCutcheon committed a foul resulting in a free kick for Carolina. Moorhouse punched the ball out. The Courage continued to create trouble in the Pride’s area, but were unable to convert.

Banda took another shot in the 80th minute, but it went wide right. Five minutes later she sent a cross to Adriana, but the Brazilian’s shot was blocked. The resulting corner amounted to nothing, despite a few shot attempts. Banda made another run in the 88th minute, but her shot attempt went high. She was subbed out in the 89th minute for Amanda Allen.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Marta took another shot that was deflected out for a corner. The video assistant referee took a look at the play for a potential handball, but it was cleared. Murphy collected the corner kick, as the Pride wasted another chance.

Six minutes of stoppage time turned into nine minutes. The Pride had a flurry of chances but didn’t score. In the last minute of play the Courage earned a corner, but Moorhouse made one more save as time expired, and the teams split the points.

The Pride made up ground on the stat sheet, finishing with the advantage in possession (51%-49%), shots (19-14), corners (6-2), and passing accuracy (80%-77%). Shots on target were even (5-5).

The lack of clinical finishing is not normal for this Pride team. Even Banda wasn’t dialed in against the Courage. Given how stingy the Courage are at home, and how back and forth the match was, a point on the road is acceptable if not ideal.


The Pride are back home on Friday to host the Utah Royals at Inter&Co Stadium.

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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride wrap up their two-game road trip with a visit to the North Carolina Courage.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (8-0-4, 28 points) conclude their two-game road trip tonight against the North Carolina Courage (5-7-0, 15 points) in Cary, NC. This is the second and final time the two teams will face off during the 2024 NWSL regular season, although they will meet in the group stage of the Summer Cup.

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

History

The Pride and Courage have played 24 times since the Western New York Flash moved to North Carolina and became the Courage in 2017. The Pride are 6-13-5 in those games (6-10-1 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-3-2 in the NWSL Challenge Cup).

The most recent meeting between the two teams was on May 1 in Orlando. Barbra Banda and Ally Watt started up top together for the first time, a move that paid off in the game. In the 29th minute, Banda set up Watt for the opener. Watt repaid the favor in the 40th minute as the Pride went up 2-0. Julie Doyle added a goal just before halftime, giving the Pride a commanding lead. Emily Sams’ own goal was the only scoring for the Courage and Banda’s second of the night gave the Pride a 4-1 win.

The first game between the Pride and Courage in 2023 was on April 19 in Orlando. The Pride took the lead after halftime when Summer Yates set up Watt for the opening goal, but Denise O’Sullivan equalized in the ninth minute of second-half injury time, resulting in a 1-1 draw. On June 17 in North Carolina it was all Courage. Kerolin and Meredith Speck gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before a Haley McCutcheon own goal made it 3-0 to North Carolina.

The Pride didn’t show up for the July 29 Challenge Cup contest in North Carolina, getting demolished by the Courage. Brittany Ratcliffe and Malia Berkely gave the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead before Frankie Tagliaferri made it three, and a late brace by Haley Hopkins completed the 5-0 result. The Pride finally got a win on Sept. 17, 2023 at home. Watt got the Pride off to a great start, scoring inside the first minute. After assisting on the first goal, Adriana doubled the lead before halftime. Manaka Matsukubo got one back for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough and the Pride won 2-1.

The first meeting in 2022 came on May 18 in North Carolina. The Pride got off to a great start in that game, with Sydney Leroux scoring early. Mikayla Cluff doubled the lead with her first professional goal. A late goal by Brianna Pinto got the Courage back within one, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride took the 2-1 win. On Sept. 21, 2022 at Exploria Stadium, it was the Courage that got off to the better start when Debinha scored in the second minute. The Brazilian then assisted Tess Boade in first-half injury time to double the lead, and later added another, dooming the Pride to a 3-0 defeat.

The Pride and Courage were placed in the same division for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, so the teams played twice before the regular season started. The first game was on March 26 in North Carolina. Merritt Mathias converted a penalty after Gunny Jonsdottir was called for a handball in the box, lifting the hosts to a 1-0 win. The return match in the tournament took place on April 16 in Orlando. The Courage got off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes. Darian Jenkins netted a brace to make it 3-2, but a late Debinha goal put the game away and North Carolina won 4-2.

The teams played three times during the 2021 NWSL season. On May 22 in North Carolina, goals by Leroux and Alex Morgan gave the Pride a 2-0 lead late into the game. Jessica McDonald scored late to pull one back but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win. On July 4 in Orlando, Debinha and Havana Solaun goals helped the Courage take home a 2-0 win. The final game came on July 31 in North Carolina. Leroux opened the scoring but Brittany Ratcliffe equalized moments later and the teams drew 1-1.

The two teams were also matched up in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup but they only played once in that tournament. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in that game in a scoreless draw.

Similar to the Challenge Cup, the teams were in the same group of the 2020 Fall Series, meeting twice. The first was on Sept. 19 in North Carolina and ended in a scoreless draw. The second was on Oct. 17 at Exploria Stadium. Led by a Debinha brace, the Courage went up 3-0. But the Pride came back with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran for an exciting 3-3 draw.

The Pride and Courage played three times during the 2019 season. The first game was on April 17 in North Carolina. The Courage took a 1-0 lead into halftime but scored four times in the second half to win 5-0. They played a second time on June 1 in Orlando. Again, it was a dominant performance by the Courage as the Pride fell 3-0. The final meeting that year was another thrashing by North Carolina. The Pride got a goal in that one but still fell 6-1.

The teams also met three times in 2018 but the results were much closer. On May 23 in Orlando, goals by Alanna Kennedy and Rachel Hill saw the Pride come back from a 3-1 deficit. But McDonald scored a winner in the 90th minute and the Courage won 4-3. The Pride went down by three goals in the final two games that season, but were unable to come back and fell 3-0 in both contests.

The 2017 season saw the teams meet for the first time. The Courage took the first game 3-1 on April 29 in North Carolina. They played a second time two weeks later in Orlando when the Pride took the 3-1 win. The final meeting in 2017 came in the final game of the season on Sept. 30. The Pride took a 2-0 lead but the Courage came back to even it at 2-2. It looked headed for a draw until Kennedy netted a late winner, leading the Pride to a 3-2 win.

Overview

The Pride are coming off a hard-fought 1-1 draw in San Diego, a result that snapped their eight-game winning streak. Julie Doyle opened the scoring in the first half with arguably the goal of the season, but the visitors equalized through Makenzy Doniak in the 62nd minute. Despite ending their winning streak, the draw extended the Pride’s unbeaten run to 12 games and kept them tied on points with the Kansas City Current atop the NWSL standings.

Banda has been the most impressive player for the Pride this season, scoring eight goals, recording three assists, and drawing two penalties in eight games. She added to her assist tally in San Diego, setting up Doyle’s first-half goal. The team has also been strong defensively and Head Coach Seb Hines has found his preferred back four. After shifting players around because of injuries and suspensions, he’s used Sams, Rafaelle, Kylie Strom, and Kerry Abello in five of the last six games. However, Rafaelle missed the San Diego contest and is out tonight with a leg injury.

The Courage have historically been one of the best teams in the NWSL, but have struggled this season. They’re currently tied with Racing Louisville for seventh in the league and have a -2 goal differential. They’re in the middle of the league in both goals scored and goals conceded, unsurprisingly leaving them in the middle of the table.

North Carolina has been led offensively by the players you’d expect. Tyler Lussi has a team-leading three goals, just ahead of Bianca St-Georges and Haley Hopkins, who have two each. Dani Weatherholt, Ashley Sanchez, Brianna Pinto, Kaleigh Kurtz, and Malia Berkely have all added one as well. The only player with multiple assists this year is Sanchez, the team’s primary playmaker. The U.S. international will likely cause the most problems for the Pride back line, making stopping her essential.

The Courage haven’t been bad in most games defensively this season. Other than the 4-1 loss to the Pride, the only time they’ve conceded more than two goals was in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dash on May 24. However, they bounced back on June 8, only losing 1-0 to the Portland Thorns. They started the season with a four-person back line, but have recently switched to three in front of starting goalkeeper Casey Murphy, so it will be interesting to see how they line up tonight.

While the Courage have gotten off to a disappointing start, they’ve been excellent at home. The team has yet to drop points at WakeMed Soccer Park, winning all of their first five games, including a 2-0 win over the Thorns on April 13. Their home form will make winning a difficult task for the Pride.

“Results from them has shown that it’s a tough place to go and get points. They’re unbeaten, they’ve won every game there, and we expect nothing less than a tough game,” Hines said about the Courage. “So we’ll go out there, we’ll give everything like we have done in every game. We want to bounce back from almost a disappointing result away at San Diego. We know we can play better than that and so we’ll be going in there and looking for a win.”

Angelina (knee) isn’t listed on the injury report this week for the first time since her injury, but Morgan Gautrat (concussion) and Rafaelle (leg) have been added to players out. They’re joined by Celia (hip), Simone Charley (leg), Luana (illness), Megan Montefusco (heel), and Viviana Villacorta (knee). North Carolina will be without Sydney Collins (ankle), Estelle Johnson (maternity leave), Kerolin Nicoli (knee), Olivia Wingate (leg), and Ryan Williams (suspension), while Matsukubo (lower leg) and Dani Weatherholt (leg) are questionable.


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

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

Midfielders: Adriana, Summer Yates, Haley McCutcheon, Julie Doyle.

Forwards: Barbra Banda, Marta.

Bench: McKinley Crone, Cori Dyke, Carrie Lawrence, Ally Lemos, Angelina, Amanda Allen, Mariana Larroquette, Alex Kerr, Ally Watt.

North Carolina Courage (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Casey Murphy.

Defenders: Felicitas Rauch, Malia Berkely, Kaleigh Kurtz.

Midfielders: Victoria Pickett, Denise O’Sullivan, Narumi Miura, Bianca St-Georges.

Forwards: Tyler Lussi, Haley Hopkins, Ashley Sanchez.

Bench: Marisa Bova, Julia Dorsey, Natalia Staude, Jenna Winebrenner, Riley Jackson, Maya McCutcheon, Landy Mertz, Brianna Pinto, Meredith Speck.

Referees

REF: JC Griggs.
AR1: Nicholas Seymour.
AR2: Tiffini Turpin.
4TH: John Rush.
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal.
AVAR: Tom Felice.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.

TV: Bally Sports Florida.

Streaming: NWSL+.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow @SkoPurpSoccer, the official Twitter account of our Orlando Pride podcast (The Mane Land’s main account will be providing updates on Orlando City’s match), and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride at North Carolina Courage: Three Keys to Victory

What do the Pride have to do to earn a victory against the Courage?

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride head north to take on the North Carolina Courage Saturday night at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The Pride will look to extend their season-long unbeaten streak and start another win streak against the Courage. A victory might put the Pride back on top of the NWSL table.

What do the Pride have to do to earn all three points on the road?

Shut Down the Courage

Barbra Banda might have more goals than North Carolina’s Tyler Lussi and Bianca St-Georges combined, but that doesn’t mean the two players are not a threat to score. This season, Lussi and St-Georges have three goals and two goals, respectively, accounting for five of Carolina’s 13 goals. Keeping those two in check is imperative to secure a victory.

Doing so will require the Pride defense to be effective when passing out of the back. The bad habit of dribbling into the opposition, or making poorly weighted passes in their own third needs to stop. If the Pride can improve the passing out of the back while maintaining their otherwise solid defense, the club can limit Carolina’s chances.

More Better Moorhouse

Anna Moorhouse is a pretty good shot stopper, but I still hold my breath on crosses and corner kicks. Moorhouse had a pretty good match against the San Diego Wave, and she needs to improve on that performance. She has faced 43 shots on goal with 32 saves and 11 goals allowed. That the number of shots is so low is a testament to the defense in front of her. Moorhouse has the physical tools needed, now she just needs to fine tune her decision-making and put a little stickum on the keeper gloves. If she can continue to build on that last performance on Saturday against Carolina, the Pride will have a good shot at continuing the unbeaten streak.

Help Banda to Help You

Even when teams try to stop Banda by putting multiple players on her, it’s never completely effective. However, if Banda’s teammates can create some space and some chances on their own, that will draw defenders from Banda, allowing her to be more dangerous. As such, it is important to players like Adriana, Marta, Ally Watt, Julie Doyle, and Summer Yates to do more on their own. Teams are worried about Banda and will defend accordingly. Now, the Pride just need to make them pay for doing so.


That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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