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Orlando Pride vs. Sky Blue FC: Final Score 1-1 as Pride Can’t Hold Late Lead



The Orlando Pride played perhaps their best game of the season but old problems resurfaced to prevent a win in a 1-1 draw against Sky Blue in front of 8,314 fans at Red Bull Arena. Shelina Zadorsky gave the Pride an early lead that served as the game’s only goal until Carli Lloyd’s unchallenged header off a corner kick cross leveled the game late in the 88th minute.

The Pride (4-15-3, 15 points) ended up undefeated against Sky Blue (5-13-5, 20 points) on the season, finishing with two wins and a draw against the New Jersey side. Unfortunately (or fortunately if you want the top overall draft pick), it will make things difficult for Orlando to avoid finishing in dead last place in the NWSL in 2019. The Pride have two remaining home matches to Sky Blue’s one match, but trail eighth place by five points.

Marta returned to the lineup for Marc Skinner on the forward line, with Rachel Hill and Claire Emslie. Joanna Boyles, Marisa Viggiano, and Alanna Kennedy made up the midfield. Kristen Edmonds started at right back, making her 100th NWSL appearance alongside back line teammates Ali Krieger, Zadorsky, and Carson Pickett. Ashlyn Harris started in goal. Sydney Leroux made the 18 in her return from maternity leave.

The Pride started the match on the front foot and were dominant in the game’s first 20 minutes, out-shooting Sky Blue 9-1 in that span. Jo Boyles started things five minutes in with a shot from distance that trickled in easily for Kailen Sheridan to grab. Two minutes later, Viggiano made a nice turn and run into the Sky Blue penalty area, firing a shot that took a slight deflection and bounced off of the top of the crossbar.

Sky Blue cleared the set piece but Marta stole the ball on the left just outside the area and sent a left-footed shot just inches wide of the right post. In the ninth minute Hill sent a shot just wide to the left from outside the box. Sheridan was forced into a good diving save in the 10th minute to keep out Marta’s near-post effort.

Viggiano was one of Orlando’s best players in the first half, linking up well with her teammates, helping win back the ball from Sky Blue, and earning a dangerous set piece chance in the 13th minute. Zadorsky headed Emslie’s set piece cross just wide on the ensuing free kick.

Kennedy fired wide in the 15th minute from outside the area as the Pride continued to fire shots toward Sheridan’s net. In the 17th minute, Edmonds won a free kick near the right corner of the penalty area and it led to the opening goal. Emslie provided the service and it fell to the ground near the back post where Zadorsky swept it home for her first ever NWSL goal in the 18th minute.

Sky Blue looked to regroup after the goal and started building more patiently from the back, being more deliberate with the ball and keeping more possession, although it didn’t lead to many opportunities. The hosts were able to gain more confidence and stem the tide of Orlando chances by passing the ball more accurately and safely around their own half.

Still, Hill was able to win a free kick in a dangerous spot in the 27th minute. Emslie’s service was knocked down by the defense just behind the onrushing Krieger.

Sky Blue got their first transition opportunity in the 30th minute but Edmonds and Krieger combined to block a shot by Jennifer Hoy. Moments later, Marta stole the ball just outside the area and fired over the bar. Sky Blue came right back down the field and Paige Monaghan fired wide from long distance in the 32nd minute. A minute after that, Imani Dorsey sent in a cross that hit Lloyd and bounced toward goal but Harris got over to grab it.

Emslie sent in a deadly cross in the 40th minute that was just inches in front of Kennedy, who only needed the slightest touch to send it home.

Marta, making her first appearance since before the August FIFA break, nearly doubled the Pride’s lead in first-half stoppage time. Emslie won a free kick just outside the area after a hard challenge from behind by Dorsey. Marta took the set piece and curled a shot toward the upper 90 that didn’t quite bend enough and it smashed off the crossbar.

Although it didn’t take an inordinate amount of time for Marta to line up and take the free kick, for some reason the referee allowed quite a bit of play afterward — a theme that ended up repeating at the end of normal time as well. As a result, the hosts nearly — and should have — leveled in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage. Dorsey sent in a cross for Hoy who muffed her wide-open header and knocked it well over the bar just before the halftime whistle finally came.

Sky Blue saw more of the ball after the break and looked much more dangerous. The Pride started to get nervous in their own end as they’ve done throughout the season, gifting balls back to the opposition, failing to link up with teammates due to errant passes, and failing to deal sufficiently with routine balls into the area.

This resulted in more corner kicks for Sky Blue, and almost all of them seemed dangerous. The first warning bell of the half sounded after a corner was awarded in the 52nd minute and the cross in was headed by Boyles onto her own crossbar. In the 55th minute, an unmarked Lloyd sent a free header over the bar that she should have put on frame.

Viggiano sent a shot over the bar in the 58th when she had a teammate breaking through the defense. It was a mistake by the rookie in an otherwise solid game. Hill got into the box on a turnover seconds later but before she could shoot from about the penalty spot she stumbled and the chance evaporated.

In the 64th minute a good ball over the top found Hill who fired just wide as the Pride continued to squander opportunities to kill the game off.

A minute later Viggiano gave Hill another perfect ball. This time Hill scored but the flag was up for offside. Obviously the broadcast often doesn’t give a good view of the entire field but it appeared Hill needed to run past at least two Sky Blue defenders to get onto the ball and no good replay was shown, so whether the call was right or not…well, I can’t tell you. Hill didn’t argue it much so she must have thought so.

Marta stole another pass in the 68th minute and spied Sheridan off her line. She tried a shot from distance but didn’t elevate it and it was no trouble for Sky Blue’s goalkeeper. Moments later, Marta cut back a pass for Emslie at the top of the area and the Scottish international missed just wide on another wasted chance. A minute later, Marta again picked out Emslie — this time with a good ball over the top. Emslie brought it down and fired but the shot was blocked by Erica Skroski.

Harris parried away a Lloyd chance at the near post in the 76th minute as the hosts continued to press for an equalizer. Three minutes later, Pickett headed down an aerial ball perfectly for Sky Blue to start the transition but Monaghan sent a shot or a cross wide of goal.

Skinner put Camila in for Emslie and brought on Leroux for Viggiano. It was Leroux’s first appearance since Sept. 8, 2018. Neither sub made much of an impact on the game, except to waste a few precious seconds late. It wasn’t enough, as Sky Blue equalized just two minutes after Leroux was introduced. Lloyd was again free on a corner kick and this time the USWNT star didn’t miss, beating Harris to the far corner late in the 88th minute. Pickett — perhaps not the best player to be marking Lloyd — allowed the U.S. international to get inside of her and, like earlier, Kennedy tried to play the ball in the air rather than putting a body on the Sky Blue striker.

That was just about it, although Zadorsky fired a weak shot in easily for Sheridan to handle in the 90th minute on the recycle of a set piece. Lloyd then nearly won it for Sky Blue in the fifth (nearly sixth) minute of stoppage time of a game that was set to have three additional minutes and only a 45-second delay in getting Hill subbed off for Abby Elinski slowed the play after normal time had expired.

Harris came off her line to smother the initial shot and then knocked it aside as Elizabeth Eddy bundled over her. Harris knocked Eddy over on the play, which could have drawn a late penalty, but a foul had already been given for contact on the goalkeeper. Either way, it was nearly three minutes after the stated added time and it prevented an even worse fate for the Pride.

The Pride led in shots (17-16), shots on goal (5-2), possession (50.1%-49.9%), and passing accuracy (82.4%-76.7%) but managed to let the late lead slip away. Orlando was out-shot 15-8 after Zadorsky’s goal but the Pride got numerous quality chances and simply couldn’t put any of them away. That was obviously compounded by continued weak defending on set pieces. Lloyd is a great player but there’s no good reason not to ensure she’s marked on set pieces.

In the end, the Pride dropped two more points by allowing their 14th goal conceded after the 75th minute this season.

Next up for the Pride is a home date with the Washington Spirit next Saturday in a makeup game of a match that was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian’s approach.

Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Anna Moorhouse

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



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s second with the Orlando Pride and her first as the team’s starting goalkeeper. She was originally signed prior to the 2022 season, backing up veteran Erin McLeod that year. However, the Canadian international left the team, resulting in Moorhouse taking over the starting role.

Let’s take a look at Moorhouse’s first season starting for the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Moorhouse started 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games, playing 1,623 minutes. The team’s record in those games was 9-9-1, as she conceded 22 goals, saving 72 of her 94 shots faced (76.6%). She ended the year with seven clean sheets, 19 catches, six punches, and four drops. The Pride’s number one completed 387 of her 573 passes (67.5%) out of the back and 115 of her 292 long balls. The passing accuracy in her own half was 79.1% and 32.4% in the opposing half. She conceded one foul and won two, getting sent off in the third minute of the team’s 1-0 loss to OL Reign on Sept. 3.

The English shot stopper also played in four Challenge Cup games, recording 360 minutes. She conceded 10 goals in the competition with no clean sheets and saved 13 of her 23 shots faced (56.5%). Moorhouse had three catches, one punch, and no drops in the secondary competition. She successfully completed 69 of her 111 passes (62.2%) and 29 of her 68 long passes (42.6%). Similar to the regular season, her pass completion percentage was far higher in her own half (76.4%) than in the opposing half (35.9%). Additionally, she won a foul and didn’t concede any.

Best Game

Moorhouse’s most active game was the season opener against the Portland Thorns, where she faced 27 shots and made 12 saves. However she conceded four goals and one was her fault. Her best game of the year came on Oct. 2 in Los Angeles and it was a critical one. Adriana scored in the 22nd minute against Angel City FC to give the Pride a 1-0 lead and the visitors held on for dear life to claim three points that put them in the running for a playoff spot.

One of Moorhouse’s seven clean sheets, the goalkeeper made seven saves on the night, her second-most of the season. Most of Angel City’s shots were right at the goalkeeper, but she was sure-handed, something that plagued her earlier in the year. In the 57th minute, Claire Emslie beat Haley McCutcheon to the ball inside the six-yard box, but Moorhouse was decisive in coming out, forcing the forward to send her shot into the side netting. Her biggest moment of the game came in the 86th minute, when substitute Sydney Leroux got her head on the ball and put it on target. Moorhouse tipped the attempt over the crossbar, maintaining the Pride’s narrow 1-0 lead.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Moorhouse a composite grade of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 NWSL season. Shot stopping was her strength, but she struggled at other aspects, especially holding onto the ball. On multiple occasions this season, her inability to hold onto a catch resulted in second chances and goals for the opposition. She struggled in the team’s penultimate game against Racing Louisville, effectively ending the Pride’s season, and her third-minute red card against OL Reign was likely a determining factor in a crucial 1-0 loss. However, she had seven clean sheets on the season and was the team’s best goalkeeper.

2024 Outlook

Moorhouse’s initial contract was a two-year deal, running through the 2023 season. While there were questions about her dependability in goal this season, Seb Hines and Haley Carter were pleased with her performances, awarding her with a new contract on Oct. 5, keeping the goalkeeper in purple through at least the 2025 season. The Pride now have four goalkeepers under contract for next year, and Moorhouse will be challenged for her role as the starter by new signing Sofia Manner.

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Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner

The Pride have added a fourth goalkeeper and the second one from abroad ahead of the 2024 NWSL season.



Image courtesy of the Orlando Pride and FC Honka

The Orlando Pride announced today the signing of goalkeeper Sofia Manner, who was acquired for an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. Manner has signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. The signing is a bit curious as it comes less than two months after the Pride extended English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse through the 2025 season, giving Orlando two international goalkeepers and four total netminders under contract.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to join Orlando Pride, a team I have admired since my youth,” Manner said in a club press release. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to contribute to such a renowned organization in women’s soccer. The prospect of starting this journey fills me with great enthusiasm, and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to the team. I’m ready to put in hard work and help write a new chapter for the Orlando Pride.” 

Manner, who turned 26 on Nov. 9, conceded the fewest goals in the Kansallinen Liiga this season and is a nominee for the league’s Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. She appeared in 23 matches and earned 10 clean sheets across all competitions, was twice named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Month this season, and was Player of the Month in April.

“Sofia is a tremendous addition to our goalkeeping corps and one we expect to challenge for the starting position,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. “She brings an underdog mentality and gritty work ethic and fits every aspect of the profile we have built for our goalkeepers. Her size, aerial ability, shot-stopping prowess, and distribution are world class. She brings international experience and has led the Kansallinen Liiga in nearly every goalkeeping metric. Her nominations for Goalkeeper of the Year and Best Player are indicative of her winning mentality and drive to be the best. We are excited to bring her to Orlando and to give her an opportunity to prove herself in our environment and in the NWSL.” 

The shot stopper has experience playing in the United States, having played collegiately with Stony Brook University. She compiled a 1.14 career goals-against average across three seasons, which is fourth-best in Seawolves’ history. Her 20 shutouts ranks third in program history, and she compiled a .796 save percentage, which is ninth best all time.

While at Stony Brook, Manner was named America East Freshman of the Year in 2017, was a first-team all-conference selection in 2019, and was the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She started in every match in her final two seasons at Stony Brook, backstopping the Seawolves to an America East conference championship in 2019 and a regular-season title in 2018.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride currently have four goalkeepers under contract: 2023 starter Anna Moorhouse (through 2025), backup Carly Nelson (through 2024), third keeper Kaylie Collins (through 2024), and now Manner (through 2025). Collins is on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League Women in Australia. Four goalkeepers will provide spirited competition in preseason camp, to be sure, but it’s likely that one of these players will be on the move at some point.

If Manner wins the starting goalkeeper spot from Moorhouse, it may be for reasons other than stopping shots. Moorhouse did a good enough job of that, but often struggled with balls in from the wings, which was illustrated in the Pride’s penultimate game of the year — a must-win match at Racing Louisville — when a routine-looking corner kick cross appeared to be easily catchable, but Moorhouse went for a punch instead and knocked the winning goal for Louisville into her own net. That dropped point in the standings put Orlando in jeopardy on Decision Day and indeed the Pride beat Houston but missed the postseason on goal differential. It was a crucial point dropped.

That wasn’t Moorhouse’s only major error on the season, as she set an NWSL record with the earliest sending off in league history with her third-minute red card at OL Reign on Sept. 3 — a match the Pride lost 1-0 while playing one player short for 87 minutes plus stoppage. She has also frequently spilled crosses and shots from distance.

Orlando needed to upgrade the position. Whether Manner is an upgrade remains to be seen, but as Carter said, she is expected to compete for the starting spot. If nothing else, the competition should be good for the Pride. If Manner does take the starting position, it seems logical that the club will look to move either Moorhouse or Nelson.

The goalkeeper position will provide one of the Pride’s most intriging camp battles.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Kylie Strom

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



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

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

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

Statistical Breakdown

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

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

Best Game

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

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

2023 Final Grade

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

2024 Outlook

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

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