Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final 3-0 as the Pride Once Again Struggle



The Orlando Pride (4-16-3, 15 points) fell 3-0 to the Washington Spirit (9-8-6, 36 points) in their penultimate match of 2019. Orlando had little offense going, and struggled to connect passes in the attacking half. Ashley Hatch scored in the first half, and Tiffany McCarty and Crystal Thomas also scored.

“It’s just a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I’m not going to say anything that I haven’t said all season,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the game. “Individual errors, which you expect from people that are going to come in serve their first start and so on. From a collective of players that quite frequently come and knock on your door to see if they can play, I just don’t think it’s good enough. It’s not acceptable.”

Skinner made a few changes to his starting XI. Lainey Burdett made her professional debut, getting the nod in goal instead of Haley Kopmeyer. Dani Weatherholt and Morgan Reid started in place of Shelina Zadorsky and Ali Kreiger on the back line — both Zadorsky and Kreiger were on international duty. Danica Evans got her third start of the season up top with Rachel Hill and Claire Emslie on the wings.

Kristen Edmonds was honored before the match for making her 100th NWSL appearance against Sky Blue last week. The Orlando Pride original also wore the captain’s armband tonight.

“It’s always an honor [to wear the captain’s band],” Edmonds said. “Especially for this club. I’ve been here since the beginning so anytime I get to wear this and be the leader out there it’s definitely special and I'm honored to wear it tonight.”

It took just five minutes to get the scoring underway. Emslie turned the ball over in Washington’s box, and then the Spirit immediately went on the counter. Hatch tried a shot from the top of the box and sent it into the far corner, putting the visitors up 1-0. After the goal, Kristen Edmonds called the entire Pride team together.

The game slowed down after the first goal. Orlando attempted to play out of the back. The Pride were pretty successful in it, but once they got into Washington’s half, they were unable to connect with each other.

“No matter what position you are in, you can always be a playmaker,” Carson Pickett said. “I think that our whole team is comfortable on the ball and I think we show it at times. Then, depending on how the game goes, we might have to kick it long. But today I felt like we did look comfortable on the ball and that’s something that I think we need to bring every game because we all have it in our toolbox.”

The Spirit did well in transitions and on counters but were often unable to put the ball away. Washington possessed the ball, but, similar to Orlando, become very direct when the Spirit entered into attacking areas.

Hatch’s goal was the only one in the first half, as it ended 1-0. Orlando had slightly more possession (54%), but its struggles in the attacking half resulted in no shots on target. Orlando had three total shots — Emslie had two blocked, and Edmonds had an attempt that went out closer to a throw-in than a goal kick. Almost all of the Pride’s possession was in their own half, among the defenders. The Spirit had five shots, but the only one hitting the target was Hatch’s goal.

Burdett made her first career save in the 58th minute. Tiffany McCarty took a shot from distance, and the keeper tipped the ball over the bar.

“[Burdett is] going to make some mistakes, she’s a baby coming into the league,” said Skinner. “I’m pleased with her. For the pressure she’s under to in play in her first NWSL game, congratulations to her. Although she made a couple of mistakes she’ll learn from those and grow into a better goalkeeper.”

Minutes later, Thomas doubled the lead. The Pride turned the ball over, and Washington took full advantage. Thomas’ low shot went right by Burdett, but the rookie probably should have done better with it. 

Play slowed down again after the second goal. Orlando still tried to build from the back, but with a little more urgency. They got down into the final third a few times but were not able to get any good looks.

Sydney Leroux made her second appearance of the year in the 74th minute. Upon her entrance, the crowd was the loudest it was all game, and the energy seemed to shift.

That energy did not last long, though, and McCarty got her goal in the 85th minute. She took a shot from distance and chipped Burdett as the Spirit went up 3-0. 

Orlando is now winless in the last six matches, and is on a four-match home losing streak. Washington had more shots (12-8), shots on goal (7-3), and corners (4-2). Possession was dead even with 50% each, but Orlando’s possession was almost entirely in its own half.

“I just feel like tonight we didn’t play with any urgency, or any Pride…and it showed with the result,” Edmonds said. “[Next week is] our last game, last chance to get three points. And we’re home so it’s last chance to show the fans that we appreciate them and leave it all out there for them.

“But first, I think we play this game because we love it and I felt like we lost it tonight. You have to want to play for yourself first, and if you’re not having fun we’re not going to play well. So I think we have to go back to why are we playing soccer in the first place and find that love again. If we can do that next game and go out and just have some fun it’ll show in our play.”

The Pride close their season out next Saturday when they host Reign FC at 7:30 p.m.


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