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Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Player Grades and Player of the Match

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If I had to put money on who would score the Pride’s 100th goal, Toni Pressley — for a multitude of reasons — wouldn’t have been near the top of my list. But considering how this season has played out so far, was it really a surprise to anyone at this point?

Then, after losing the lead and allowing three goals, Haley Kopmeyer shut down a penalty kick in the 66th minute, and like that, the crowd and the team were back in it. It felt like at any moment the Pride would close the scoreline and perhaps salvage a point. Portland felt it too, and immediately sprinkled in as much time wasting as they could.

The comeback never came, of course, and the game ended with a thematically timed thunderstorm and a 3-1 loss to Portland. And believe it or not, I saw quite a few positives, and for me, this was the first time I saw an exciting match from the Pride in 2019. Time to break it down and give you my perspective.

Starters

GK, Haley Kopmeyer, 6 — Portland had five shots on goal, and Kopmeyer stopped two of them with the previously mentioned double save off the penalty, which earned a Save of the Week nomination. Taking a look back at the other three shots, her momentum was taking her away from the near post and she couldn’t get a proper hand on it, leading to the rebound goal. Next, the free kick from Andressinha was a thing of beauty, and an unmarked Caitlin Foord sent a rocket in to cap it off, that Kopmeyer could have perhaps reacted better to. Her distribution was solid, specifically in the second half when she only had three incomplete passes.

D, Erin Greening, 5 — I thought Greening had a rough first half offensively. Greening had a lot of passes forward into empty space. It was like she didn’t want to ever possess the ball. So the moment she got it, it had to go somewhere else, no matter what. The second half was a bit better in that regard. A decent night defensively, some good stops here and there, but like the rest of the line, they have plenty of work to do on communication.

D, Morgan Reid, 5.5 — Reid’s first professional appearance was pretty solid. I’ll echo the work that needs to be done on communication here, but Reid was pretty solid in distributing the ball with 71.4%, putting her third-best on the Pride. Reid also ended with three clearances and an important tackle in the box late in the game.

D, Toni Pressley, 6 (PotM) — Pressley last played Aug. 11, 2018. In her 2019 debut, she not only ended a frustrating goal drought by scoring her third NWSL goal, but also added six clearances, two interceptions, and a couple of blocks to her totals. The only downsides were that speedy Portland was given a lot of space on the right, and Pressley just couldn’t match the Thorns’ speed, which was partly responsible for the penalty she conceded. Also, I would like to see her use the midfield a bit more if her long balls are going to keep going to no one. Even without the goal, I imagine Pressley would have been a contender for Player of the Match. With it, she’s a lock.

D, Carson Pickett, 5.5 — It’s hard to believe that Pickett’s assist was her first for the Pride, but it finally came off an early corner. Her passing was at a 65.4%, with a lot of the misses coming from crosses into the box that never found a target. Short of that, I thought Pickett’s work on the side was pretty good, but those threats from Portland were a bit too frequent, and that had to do a bit with how far forward she would get.

MF, Joanna Boyles, 5.5 — A lot of activity from Boyles helped the young midfielder lead the team in touches, with 78. As she gets more settled, Boyles is showing her tenacity and passion, and adding to that were five tackles, a few clearances and a couple of interceptions to disrupt Portland. That passing though — 50% isn’t good enough.

MF, Emily van Egmond, 5 — I’ll admit, I always kind of struggle to find something to say about van Egmond. She can be great in those rare moments where we see actual link-up play, and her set pieces can always be promising, but in this match we didn’t get to see much of that. She had one of the better nights in passing at 67.4%, but even if it’s against Portland’s midfield, the team has to find a way to better connect.

MF, Dani Weatherholt, 5.5 — Weatherholt started to really find a groove in the second half before coming off with some strong efforts on the left side of the field. Before the match, I tried to goad her over Twitter to rip one outside the box to get the 100th goal in her 50th appearance, but she either didn’t see it, or didn’t take the bait. It is something I’ve been missing this season though — the occasional threat that she can pose from just outside the box. She had two goals last year, and it’s obvious the Pride need the help on offense wherever they can get it.

F, Chioma Ubogagu, 5 — It was a very low-key game from Chi Saturday night. Compared to her usual numbers, Ubogagu had about half the touches she normally has and didn’t even take a shot. She started off 2018 with four goals, primarily while the internationals were out, and the Pride will definitely need that back as they make the transition again this year.

F, Marta, 6 — My impression of Marta in this match was primarily that she needed more determination in all phases. Offensively, she fought to get the ball into the box as often as possible, including taking six shots of her own — one of which was an incredible volley that is now on a Save of the Week highlight for Britt Eckerstrom. She fought to keep possession, often putting on a clinic in how to go 1-v-2. Perhaps she tried to force it a bit too much at times, as her passing was pretty low for her at 59.6%. But the team knows that all things will flow through Marta, and several players need to be ready and provide an outlet when she needs them.

F, Rachel Hill, 6 — This was Hill’s best effort yet in 2019. She left everything on the field Saturday night, and it’s a shame she wasn’t able to produce anything. She had the most chances created at three, four tackles (one of which made the crowd around me gasp), and three fouls, which to me was a good thing. That includes the foul that led to Portland’s second goal. Her only misstep there was maybe not fouling a bit sooner.

Substitutes

MF, Camila (59’), 5.5 — It was another solid night as a sub for Camila. She completed nine of 11 passes for an 81.8% rate. I feel like her rhythm is close to what we love seeing, and I’d like to see her start again, so we can see her settled into a game.

MF, Abby Elinsky (78’), 5 — With the little time we got to see Elinsky, one thing that I noticed was her ability to quickly take direction from teammates, specifically Marta. On top of what I already like about her, that malleability will be of benefit moving forward.


There you have it. No second watch for me on this one, as the Yahoo! stream was a hot pile of garbage, so any other impressions of the match from all of you are definitely appreciated. I’m going to use the storm that ended the match as an omen — a good omen that the winds of change are coming, and we’re about to see some thunder and lightning.

Now vote for your player of the match!

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Haley Kopmeyer1
Toni Pressley5
Marta2
Rachel Hill4
Other (comment below)2

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

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Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

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