Connect with us

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More



Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-3-1, 1 point) host the North Carolina Courage (2-0-2, 8 points) in the club’s final home game of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. While the Pride have already been eliminated from the tournament, the Courage currently lead the East Division.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of tonight’s game.


The Pride and Courage have played 16 times since the Courage relocated from Rochester, NY, to Cary, NC, in 2017. In that time, the Pride are 3-9-4 (3-8-1 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-1-1 in the NWSL Challenge Cup). North Carolina has won seven of the last 12 meetings and has outscored the Pride, 37-15.

This is the second meeting between the two teams this year. The first came on March 26 in North Carolina. The difference was a 61st-minute penalty conversion by Merritt Mathias after Gunny Jonsdottir was called for a handball. While the Courage won 1-0, the bigger moment came early in the game when Marta went down injured. She tried to continue playing but it was later revealed that the Pride captain suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the 2022 season.

Prior to the most recent meeting, the teams played three times last season. The first came on May 22 in North Carolina. Sydney Leroux gave the Pride the lead in the 36th minute and Alex Morgan doubled the advantage in the 79th minute. Jessica McDonald got a consolation goal for the hosts in the 88th minute but the Pride came away with a 2-1 win.

They then met on July 4 in Orlando. Debinha gave the Courage the lead just three minutes into the game and Havana Solaun doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 66th minute. The Pride were unable to respond as they fell 2-0. The rubber match was on July 31 in Cary. Leroux gave the Pride the lead in the 50th minute. But Brittany Ratcliffe equalized for the Courage two minutes later, securing a 1-1 draw.

The three meetings prior to the 2021 regular season were all tournament games and all draws. In the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, the teams played to a scoreless draw in North Carolina. They also met twice during the 2020 Fall Series. The first was another scoreless draw in Cary. The second saw the Pride come back from a 3-0 deficit at halftime to draw 3-3 with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran.

The three match-ups between the Pride and Courage in 2019 were one-sided for the North Carolina-based side. A 5-0 demolishing in North Carolina on Apr. 17 was followed by a 3-0 drubbing on June 1 in Orlando. The Pride did score a goal in the final match-up that year through Rachel Hill, but were still thoroughly outplayed in a 6-1 defeat.

Like 2019, the Pride lost all three games against the Courage in 2018. However, those games were closer. The first was a wild 4-3 affair on May 23, 2018. The Courage took a 3-1 lead before Alanna Kennedy and Hill pulled even. But McDonald netted the winner for the Courage in the 90th minute. North Carolina dominated the next two games with 3-0 wins.

The first season that the Pride and Courage met was in 2017. The first-ever meeting was on Apr. 29, 2017, which the Courage won 3-1. The second game saw the Pride snap a 12-game losing streak, winning 3-1. The final meeting that year came in the last game of the season. Goals by Edmonds, Marta, and Kennedy bested a Lynn Williams brace as the Pride won 3-2.


Tonight, the Pride will play their final home game of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. It’s been a rough tournament for the Orlando-based side. After holding the defending NWSL champion Washington Spirit to a scoreless draw in the opener, the Pride have dropped three straight and have scored just one goal.

While the team has had three straight losses, only the most recent game has been out of hand. The first loss was the March 26 1-0 loss to North Carolina. The Pride played much better in the following game at home against NJ/NY Gotham FC, ending with more possession, shots, and passes. However, Midge Purce’s 86th-minute goal gave the visitors a 1-0 win.

The most recent game was the toughest one for the Pride. After holding the Spirit scoreless in the first game, Washington dominated the Pride at Audi Field. Ashley Sanchez and Andi Sullivan gave the Spirit a 2-0 lead just before halftime and Ashley Hatch made it 3-0 four minutes into the second half. Gunny Jonsdottir got one back for the Pride but it ended 4-1 to the Spirit.

The Pride now welcome the team that sits atop the East Division in the 2022 Challenge Cup. The Courage started their tournament strong, coming away with a 2-0 win over Gotham FC and a 1-0 win over the Pride — both at home. They followed those games with a 2-2 draw in Washington and a scoreless draw in New Jersey.

The Courage are led offensively by their Brazilian star, Debinha. The 30-year-old forward has scored two of the team’s six goals in just three games. Only half of the Courage’s goals this year have been assisted and two of those assists have come from former Pride defender Carson Pickett.

“We expect a lot of the same (from the last match). They’re a team that doesn’t change much from their tactics with a box midfield and their two-front,” Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell said of the Courage. “They’re a challenge because nobody really plays with that system, so we’re watching a lot of video in preparation of their last couple games and especially our game. I know we can do a lot better from the last result in terms of how we can play better and get more of the ball.”

The Pride have suffered several injuries during this tournament, which will give some of the younger players a chance at significant minutes. Players out for this game include Caitlin Cosme (D45), Viviana Villacorta (right knee), Marta (knee), Erin McLeod (right knee), Leroux (left achilles), and Parker Roberts (right ankle). Additionally, Angharad James is on international duty with Wales.

Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Megan Montefusco, Kylie Strom.

Midfielders: Erika Tymrak, Celia, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Mikayla Cluff.

Forwards: Darian Jenkins, Leah Pruitt.

Bench: Kaylie Collins, Abi Kim, Julie Doyle, Chelsee Washington, Carrie Lawrence, Gunny Jonsdottir, Kerry Abello, Amy Turner.

North Carolina Courage (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Katelyn Rowland.

Defenders: Carson Pickett, Abby Erceg, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias.

Midfielders: Debinha, Denise O’Sullivan, Meredith Speck.

Forwards: Jaelene Daniels, Kiki Pickett, Taylor Smith.

Bench: Rylee Baisden, Jorian Baucom, Marisa Bova, Katie Bowen, Emily Gray, Kerolin Nicoli, Diana Ordonez, Brianna Pinto, Ryan Williams.


REF: Alyssa Nichols.

AR1: Melissa Gonzalez.

AR2: Ben Rigel.

4TH: Melinda Sopka.

How to Watch

Match Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.

TV: None.

Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (International).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along @ManeLandSean and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).

Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Ally Watt to New Contract

The Pride have signed forward Ally Watt through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed forward Ally Watt to a new contract. The deal runs through the 2025 NWSL season and includes a mutual option for 2026.

“Over the last couple years, we have really seen Ally grow both on the field and off. She has worked incredibly hard to be the fittest she has been in her career, and it shows through the impact she brings to our front line,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Ally brings great competitiveness to the forward position on our team, while also being a great influence on our team culture. We’re excited for her to continue pushing herself and her teammates to be the best versions of themselves, and to have her continue as a vital part of what we are building.”

The Pride initially acquired Watt in a trade with OL Reign (now the Seattle Reign) on Aug. 15, 2022 in exchange for $125,000 in Allocation Money. The Watt trade was among the first that indicated the Pride were ready to begin dealing the assets they acquired for some of their older talent traded following the 2021 season.

Watt made her debut for the Pride on Aug. 20, 2022, coming on for Julie Doyle in the 64th minute of a 2-1 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC. She scored nine minutes later to create the dream debut for her new club, earning a new deal at the end of the season that kept her with the Pride through 2024. In nearly two years in Orlando, Watt has made 46 appearances (18 starts) in all competitions, recording 1,958 minutes, six goals and two assists. She also scored the fastest goal in team history, converting after 39 seconds on Sept. 17, 2023 against the North Carolina Courage.

So far this season, Watt has made 15 appearances with seven starts, recording 657 minutes. She has scored two goals and added an assist. Her most notable game this year was on May 1, when Pride Head Coach Seb Hines switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2, teaming Watt with Barbra Banda. Watt scored the opener and assisted on Banda’s second goal in a 4-1 win over the Courage.

“We’re building something very special here in Orlando and I am grateful that I get to continue to be a part of it,” Watt said in the club’s press release. “I feel I have only grown since I’ve been here, and I’m more than excited to keep developing my game. This team and organization are my family, and staying here in Orlando to play in front of some of the best fans makes me so happy. Vamos Pride!”

Watt was initially selected with the ninth overall pick of the 2020 NWSL Draft by the Courage out of Texas A&M. She played professionally in Australia for Melbourne City before joining North Carolina for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. However, she tore her ACL minutes into the first game, sidelining her for an extended period.

The Courage traded the speedster before the 2021 season to the Reign, where she made five appearances after returning from injury. She became a regular in 2022, playing in 21 of the Reign’s 22 games, recording a goal and an assist, before being dealt to the Pride.

What It Means for Orlando

Whether she starts with Banda in a 4-4-2 formation or comes off the bench later in the game, Watt has proven to be a valuable part of the Pride’s success since joining the club. Injuries were a concern since she’d had a previous ACL tear, but she’s remained healthy and has continued to be one of the fastest players in the NWSL.

The forward is already having her best season with the team this year, and there are still 10 games left in the regular season. With Banda away at the Olympics, Watt should get plenty of time starting during the upcoming NWSL X Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup, providing valuable minutes.

While this signing provides depth at the forward position, Watt also has the versatility that Carter and Hines crave. In addition to playing striker, Watt’s speed has been utilized on the right side of the midfield before, matching the similarly fast Doyle on the left for a dangerous pairing. Her attributes make this signing an expected one as the Pride look to build on their historic season.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Viviana Villacorta to New Contract

The Pride have signed defensive midfielder Viviana Villacorta to a new one-year contract with a mutual option for a second year.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Viviana Villacorta to a new contract. The one-year extension keeps her in Orlando through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

“Viv has shown she has the potential to be one of the best midfielders in the league but has been unable to fully showcase that due to last season’s late injury,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Despite the setback, she has persevered, put in the work to get back on the pitch, and has remained an incredible teammate throughout the entire process. She has proven to be a difference maker when on the field, and we are looking forward to seeing her return soon.”

The Pride selected Villacorta with the ninth pick of the first round in the 2021 NWSL Draft. She decided to play her final season at UCLA but tore her ACL in the first game against Pepperdine, ending her collegiate career and delaying her professional debut.

Villacorta finally made her debut on May 1, 2022 against NJ/NY Gotham FC, replacing Gunny Jonsdottir in the 72nd minute. She soon became a regular starter under former head coach Amanda Cromwell and continued that role for Seb Hines, earning a new two-year contract on Dec. 7, 2022. During the 2022 and 2023 seasons, the defensive midfielder made 36 appearances (30 starts), recording 2,475 minutes and an assist. Unfortunately, the injury bug wouldn’t let her go.

The 25-year-old injured her ankle on Aug. 26, 2022 against OL Reign, requiring surgery and forcing her to miss the final five games of the season. Villacorta returned to her starting role for the 2023 season and almost made it through the entire year injury-free. But she tore her ACL again in a late-season training session, resulting in her missing the final three games and being placed on the season-ending injury list for 2024. Despite the setbacks, the Pride still feel she can contribute when healthy and have shown that belief with a new contract.

“I am so grateful for the club and staff for believing in me and giving me this opportunity,” Villacorta said in the club’s press release. “To be able to continue my journey with this incredible group of people supporting me, means the world. Orlando has been home for the past three years and I can’t wait to get back out on the field and give everything I have.”

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Villacorta made 72 appearances for UCLA with 60 starts, recording seven goals and 16 assists. She was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List in 2020 and was Second-Team All-Pac 12 in 2018 and 2019.

Internationally, Villacorta represented the United States at the youth levels and started in the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride made three significant moves to build depth in the defensive midfield this season, signing Luana, Angelina, and Morgan Gautrat. However, Luana was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma early in the season and Gautrat is 31 years old and has spent a lot of time on the injured list, so the Pride need defensive midfielders next season.

Villacorta has yet to prove that she can stay healthy, suffering severe injuries each year since being drafted. Despite these setbacks, she’s shown her ability while on the field. The two Pride head coaches in that time saw her as a regular starter and spoke highly of her skillset. If she can stay healthy, Villacorta can be an essential part of the Pride lineup moving forward.

While Villacorta might not return to action until 2025, the Pride want to see how she’ll fit in with this team when healthy. The one-year deal isn’t very risky as the team has built plenty of depth at all positions. If she can remain uninjured throughout the 2025 season, the club will likely pick up her option and possibly offer another extension. With the uncertainty of Luana’s absence, that could be key for the team’s future success.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

How to Win the NWSL Shield

Comparing the Orlando Pride and other 2024 NWSL shield contenders to previous winners.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

“We want to win the shield.”

That was the answer Orlando Pride defender Kerry Abello gave when asked what the team’s goals are for the rest of the 2024 season. She didn’t just stop there, adding that the team wants to win the NWSL championship as well. “We have proved that is our potential and we plan on going for it.”

There is little doubt that the Pride are now the favorites for the shield after defeating the Kansas City Current on the road (while down a player for more than half the game) in their final match before the Olympic break. The shield is the trophy awarded to the team with the highest point total after the regular season, while the NWSL championship is awarded to the team that wins the playoffs.

The shield is often considered a better indicator of best team from a given season, as it requires solid performances over the full season and not the final three games. With 16 matches played and 12 to go, the Pride are the only undefeated team in the league and they boast a three-point lead at the top of the table. Looking at the 10 NWSL shield winners to date, a clear picture emerges on what it takes to turn Orlando’s goal into a reality.

The Pride defeating the other shield hopefuls is a big part of why they’re in such a strong position just past the halfway point in the season. The matches against their peers in the table are sometimes called “six-pointers” because the points gained by the Pride are subsequently lost by their opponents. While Orlando won both road matches against Kansas City and the Washington Spirit, the return home matches against those opponents on Sept. 13 and Oct. 6, respectively, will be just as important as the season gets closer to the end, as will the two matches still to come against defending champion NJ/NY Gotham FC, currently in fourth.

Beyond the big matches, the NWSL is a league known for its parity, and any match can pose a challenge. Take, for example, the 2023 shield-winning San Diego Wave, who were able to claim the trophy with just 37 points, a tally already surpassed the 2024 Pride. In 2023, the gap between the teams at the top and bottom was so small that Orlando missed the playoffs with only six fewer points than the wave, and the last-place Chicago Red Stars were only seven points behind the Pride.

To put the current NWSL season into historical context, the graph below shows the points per match won by each prior shield winner, compared to the Pride, Current, and Spirit this season.

First and foremost, the graph above shows that the 2024 Orlando Pride are on pace to break the record for points in a season. That record was set by the 2018 North Carolina Courage team that earned 57 points en route to winning both the shield and the NWSL championship. Considering that Orlando is on pace to surpass that record, it is impressive that both the Current and the Spirit are almost stride for stride with the Pride and performing better than the average shield-winning squad as well.

Looking at historic shield winners and runners up, the competition in the NWSL is clear. The average gap between first and second place in the table over the past 10 seasons is just five points. In the past three seasons, the league was even closer, with gaps of two, one, and two points from 2021 to 2023, respectively. With four points currently separating first and third position in this season’s table, the trend of tight finishes is likely to continue.

Despite the similar records by the best teams this season, they are each racking up points in different ways. Kansas City has built a reputation based on a high-powered attack and willingness to simply outscore opponents. Orlando, on the other hand, has a defense-first mindset coupled with enough star power from Barbra Banda and Marta to win matches more pragmatically. Washington, for its part, lies somewhere in the middle, neither leading the league in attack nor defense but winning matches nonetheless. Reviewing how past teams won the shield can identify important themes for shield-winning sides, even though it doesn’t guarantee how the current season will play out.

Below, goals scored and conceded per match are plotted for previous shield winners to see how they won their trophies. The 2024 Pride, Current, and Spirit are added to assess the current shield race.

When it comes to attack, the Current are on another level entirely, leading all clubs in goals per match at 2.5. This performance, if it continues, would lead to the highest scoring season in league history. However, the plot once again shows the strength of the NWSL in 2024. Despite a clear offensive leader in Kansas City, the other teams fighting for the 2024 shield are well above average for prior winners and more than capable of scoring enough to win matches.

Between the points, goals, and goals conceded per match, it is the latter where the most clear differentiation can be seen. With only 0.75 goals conceded per match, the Pride’s defensive strength in 2024 is not far behind the best performing defenses in league history. Of their opponents, the Spirit have defended well this season, but not to the level of prior shield winners, and Kansas City is well below the defensive metrics of prior winners. 

In the first 10 seasons of the NWSL’s existence, only the Seattle Reign in 2015 conceded more than one goal per match on average and won the shield. Out of all that have done it, four led the league in both goals scored and fewest conceded. Three additional teams boasted the best defense, but only one team — again, Seattle in 2015 — scored the most goals without having the best defense, showing the limits to an attack-first approach.

Taken together, the prior seasons of the NWSL show that having a strong defense has been the most reliable path to an NWSL shield. Compared to the previous winners, the Orlando Pride have one of the best defenses in league history. They pair this strong defense with a potent attack exceeding the output of a typical NWSL shield-winning side. This combination has the team in first place in the table and on pace to win the shield with one of the highest point tallies of all time. 

Nothing can be taken for granted, however; Orlando’s opponents this season are setting records of their own and plan to push the Pride to the final weeks of the season. The Pride just need to keep their focus on the match in front of them. So far, they have shown the talent and the belief required of a shield-winning team, and the way to secure the trophy is to keep playing they way they did to get here.

Continue Reading