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Orlando Pride at Portland Thorns: Final Score 2-1 as Pride Are Dominated on the Road



The Orlando Pride (4-3-4, 16 points) fell 2-1 to the Portland Thorns (6-3-1, 19 points) in a game they were never really in. The Thorns dominated the game but failed to convert on most of their chances.

The Pride displayed the most unique back four so far this season. With Phoebe McClernon recovering from an injury and Ali Riley with New Zealand for the Olympics, Amy Turner and Kylie Strom received their first starts for the Pride. Other than those two changes, the lineup was pretty much as expected.

The first half hour of the game was all Portland, with the Pride unable to maintain any possession. While the Pride defense was able to intercept passes into the box, more often than not they would immediately give it back to the Thorns for another chance.

The Thorns nearly opened the scoring in the 21st minute by forcing an own goal. Rocky Rodriguez found Morgan Weaver in the box. Gunny Jonsdottir was able to deflect the pass, but the deflection got past Ashlyn Harris and nearly into the corner of goal. Fortunately for the Pride, it hit the post and Turner was able to clear it.

While the Pride was able to clear the danger, it went right back to the Thorns and they responded with three great chances. First, Weaver was sent through and nearly had a shot but Turner beat her to the ball. Seconds later, another dangerous ball was sent through but Courtney Petersen sent it out of play.

In the 24th minute, Kelli Hubly found herself with a golden opportunity. Celeste Boureille found Hubly alone at the top of the six. With only Harris in front of her, the defender sent a shot toward goal but it soared over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, the Thorns finally broke through with a wonderful individual effort. Sophia Smith was able to win the ball in her own third and carried it all the way to the Pride’s box with little resistance. Her long-distance strike beat Harris to the near post for the game’s opening goal.

The Thorns nearly scored a second in the 33rd minute when Smith found Marissa Everett in the box. It would’ve been a breakaway on goal but Everett was judged to be just offside. It was a break for the Pride as replays appeared to show Everett was even with the defender and VAR isn’t used in the NWSL.

In the 38th minute, a poor challenge in the box by Strom gave Meghan Klingenberg the opportunity to go down. Rodriguez stepped up to take the penalty but it was poor and Harris was able to get down to make yet another penalty save.

The penalty save seemed to wake the Pride up a little as they quickly created a couple of chances. In the 36th minute, Sydney Leroux sent a dangerous cross into the box but it was just a bit high for Jonsdottir. In the 42nd minute, Petersen found Leroux in the box but her header was just over the crossbar.

A head injury to Taylor Kornieck extended injury time and the Thorns nearly took advantage. Nine minutes into added time, Smith was sent through on goal. Harris came off her line and forced Smith into a poor shot that traveled wide of the goal.

“First half we weren’t near it in terms of tackling, we weren’t near it in terms of game plan,” Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the game. “It was a poor half from us, the first half. It took us too long to react.”

The start of the second half was similar to much of the first half with the Thorns dominating. They had a couple of blocked shots at the top of the box before an errant shot gave the Pride the ability to clear via a goal kick.

After very little action around her net, Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby was finally forced into action in the 52nd minute. Crystal Thomas made a nice run to the end line and sent a cross into the box. It was intended for Abi Kim, who had come on for Erika Tymrak at halftime, but Bixby came off her line to catch it.

After several chances, the Thorns were finally able to double the lead in the 58th minute. The initial free kick was cleared, but it went right to Klingenberg, who sent it right back in. Weaver beat Turner to the ball inside the six and headed it on goal. Harris got a hand to it, but it wasn’t enough as the ball was deflected into goal.

Weaver was a headache for the Pride all game long and nearly created a third goal for the Thorns in the 71st minute. A great run allowed her to find second-half substitute Yazmeen Ryan at midfield. Ryan was behind the Pride defense with only Harris to beat but her second touch was far too strong, allowing the Pride goalkeeper to collect.

Three minutes later, the Pride had a great opportunity to get back into the game. A nice cross by Petersen found the head of Kornieck at the top of the six-yard box. Kornieck directed the ball towards goal, but it went wide of the target, just beyond the outstretched arm of Bixby.

The Pride did end up getting a consolation goal late. Five minutes into the second half’s stoppage time, Kim found Marisa Viggiano at the top of the box. The midfielder’s second touch was a rocket past Bixby, cutting the Thorns lead in half.

“The ball got played down the right flank,” Viggiano said about her goal. “Abi Kim made a great run to get on the end of it. Syd made a great run near post and Abi crossed it. They drew a lot of attention. And I just yelled at her to leave it. I found myself at the top of the box, took a touch, shot it, and it went in.”

The goal was too little, too late for the Pride as they didn’t leave enough time to complete the comeback. The Thorns held possession over the remaining few minutes and defeated the visiting Pride 2-1.

“When we got back into the second half, and once we started to exact the game plan, we found lots of spaces that we needed to occupy and created some chances,” Skinner said about the second 45 minutes. “We started to have some momentum towards the end.”

“It’s an intimidating place to come,” he continued. “It’s a place where the players knew exactly what they needed to do. We were slightly off at moments and paid for that first half.”

Despite the close score, this game was all Portland. The Thorns led the Pride in possession (54.3%-45.7%), corners (12-4), total passes (384-318), shots (20-6), and shots on target (6-2). The Pride did come out on top in duels won (72-50) and tackles won (14-11). But those Pride accomplishments were because they spent most of the game defending.

The Thorns and the Pride entered the game tied at the top of the NWSL, but the result sent them in opposite directions. While the Thorns are now alone atop the league standings, the Pride find themselves down in fifth. The Pride will take the field again next Saturday night when they host OL Reign at 7 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.

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.



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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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.

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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.

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