Connect with us

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Utah Royals: Player Grades and Player of the Match



The Orlando Pride, still looking for that first win, came up short on Saturday in the 1-0 loss to Utah. The team’s effort on the defensive side of the ball was good, and oftentimes great, but it’s still the link-up play that is falling short on the offensive side.

Facing a fantastic defensive side like the Utah Royals is never an easy task, and even with finally getting a full week between games, the Pride often seemed just a bit too slow in breaking through that back line.

I’m feeling like most of you on these results, although I did expect a rough 2019. So maybe it’s with that in mind, my grades might come off a bit high this week considering the bigger picture remains pretty terrible — no wins, and one goal (by a defender). I do think this was the best 90 yet with, of course, a lot of work to do. Time to break it down.


GK, Haley Kopmeyer, 6 — Kop was just a step off on saving the lone goal in the match, and that will be the primary takeaway here. However, the rest of the shift was pretty great. A couple of soft saves, and then a solid 1-v-1 stop on Amy Rodriguez near the end of the first half. In the 64th minute, she had a great reaction save on Christen Press to keep the game within reach. A good night on her distribution, where we saw the ball get into the attack in the 36th, but Becky Sauerbrunn eventually put a stop to it.

D, Ali Krieger, 6 — Krieger had a great first half and a decent second half. In the former, Krieger was doing Krieger things like shutting down Press, and giving great looks forward offensively. The latter half, things cooled off a bit and she lacked her usual involvement. My favorite moment in this one was Krieger getting burned by Press in the 11th minute, recovering, and ripping the ball away in the box. Great effort as always.

D, Alanna Kennedy, 6 — Good outing from Kennedy. She did everything that I could ask for, with a couple of gaffes here and there, but with a handful of clearances and blocks, and half the team’s shots on goal, I thought it was a decent night. Her ability in the box on set pieces is always fun to watch, and she was maybe an inch from getting the second goal for her (and the Pride) on the season when Carson Pickett zipped a ball in the 73rd minute.

D, Shelina Zadorsky, 5.5 — I wasn’t a fan of the first 20 minutes. Zadorsky was allowing a bit too much time and space near the top of the box, which one moment led to the Utah goal. The difference in her approach after that was night and day. She would step up and close the attack down. Lo and behold, it made it difficult for Utah to produce anything after that.

D, Carson Pickett, 6.5 (PotM) — Defensively, I thought Pickett had one of her best nights in purple. There were a couple of huge interceptions that could have been very dangerous if she had not intervened. Her corners were almost always a threat, and her pressure on the ball was pretty solid, including a good moment where she dispossessed Press late in the first half. As mentioned just above, her effort in the 73rd was an inch away from making the game even. Even late in the game, she energetically continued to bomb up and down the side of the field. Unfortunately, a couple of key runs went ignored.

MF, Dani Weatherholt, 5 — Like the rest of the team, Weatherholt had a solid night pressing the ball, but I would like to see her occupy that empty space on the side of the field. Oftentimes she stays right in the middle, and when the ball is trying to get forward, if she moves to either side and becomes the third player, I think it would be easier on everyone to maintain possession.

MF, Emily van Egmond, 5 — To echo my notes on Weatherholt, I would like Van Egmond occupy those acres of wide open space on the sides to help possession, and since I consider her a bit more of an attacker compared to Weatherholt, I want her in or around the box every single time the team is on attack. She was there for a handful of chances, but often, there would be a lone attacker because the others were out wide trying to get the ball in.

MF, Chioma Ubogagu, 6 — Chi’s best match this year. The entire time she was on the field, she put amazing pressure on Utah, getting the ball back into the Pride’s possession. Offensively, she continues to put herself in good positions, but her final touch is always a mystery, or the pass is just a bit late.

F, Marta, 5.5 — Marta really looked worn out in this one. She’s played all 360 minutes this year, in a short period of time no less, and with all the ground she’s trying to cover, it is clearly taking a toll. She was grabbing her knees before the first half ended. This caused her to be a bit late at times in joining the attack. If Marta’s feet aren’t so heavy at the end of the first half, she puts that shot in a dangerous area and makes Nicole Barnhart work for it.

F, Alex Morgan, 6 — I think Alex dropping back to midfield worked out a little better Saturday night than in previous matches. We actually got a glimpse at some link-up play in the second half when she and Hill got together to get the ball forward. What I really appreciated in this one was her constant effort to win the ball in the air. Her touch to then put the ball at someone’s feet or in their path is always great to watch.

F, Rachel Hill, 5 — Definitely a step up from the last match for the young attacker. I’d like to see Hill in the box more often, especially when the attack is coming in from the opposite side. That far post was lonely way too much. With four starts to begin the year, she’s reached half her highest total, of eight, which was in 2017. So although there is still a lot of work to do, Hill is consistently getting time, with plenty more to come.


MF, Camila (59’), 5 — It took 20 minutes for Camila to get settled in and consistently involved, but when she did, she saw and completely ignored a bombing Pickett who had quite a bit of space, and immediately turned it over. She had a great back-heel pass to Morgan that got her forward. So, an average night for the first substitute for the Pride. I need to see her move like she’s been on the field for an hour less than the Utah players though. Camila was a bit slow on the night for me.

MF, Joanna Boyles (72’), 4.5 — Once Boyles was in, the Pride were actually holding possession in their half for most of the match, so she wasn’t all that involved. No egregious errors by the 2018 32nd overall draft pick, and she completed seven of nine passes.

MF, Marisa Viggiano (83’), N/A — Viggiano got to at least come in and run around for a bit. She made two promising runs that went ignored, and couldn’t even get some love on a Marta throw-in. I’m sure we’re about to get a better eye on what she can do in the future.

There you go, folks. You aren’t going to get “doom and gloom” from me, as my expectations were pretty low before the home opener. I want to see improvement as time goes on, and I think we got that against a tough team that has a stellar coach. I’m hurting for goals too, and we might not be out of the woods on that just yet, but we get to find out if it happens this Sunday when the Pride travel to Houston.

Now go ahead and get that vote for your Pride Player of the Match.

Polling Closed

Haley Kopmeyer2
Ali Krieger5
Alanna Kennedy5
Carson Pickett4
Chioma Ubogagu1
Alex Morgan0
Other (comment below)2

Orlando Pride

Five Questions About the Orlando Pride in 2024

What are the top five questions for the Orlando Pride heading into the 2024 NWSL season?



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride have begun their preseason training for the 2024 NWSL season and will play their first preseason scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. The team nearly made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2017, narrowly missing out on the final day of the season. The team’s been busy this off-season, looking to improve the squad. However, there are still some questions to be answered before the competitive games start.

Here are five burning questions about the Pride for 2024.

Who Will Start in Goal?

The Pride signed English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse from French side Bordeaux on Jan. 31, 2022 to back up Erin McLeod. When the Canadian left after the 2022 season, Moorhouse was elevated to starter. She played well at times last year, but was inconsistent. However, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines showed confidence in the 28-year-old, starting her in 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games.

In December, the Pride traded backup Carly Nelson to the Utah Royals for Allocation Money. The move came 11 days after they signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner, indicating the club was planning for the departure. While Moorhouse will undoubtedly start the season as the team’s number one, Manner could claim the position if Moorhouse’s inconsistency returns. It will be something to keep an eye on this year.

Who Will Start in the Defensive Midfield?

The Pride focused on the team’s back line last year, but much of the effort this off-season has been on the defensive midfield. The team traded for Haley McCutcheon on Aug. 18, 2022 and it appeared as though she would start in the position. However, Hines moved her to right back last year, where she’s become the regular starter. It then looked like recent draft picks Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff would be the duo, but Cluff was traded to Utah on Nov. 15 for Expansion Draft protection and Villacorta tore her ACL late last year.

The club focused on the position this off-season, bringing in Brazilian internationals Angelina and Luana, along with USWNT player Morgan Gautrat. All three will battle to start in the defensive midfield, especially since Villacorta is injured and fellow defensive midfielders Cluff and Jordyn Listro are gone. But it’s still unknown who will start in those positions. It’s a question that will likely be answered in the coming weeks as the Pride build for the start of the regular season in March.

Where is Ally Watt Best Suited?

After tearing down the roster in a full rebuild, the Pride made two significant acquisitions in August 2022. In addition to trading for McCutcheon, the Pride dealt Allocation Money to OL Reign (now Seattle Reign FC) for forward Ally Watt. The speedy attacker quickly became the second option up top for the Pride, typically playing behind rookie Messiah Bright last year and starting the odd game. However, that’s not the only position she played.

Hines has shown he values versatility and illustrated that with Watt last year. In addition to playing up top, Watt was deployed on the right side of the midfield. Her speed and ability with the ball was an asset in the position, and she was praised by teammates in the role. They love having her on the right and Julie Doyle on the left, the two fastest players on the team. The questions now become: which position is she best at, and where does she best fit in with this team?

Who will Replace Messiah Bright?

Possibly the biggest question for the 2024 season is who will replace the starting striker. The Pride drafted Bright with the 21st overall pick of the 2022 NWSL Draft out of TCU, and she quickly became the focal point of the attack. Her six regular-season goals last year tied Adriana for the team lead. However, the forward requested a trade this off-season, citing personal reasons, and was shipped off to Angel City FC.

The club did sign Simone Charley, most recently with Angel City, who could replace Bright. However, she’s coming off a season-ending injury and wasn’t as effective in Los Angeles as she was in Portland. Other options include Canadian international Amanda Allen or Argentina international Mariana Larroquette. Watt might be the most likely to start the season up top as it stands, with Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter recently telling our SkoPurp Soccer podcast that 2024 will be “the season of Ally.” But it remains to be seen who will be the Pride’s new number nine.

Will We Discover the Pride’s New Number 10?

Marta has been the Pride’s number 10 since she arrived in 2017 and the team’s most prolific player. She leads the team all-time in appearances (102), starts (95), minutes (8,456), goals (31), and assists (18) in all competitions. However, she’s on the final year of a two-year deal that’s widely expected to be the last for the soon-to-be-38-year-old midfielder. If she does depart the club following the 2024 season, they Pride will need to find her replacement.

The club could go outside and find her replacement for 2025, but there are options in the current squad. The most talented player on the team currently is Brazilian international Adriana, who has typically played on the right side of the midfield, causing problems for defenses. She’s also switched with Marta at times, moving central, and has played there at the international level. The club also has Summer Yates, the former Washington Husky drafted in 2023. Yates slipped to the fourth round, where the Pride grabbed her, and Carter recently said she’s seen significant development in the second-year player.

While the primary focus is on this season, Hines could show his hand with who plays the most minutes behind Marta in the attacking midfield. While a final decision will probably be left to the 2025 preseason, we can get an idea of who might be in line for arguably the most significant role on the team during the 2024 campaign.

The Pride enter the 2024 season with more expectations than the last two years. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2023 and will be looking to improve this season. While most of the team is intact, there are some questions to be answered during preseason and the coming regular season. It will tell us a lot about the team’s 2024 season and the coming years.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride’s Summer Yates and Amanda Allen in Line for Breakout Seasons

Summer Yates and Amanda Allen could have breakout seasons for the Pride.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride are in the third year of a full rebuild, although there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Last season saw multiple young players take big steps forward in their development and this year will undoubtedly see more. Two players who currently look like they’ll play bigger roles in the team are midfielder Summer Yates and forward Amanda Allen.

Yates and Allen are two young players with bright futures that the Pride brought in during 2023. They drafted Yates out of the University of Washington with the third pick of the fourth round (39th overall) of the 2023 NWSL Draft. You usually don’t find this level of talent that late in the draft, but Yates was expected to go much higher. She began slipping through the second and third rounds, enabling the Pride to complete what could be the steal of the draft.

Rather than coming in through the draft, the Pride were able to sign Allen directly. The teenager made her way through the Canadian national team system, making her senior team debut in November 2022. She was seen as a player for the future but didn’t see much of the field last year.

It’s not a surprise to see young players in this team see significant minutes, as the Pride have focused on it over the past few seasons. It’s something that Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter spoke about with The Mane Land’s SkoPurp Soccer podcast last week. 

“I think you develop through meaningful match minutes,” Carter said on SkoPurp. “Even if you look at some of the signings that we’ve made, young athletes, you look at Amanda Allen for instance, making sure she’s getting meaningful match minutes is really important to us.”

Yates and Allen are both likely to see more minutes this year but face different situations. Yates saw more time on the field during her rookie season, making 10 league appearances and recording 108 minutes. She made a further six appearances (two starts) in the NWSL Challenge Cup for 259 minutes and recorded two assists in the competition.

The Pride signed Marta to a two-year extension following the 2022 NWSL season, so this could very well be the last year of her career. Once the star is gone, the Pride will be looking for a long-term replacement and Yates could be that player. Carter even told SkoPurp that she’s seen development in the midfielder this off-season.

“(Yates) is flying, by the way. Summer Yates is chef’s kiss flying,” Carter said. “She had an unbelievable off-season. She’s like a whole new player this year.”

The midfielder was the primary playmaker for Washington in college and played that role when she appeared for the Pride last year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her play more minutes this season, especially since the club will likely lose Adriana at times to international duty.

Allen is in a different position than Yates but might have a similar opportunity to prove herself this season. At the end of last year, she was the fourth striker on the depth chart behind Messiah Bright, Ally Watt, and Mariana Larroquette. However, Bright asked for a trade this off-season due to personal reasons and was shipped to Angel City FC. The club could still bring in a veteran striker to replace the young forward, but Carter said it’s not a major concern for the team at the moment.

“We feel like we’re in a good place,” Carter said about the striker situation. “It’s not something that we’re terribly concerned about.”

However, she also said that the club has worked at strengthening the back line and midfield positions over the past two seasons. Now it’s time to look for goal scorers that can push the team to be a contender in the NWSL.

“If you look at it from a strategy standpoint, how we’ve approached the last year, we got to improve the back line. And that’s what we did first,” Carter said. “And then the priority became the midfield. And that’s what we did in the beginning of the off-season. And now we’re looking for established goal scorers.”

Watt was the starter at the forward position last year when Bright wasn’t available or needed rest. While it’s fair to assume she would simply move up to the number one spot on the depth chart, Carter further indicated the veteran would be the team’s nine.

“I feel like this is going to be the year of Ally,” Carter said about the forward.

The Pride emphasize versatility, something they’ve shown the past few seasons. While Watt will likely be the starting forward when the season starts, she also played on the right in 2023. Following her appearances last year in the midfield, her attacking teammates gave glowing reviews about having the speed of Watt on the right and Julie Doyle on the left.

The club’s focus on Watt up top might seem like a negative for Allen’s playing time. After all, the teenager didn’t appear much last season, only making three league appearances for nine minutes. She didn’t play much more in the NWSL Challenge Cup, making three appearances, with one start, for 91 minutes.

However, Allen has two things going for her. One is that the club values providing meaningful minutes to young players and Allen is seen as part of the future of this team. It’s also not easy to find proven goal scorers. Unless the club can find a proven goal scorer by the trade and transfer deadline on April 22, Allen will move up on the depth chart.

The focus for the Pride this season is improving on last year and making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. However, they also have an eye on the future with the team still being young. Last year, we saw young players like Bright and Emily Madril prove themselves at the professional level. This year we could see Yates and Allen make a similar jump.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Rebuild Resembles Orlando City’s

The Pride are taking a page from the Lions on building a winning club.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Building a winning club is not an easy thing to do. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Of course, there are different ways to go about it. You can spend a ton of money on flashy, big-name players who you throw together and hope something comes out of it. The Orlando Pride already tried that and it didn’t work. One other way is to take your time to build something from scratch. It isn’t as quick, and takes patience, but it is usually more sustainable.

Just like with Orlando City, it started with a coach. Seb Hines took over as interim head coach following the departure of Amanda Cromwell under less-than-ideal conditions. Oscar Pareja has built a culture with the Lions and now Hines is doing the same for the Pride. The arrival of Haley Carter has resulted in a partnership that aims to bring more wins for the club.

One of the key factors in Orlando City’s rebuild was the addition of Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos to create a stable center back pairing. Now, the Pride look like they have done the same thing with Rafaelle and Emily Madril. Rafaelle is signed through the 2025 season, and Madril through the 2026 season. Those two, along with Haley McCutcheon, Carrie Lawrence, Megan Montefusco, and Kylie Strom, among others, have stabilized a defense that was pretty porous in the past. It is the foundation.

I don’t think that the Pride have the equivalent of a Pedro Gallese in goal, but there will be plenty of competition between Anna Moorhouse, Sofia Manner, and Kaylie Collins. With Collins on loan in Australia, Moorhouse and Manner will battle it out for the starting role.

We saw the difference that Facundo Torres, Cesar Araujo, and Wilder Cartagena made in the Orlando City midfield. The Pride have beefed up their midfield over the last year, adding Brazilians Angelina and Luana, as well as the recent additions of Morgan Gautrat and NWSL Draft pick Ally Lemos. The plan is for the Pride to be able to work the ball up the field rather than having to lump it over the top all the time. This will create chances for the forwards to get more service from the midfield and thus score more goals.

Speaking of the attack, the Pride have several options despite the departure of Messiah Bright. Ally Watt is coming off her first fully healthy season and is looking to prove she is the person for the job. Adriana was my player of the year for the Pride in 2023 and I expect even more from her in 2024. There is also Julie Doyle, Mariana Larroquette, Amanda Allen, and the newly acquired Simone Charley. That is a lot of potential firepower now that the midfield is in better shape. 

I know that some supporters get a little jealous when other clubs like NJ/NY Gotham FC are making splashy, big-name signings, but remember, it wasn’t those signings that won Gotham the title last season. I also know that having a fan favorite like Bright head off to another club seems like a big blow. We’re all a little sensitive that the Pride have been snubbed by the likes of Mia Fishel, Debinha, and others. 

We interviewed Haley Carter on the SkoPurp Soccer PawedCast the other day, and one thing she said really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but basically it was to be glad for all the players who want to be here. They are putting in the work. They have bought into the culture that the club is building. They are signing contract extensions because they believe. To quote Ted Lasso, “I believe in believe,” and it might be the hope that kills you, but I’m pretty excited about what is being built in Orlando right now.  

Also, consider this: the transfer window doesn’t close until April. The Pride might not be done making moves. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and please listen to the interview with Haley Carter if you haven’t already. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading