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Orlando Pride vs. OL Reign: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Fall for Fourth Time in Five Games



The Orlando Pride (4-4-4, 16 points) fell to OL Reign (4-6-1, 13 points) 2-0 at Exploria Stadium tonight. An early goal in each half by the visitors saw the Pride lose their fourth in five games and extend their winless streak to five straight (0-4-1).

In Carl Green’s first and only game as head coach of the Pride, he made some changes to the starting lineup. As expected with the absence of Ali Riley, Ali Krieger moved into her former right back position. This was also the first game that we saw the new partnership of Phoebe McClernon and Amy Turner. Regular starting left back Courtney Petersen moved into the defensive midfield and Jodie Taylor made her Pride debut, starting up top with Sydney Leroux and Taylor Kornieck.

The Pride got off to a better start than they did in Portland Sunday night, creating multiple chances inside the first five minutes. In the opening seconds, Petersen found Leroux at the back post but a poor first touch got too far away.

The Pride had another good chance in the fifth minute when Krieger found Kornieck in the box. The tall attacker got her head to the ball and directed it toward the far post, but it was just wide of the target.

The Reign woke up after those two chances and began to put the Pride on their back foot. In the seventh minute, the Reign were given a golden opportunity when McClernon sent an ill-advised ball back to Ashlyn Harris. With attackers closing in, the Pride goalkeeper fell on it and the referee immediately called for a Reign indirect free kick inside the box.

It was an uncommon scene as the Pride placed 10 players on the goal line and the 11th player at the top of the six-yard box. The defensive strategy worked as Harris made the initial save, the Reign had another shot blocked and the Pride were able to clear.

Three minutes later, another defensive miscue gave the Reign another golden chance. Krieger lost the ball near the right touchline, allowing Tziarra King to take possession with space at the top corner of the Pride box. King found Jessica Fishlock, who also happened to be wide open, and the midfielder put it past Harris for the opening goal.

The Pride did have several chances, primarily with Petersen and Krieger looking for Kornieck or Leroux. However, the majority of those balls were just off the mark, allowing the Reign to clear.

A controversial moment occurred in the 39th minute when Taylor sent a long ball for Leroux on the opposite side. The assistant referee immediately called her offside, though replays appeared to show that Leroux was onside. The NWSL doesn’t have VAR, so the decision was final.

“I felt we had a really challenging moment in the game and we should’ve had a goal, which was wrongfully disallowed,” Green said about the play. “Certainly, from the iPad replay that I was watching. And you know, we all know goals change games. We come in at halftime, level, you know it’s a completely different second half.”

The Pride did get another opportunity in the 45th minute to equalize. Marisa Viggiano sent a ball across the box, which Reign goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi came out to collect. However, the goalkeeper missed the ball and it fell to Petersen on the far side. The defender playing in the midfield shot on the open goal but the ball was struck poorly and flew back across the box, ending the chance.

The Reign doubled their lead in the 51st minute and it came from another Krieger giveaway in her own end. Attempting to dribble out of trouble, Krieger lost the ball to Eugenie Le Sommer, who quickly found King at the top of the box. The ball was well struck by King, beating Harris to the far post.

Eight minutes later, it appeared as though the Reign would get their third goal. Le Sommer received the ball in the box and got behind Turner. The Pride center back attempted to win it back as Le Sommer charged in on goal, but the late tackle from behind caused Le Sommer to go down and referee John Matto pointed to the spot.

There were questions about whether Turner actually got the ball. As Harris was receiving treatment prior to the penalty, Turner appealed to the referee to watch the replay on the video board. But the decision had been made.

Whether it was the delay or Harris’ recent success with penalties, it was a poor attempt by Fishlock. It was at a perfect height for Harris, who was able to block the shot for her fifth consecutive penalty save.

A bad giveaway by Turner gave the Reign another great opportunity in the 69th minute. The center back was too nonchalant with the ball, allowing Bethany Balcer to challenge her. Attempting to avoid the turnover, she played it softly in front of Le Sommer, giving the French striker a golden chance. However, Krieger did well to get her body on Le Sommer in the box, forcing her to take a poor touch wide of the goal.

Just 10 minutes later, Green made an attacking sub as the Pride looked to get back into the game. As Abi Kim came on for Kylie Strom, the Reign mounted yet another attack. Substitute Balcer set up Sofia Huerta at the top of the box, with the latter firing on goal. It was a low, strong shot on target, but Harris was able to get down and make the one-handed save.

While the Reign dominated the chances in the second half, the Pride did have some opportunities to get back into the game. In the 74th minute, Marisa Viggiano sent a lovely ball towards the head of Kornieck. The midfielder got her head to it but sent it over the crossbar.

They had another good chance in injury time when a Meggie Dougherty Howard free kick flew into the box. Gunny Jonsdottir headed it on for Kim, who was charging on goal, but she was unable to control it. The ball bounced off her chest and went wide of the post. That was the final chance for the Pride as they fell 2-0.

“For starters, I want to say I’m really proud of this group,” team captain Harris said after the game. “We fought to the very end. And even though we didn’t get the result, and that’s clearly disappointing, I’m very proud of the way the team has reacted to this week and the last few weeks.”

The possession in this game was quite even, with the Reign holding a slight advantage (50.8%-49.2%). The teams also had an almost identical number of passes, with Pride completing three more (388-385). The difference in this game was the number and quality of chances created by each team. The Reign dominated the Pride in shots (18-7) and shots on target (12-0). If not for the 10 saves made by Harris, the final score could’ve been much worse for the hosts.

“I think overall structure,” Harris said about the team’s lack of chances created in the game. “And preparation is key. I don’t know that we’ve necessarily been prepped and I think confidence is based on preparation. And I think we’re lacking that.”

The loss sees the Pride continue their current slide, which includes four losses in five games. It’s a shifting situation with new ownership taking over this week and a new interim coach arriving in the near future to replace Marc Skinner, who resigned on Friday.

“I’m looking forward to someone coming in with new energy and new guidance, a new perspective to help carry this team for the rest of the season,” Harris said about the coaching change. “Because we have an incredible group of female players, an incredible staff and ownership.”

“These kids have been tremendous,” Harris said of her teammates. “They have had a tough week, to say the least. And they showed up every single day and they put their head down and they wore it like professionals.”

While it was a tough week for the players, it was also tough for Green. Skinner’s immediate departure meant that Green, who had also resigned, would lead the team for the only time against the Reign.

“I think what they showed was togetherness as a set of players,” Green said about the team. “You look at the end of that game and how hard they worked for each other. And the spirit they showed. I just think it will bode so well for the team going forward for the rest of the season.”

The Pride will look to rebound next Saturday when they travel to North Carolina to take on the Courage at 7 p.m.

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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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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