Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (4-15-2, 14 points) take on Sky Blue FC (5-13-4, 19) at Red Bull Arena. This is the third and final meeting between these teams this season. Regardless of the outcome, the Pride will remain in last place and Sky Blue will stay in eighth.
The Pride hold the all-time advantage in the series, 5-3-2. This is helped by Orlando winning both of the meetings this season. On June 22, Orlando entered the game riding a 15-match winless streak that dated back to 2018. Two penalty kicks and an own goal decided this match, and the Pride finally won, 2-1.
A month later the teams met again. In the third-biggest attendance at a home Pride game and the largest since the 2017 home opener, Orlando beat Sky Blue, 1-0. Marisa Viggiano, who created the game-winning own goal in the previous match against Sky Blue, got her first professional goal with the game-winner.
The Pride only beat Sky Blue once in 2018. That win came on June 16, when Orlando edged out the New Jersey side, 3-2. Sydney Leroux recorded a first-half brace, and Rachel Hill scored the late game-winner.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw on Aug. 5, last year as well. After a scoreless first half, Marta put away a rebound after Dani Weatherholt’s shot hit the post at the beginning of the second half. Two minutes later, Imani Dorsey tied the game and six minutes after that, Shea Groom gave Sky Blue its first lead of the season in any match. In the 73rd minute, Camila drew a foul during a run into the box. The referee played advantage when Weatherholt ended up with the ball, and she put the ball in the back of the net. Marta missed what would have been the game-winning penalty in stoppage time.
Orlando had the edge in 2017. The Pride lost the first meeting, but then followed that up by winning the next two matches by a combined score of 8-2. In Orlando’s inaugural season the teams played in back-to-back games, and Orlando failed to win either. The teams drew 1-1 on Sept. 7, 2016 — the first draw in Pride history— and then Sky Blue won 2-1 three days later.
Neither team has much to play for in terms of the standings. Both teams will not be in the playoffs and their seasons are virtually over at this point. However, it was a similar situation last season. The difference was that the New Jersey side was winless, and fought hard to earn its only win of the year. Now it is the Pride’s turn to end a poor season with a strong showing.
With three games remaining — against Sky Blue, Washington, and the Reign — Marc Skinner will be looking to see which players he will be keeping for the next season. So, while the team has nothing to play for, each player on the Pride is fighting for a spot in next season’s team.
“They play a diamond shape and they’re very aggressive. We have to exploit that and make sure that the more we’re in possession, the less they can counter-attack and we need to stop that counter-attack, shore it up and make sure that we are effective with the ball,” Marc Skinner said.“Then we’ll have the best chance, regardless of the individuals that they put in. They have a very organized backline, a very good, young goalkeeper so it’ll be tough but we’re looking forward for our players to show exactly who they are and take on the opportunity.”
Sky Blue is led by USWNT star Carli Lloyd. The American has six goals and an assist in 12 matches this season. Rocky Rodriquez is also a player that the Pride will need to keep an eye on. The 25-year-old has started in all but two matches for Sky Blue. Rodriguez has three goals and two assists on the season.
Good news for the Pride is that both Toni Pressley and Sydney Leroux are off of the injury report. Pressley was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, and Leroux was on maternity leave. Orlando only will be missing Alex Morgan (right knee) and Emily van Egmond (left ankle), while Dani Weatherholt (right ankle) is listed as questionable. The visitors have three players out — Gina Lewandowski (left foot), Mandy Freeman (right achilles), and Madison Tiernan (left knee).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky, Ali Krieger, Kristen Edmonds.
Midfielders: Joanna Boyles, Marisa Viggiano, Alanna Kennedy.
Forwards: Marta, Rachel Hill, Claire Emslie.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Erin Greening, Danica Evans, Bridget Callahan, Abby Elinsky, Camila, Sydney Leroux.
Sky Blue FC (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan.
Defenders: Imani Dorsey, Estelle Johnson, Erica Skroski, Caprice Dydasco.
Midfielders: Raquel Rodriguez, Carli Lloyd, Sarah Killion, Elizabeth Eddy.
Forwards: Jennifer Hoy, Paige Monaghan.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Megan Hinz, Julie James, Nahomi Kawasumi, Amandine Pierre-Louis, Dominique Richardson, Kenie Wright.
Ref: Karen Callado.
AR1: Salma Perez.
AR2: Laura Waliski.
4th: Adorae Whitesel.
How to Watch
Match Time: 11 a.m. (ET).
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
Streaming: Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
Match Thread Rules
This is your live thread for posting comments on the match. So use our comments section below to talk about the game in real time with other supporters. If you’re new, welcome to our happy home! While you’re here, please observe a few basic rules:
- Absolutely no links to illegal streams. They can get us in trouble, and no one wants that.
- Try not to be the person who spews nothing but venom and hate for the team. It’s OK to be critical, and, let’s face it, sometimes even the best teams can be frustrating to watch, but being overly negative relentlessly can sap the enjoyment for others.
- Keep it somewhat clean and fair when criticizing players / officials. You never know who might be reading.
- Do unto others in the match thread, the way you would have others do unto you. We are a fun community and want to keep it this way. We have a moderator, but we’d rather let him enjoy the game instead of having to play babysitter.
Enjoy the match! Go Pride!
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.
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:
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.
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.
Five Questions About the Orlando Pride in 2024
What are the top five questions for the Orlando Pride heading into the 2024 NWSL season?
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.
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