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Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Final Score 1-1 as Pride Claim Point in Final Challenge Cup Game

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The Orlando Pride (0-4-2, 2 points) held off a furious second half attack by NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-2-3, 6 points) to claim a 1-1 draw in their final 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup game. It’s the team’s second point of the tournament and ends a four-game losing streak.

Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell made several changes to the team from its 4-2 loss to the North Carolina Courage last week. Kaylie Collins made her Pride debut in goal after Anna Moorhouse started the last three games, and Kerry Abello got her first start for the team. Additionally, Gunny Jonsdottir and Angharad James returned to the starting lineup after the former started from the bench against the Courage and the latter was away on international duty.

After Gotham sent the opening kickoff long to Collins, the Pride dominated possession early. However, it was the hosts that got the early chances on goal. Kristie Mewis took the first shot from 35 yards out and Ifeoma Onumonu created a second chance in the eighth minute. But both attempts were at Collins for her first two professional saves.

A scary situation occurred in the fourth minute when Jonsdottir went down injured after a collision. The Pride have already lost Marta for the season and Sydney Leroux and Erin McLeod suffered injuries during the Challenge Cup. Fortunately, Jonsdottir was able to recover and return.

As Jonsdottir ran back onto the field in the 10th minute, the Pride prepared to take their first corner of the game. James’ corner found the head of Jonsdottir inside the six-yard box and the midfielder put it past Ashlyn Harris for the game’s first goal. It was the first time the Pride had led in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup.

“It was a great ball from Ang,” Jonsdottir said about the goal. “All I had to do was just redirect it. So credit to her.” 

The Pride scored four goals in this year’s Challenge Cup with all coming in the first 15 minutes of a half. However, the team continued pressuring Gotham throughout the half, even if it didn’t result in more goals.

In the 15th minute, James found Leah Pruitt in the box. In her second straight start, Pruitt tried to get her head to the ball, but it was a little too high. Four minutes later, Pruitt sent a ball into the box for Jonsdottir. Unfortunately, the ball was just behind her and Gotham was able to clear.

In the 25th minute, Toni Pressley attempted a half volley from the top of the box that was deflected out of play for a Pride corner kick. That was the first of four consecutive corner kicks for the Pride as they kept the pressure on in the Gotham third of the field.

The Pride’s inability to finish those opportunities nearly cost them five minutes later. In the 32nd minute, the defense was unable to successfully clear the ball, resulting in a scramble in the box. Eventually, Onumonu got her foot to it but sent the ball wide of the right post.

Gotham had a shout for a penalty in the 39th minute when Celia made contact with Paige Monaghan in the box. The Gotham attacker threw her arms into the air as the referee waved his finger back and forth, indicating that there was nothing in the tackle.

Monaghan took out her frustration about the call on the other end by taking down Abello. However, this decision gave the Pride a golden opportunity with a free kick near the top of the Gotham box. Three potential takers were standing over the ball, with Pressley eventually taking the free kick. She took a strong shot but it was well high of the target, causing no trouble for Harris.

After being denied a penalty six minutes earlier, Gotham got their spot kick in the 45th minute. Onumonu carried the ball into the box along the end line and Pressley picked her up during the run. As the two got tangled, Onumonu went down and the referee pointed to the spot.

It was the fifth time that Pressley has conceded a penalty since joining the Pride in 2016. The second most number of penalties conceded in Pride history is Ali Krieger’s two.

Mewis stepped up to the ball and, after a few deep breaths, directed the penalty kick toward the left corner. Collins guessed the right direction, but the shot was just beyond her reach, evening the game at 1-1.

Four minutes into first half injury time, Gotham nearly took the lead. Onumonu turned Pressley near the top of the box and fired toward the far corner. The ball got beyond Collins’ outstretched arm, but skipped just past the post, allowing the Pride to reach halftime tied.

“It’s hard that we concede a goal right before half,” Jonsdottir said after the game. “But that’s the game. We had to keep our focus and we could have gotten one. It still could have gone either way.”

The game was quite even in the first 45 minutes. Gotham had a slight lead in possession (50.6%-49.4%) and both teams had eight shots. However, the Pride had more corners (7-1), crosses (19-7), duels won (21-19), and tackles won (6-4). Gotham had more shots on target (3-1), passes (191-172), and better passing accuracy (73.3%-69.2%).

“I was really confident heading into halftime,” Cromwell said after the game. “And there’s times we’ve come out and been good in the second half when we’ve had a poor first half.”

While the game was pretty even in the first half, the second 45 minutes was all Gotham. The attack by the hosts started early and they maintained the pressure throughout the final period of play.

The two most dangerous players for Gotham were Kumi Yokoyama and Monaghan. In the 50th minute, Yokoyama sent a dangerous ball across the box, but it was just beyond the reach of both Onumonu and Monaghan.

Five minutes later, it was Monaghan who sent a cross into the box. The ball was a bit too high for Onumonu, but the striker was able to get the top of her head on it and redirect it to the top of the box. The ball went straight to a waiting Yokoyama, who half-volleyed it toward goal. It appeared to be blocked by Jonsdottir on the way out of play but the referee issued a goal kick.

In the 60th minute, Yokoyama had another chance closer to goal. Her shot from the right wasn’t hit well and headed toward the center of the box. While Gotham players were awaiting its arrival, Collins responded quickly, coming out to collect it.

In the 64th minute, Abello shielded Caprice Dydasco to the left of goal. She attempted to send the ball past Harris, but the former Pride captain made herself big and blocked the shot with her left foot.

A minute later, the Pride’s rookie goalkeeper showed that she was equal to the task. McCall Zerboni sent Onumonu between Megan Montefusco and Pressley, giving the Nigerian international a breakaway on goal. While Abello used the wrong foot to shoot, the more experienced Omumonu attempted to curl it around Collins. But the rookie did well to come off her line to make the stop.

Gotham came inches away from taking the lead again in the 78th minute. Catching the Pride defenders too far up field, Mewis sent a long ball to Monaghan who got behind the defense. Before Pressley could catch up, Monaghan took a hard shot from the left of goal. The ball beat Collins but slammed off the crossbar.

The strength of the shot allowed it to reach Nahomi Kawasumi on the other side. The hosts immediately worked the ball around, looking for another chance. Less than a minute after hitting the post, quick passing by Gotham resulted in a Monaghan cross into the six. Mewis beat the defenders to the ball and redirected it on goal, but Collins made a great reaction save, blocking it away.

While Gotham got most of the chances, the Pride did have some periods of play in the second half. In the 81st minute, Courtney Petersen sent Kylie Strom into the box. The substitute found Abi Kim, but her shot was right at Harris.

Two minutes later, Darian Jenkins attempted to lose Dydasco and free up some space to shoot on goal. The defender did well to stay with her and, when Jenkins finally did shoot, Dydasco was in place to block it.

As time wound down, the Pride were fiercely defending, trying to claim their second point of the Challenge Cup. Meanwhile, Gotham was full of confidence and kept up the attacking pressure.

In the 87th minute, Monaghan found Cam Tucker streaking behind the Pride back line. The substitute’s first touch was a shot from the top of the box, but it sailed well high of the goal. A minute later, it was Tucker looking to connect with a teammate. She sent a cross into the box, but Pressley was there to clear it away for a corner kick.

The final good chance for Gotham came in the 90th minute. Mewis found Monaghan darting behind the Pride defense and Monaghan sent a cross toward Onumonu. But Pressley stepped in front and cleared it away.

Unfortunately, the ball fell right to Mewis who continued her run after the initial pass. The U.S. international took the ball to the right, cutting down her angle, but found some space between two defenders. The ball got past Collins but skipped wide of the far post, allowing the Pride to see out a difficult draw.

In the end, Gotham ended up dominating possession (56.1%-43.9%). However, the other statistical categories showed the game to be quite close. Gotham led in shots (16-14), total passes (484-368), and passing accuracy (76.7%-66.8%), but the Pride had more corners (8-4) and both teams put four shots on target.

“It was a tale of two halves,” Cromwell said about the game. “And that happens in our game sometimes. And that’s what you have to do, get a second to really get the momentum. Take the wind out of their sails a little bit.”

“Some of these players haven’t played a full 90 and they’ve been kind of coming off the bench as reserves,” Cromwell added. “So we knew there was gonna be some tired legs in the second half.”

The big difference in the game was the fact that Gotham was unable to get most of its shots on frame. After putting three of eight shots on target in the first half, the hosts only put one of nine shots on target in the second half.

The fact that the Pride only gave up one goal in this game is a positive heading into the regular season. After strong defensive performances in the first three games, the team had given up four goals in each of the last two contests.

“It was definitely a rough second half,” Jonsdottir said. “They were pretty much down our throat most of the second half but our back line and everyone on the field gave everything to jump in front of every shot, to block crosses, do everything we could to keep it from going into the net. And we succeeded. I think that’s a win for us. Conceding four in the last two games, I think the team can be really proud. We gave everything to not concede more.”


After a tough preseason tournament, the teams will now look ahead to the more important regular season. With the Challenge Cup now behind them, both teams will fly to Orlando and meet again next Sunday at Exploria Stadium.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns FC: Final Score 2-1 as Barbra Banda Brace Lifts Pride to Eighth Straight Win

The Pride used a Barbra Banda brace to defeat the Portland Thorns 2-1 for their eighth straight win.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride (8-0-3, 27 points) won their record-setting eighth straight game by defeating the Portland Thorns (6-4-1, 19 points) 2-1 tonight at Inter&Co Stadium. Barbra Branda’s first-half brace gave the hosts a 2-0 lead that they took into the second period of play. The Thorns got one back through Izzy D’Aquila, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride claimed all three points.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes to the starting lineup that beat the Seattle Reign 3-2 on Sunday. Morgan Gautrat returned to the lineup, replacing Ally Lemos, and Julie Doyle replaced Summer Yates, who was out with an illness.

The back line in front of Anna Moorhouse remained the same with Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams. Gautrat and Haley McCutcheon were in the defensive midfield behind Doyle, Marta, and Adriana with Banda up top.

It was a slow start to this game as the two teams tried to find ways to break down the opposition in the first 10 minutes. However, the Pride dominated the remainder of the first half, taking a 2-0 lead into halftime. The Thorns made two halftime changes and it made a difference as they created more chances than in the first 45 minutes. They got a goal back in the 71st minute and nearly scored on multiple other occasions. But the Pride were able to hold on.

The Pride had the first decent attack of the game in the 10th minute. It started with an excellent long ball across the field from Rafaelle to Doyle and the midfielder’s cross was blocked by Becky Sauerbrunn. The ball landed at the feet of McCutcheon and she attempted a shot, but Hina Sugita was there to block it. The Pride recirculated the ball, resulting in Adriana finding Marta at the top of the box, but the captain’s attempt was blocked by Kelli Hubly.

In the 17th minute, a bad touch by Christine Sinclair enabled Rafaelle to take possession and find Marta at the top of the box. The Brazilian fired from distance and the ball bounced off the chest of Thorns goalkeeper Shelby Hogan for the first save of the game.

Marta took another shot in the 24th minute when Doyle lifted the ball over a pair of defenders, looking for her teammate on the far side of the six-yard box. It was far enough for Marta to control and get a shot off, but Hubly stayed in front and blocked the attempt.

In the 26th minute, Adriana played a great ball forward to Banda, enabling her to get into the box. Hubly got in front of the striker and defended her well, knocking the ball out of play. Marta’s ensuing corner kick was cleared out, but only to Abello who played it back outside for Marta. The captain found Strom with space in the box, but the center back’s shot was wide of the target.

The Pride won another corner kick in the 29th minute and this one resulted in the game’s opening goal. Abello’s cross was cleared behind goal by Hubly for a corner kick. Marta took the set piece, sending it to the far side of the six-yard box. Gautrat got her head to it, sending the ball to the center of the box. Rafaelle’s shot on goal was blocked, but the ball went right to Banda, who put it in to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.

Immediately after the goal, the teams went to the sidelines for a hydration break. When play resumed, the Thorns got their first chance of the game. It came from a mistake when a pass back to Rafaelle was misplayed, enabling Olivia Moultrie to take over. The teenager took a couple of dribbles before shooting, sending the attempt straight to Moorhouse.

In the 35th minute, Janine Beckie made a run down the right and attempted to play Moultrie behind the Pride defense. Moultrie had a step on Rafaelle, but the pass was too close to Moorhouse, enabling the Pride goalkeeper to collect it.

The Pride doubled their lead in the 40th minute when Marta sent a long ball forward for Banda. Dribbling into the Thorns box, Hubly caught up with the striker and blocked her initial shot. However, Banda recovered, dribbled around Hogan, and touched the ball in for an easy second goal of the night.

The goal saw Banda net her third brace of the year and her second brace in two games after she scored twice against the Seattle Reign on Sunday. It was her eighth goal of the season, tying her for the league lead with Sophia Smith. However, while Smith has scored eight goals in 10 games, Banda has done it in seven.

“I’m so happy to be part of that. I’m happy to help her score goals because, at the end of the day, it’s good for the team,” Marta said about Banda’s brace. “We were missing some players like that a few years ago, and we created a lot of chances, but most of the chances didn’t result in goals. This year, we have her here, she showed up from the first game, and really, really wants to help this team. She showed hunger every single game. And, for us, it’s very good because she’s fast, she’s strong, and then we just need to find a pass.”

“Building that chemistry has probably happened quicker than we might have thought,” Hines said about the chemistry between Banda and Marta. “But she finds a way and it’s brilliant to see. Even the second goal today, you would feel like the chance is gone but she finds a way to find the back of their net.”

After scoring twice, Banda nearly got an assist in the 43rd minute when a pair of defenders closed her down, leaving McCutcheon free to her right. The defensive midfielder controlled the ball and shot, but it was too close to Hogan.

The Thorns got their second shot in the second minute of first-half stoppage time when a long ball into the box was cleared by Abello. The clearance went right to Jessie Fleming, who quickly shot, but it was well over the target.

The final chance of the first half came a minute later when Rafaelle was called for a foul on Sugita. It gave the visitors a free kick in the Pride’s final third, their first set piece of the game in a dangerous position. Sam Coffey sent the ball into the box and Sauerbrunn got her head to it, but sent the redirection over the goal. The halftime whistle blew immediately after the miss, sending the Pride into the locker room up 2-0.

At halftime, the Thorns had more possession (54%-46%) and better passing accuracy (85%-83%), but the Pride had more shots (14-3), shots on target (13-1), corner kicks (3-0), and crosses (10-5).

“We had mentioned that two halves are never the same. 2-0 is a very dangerous score line as well,” Hines said about his halftime message. “The next goal can be the defining factor.”

Right after the halftime whistle, Banda went down and rubbed her leg. As a result, Hines made one halftime change, replacing Banda with Ally Watt.

The Pride had the first chance of the second half in the 52nd minute when Doyle played McCutcheon to the end line and Coffey knocked the ball out of play. The first corner kick by Marta was blocked back to her and her second cross was knocked out of play by Sinclair. The second corner kick found the head of Rafaelle beyond the back post, but her header was high and wide of the target.

The Thorns quickly went the other way off the goal kick with Moultrie sending Beckie down the right. The midfielder played a great ball to Sinclair, who had gotten behind Rafaelle, but her attempt to redirect the ball on target was unsuccessful, sending it over the crossbar.

In the 56th minute, Doyle sent a long and low ball forward for Watt. The speedy striker beat Sauerbrunn to the pass and sent a shot towards goal, but right to Hogan.

Two minutes later, Adriana used some crafty footwork to beat Nicole Payne and shot for the near post. She felt that Hogan had blocked it out for a corner kick, but referee Ekaterina Koroleva determined that the ball went directly into the side netting and issued the Thorns a goal kick.

It appeared as though the Pride would have a corner kick in the 60th minute when Marta sent a dangerous ball towards goal. It looked like Hogan pushed the shot wide, but Koroleva said Marta was the last to touch it, much to her dismay.

Marta caused more havoc for the Thorns defense on the left, beginning with a dangerous cross in the 65th minute. She was looking for Watt, who was making a diagonal run to the near post. But Sauerbrunn beat her to it and cleared the ball out of play.

A minute later, Marta was played forward on the left and sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal. Watt made the slightest of touches, attempting to redirect inside the far post, but didn’t get enough on it and the ball went out of play.

On the other end, the Thorns had a chance in the 68th minute when Beckie played a nice through ball, sending D’Aquila behind the back line. The substitute’s first touch was a shot, but Moorhouse did well to come out and block the attempt.

Shortly after the stop, Hines made his second change of the game. Cori Dyke came into the game for Doyle.

The visitors got a goal back in the 71st minute through a nice individual effort by Moultrie. The U.S. international beat her defender to the end line and found D’Aquila wide open in the box. It was an easy finish for the substitute, cutting the Pride lead to 2-1.

The Pride’s third substitution came in the 76th minute. It was a defensive move as Brianna Martinez came into the game for Gautrat.

Watt went down in the 79th minute and required attention from the Pride medical staff. In the meantime, the players went to the benches for water and instructions. When Watt was up and play resumed, Ana Dias sent a dangerous ball towards the back post. D’Aquila was in the area, but couldn’t get on the end of it.

A minute later, Sugita created enough space to send the ball towards goal. Moorhouse initially looked like she would have to make a stop, but the ball curled away and went out for goal kick.

The Thorns came close to equalizing in the 84th minute when Moultrie lifted the ball forward. Dias was between Rafaelle and Strom, but got her head to it. Moorhouse was indecisive about whether to come out and it nearly cost her. Fortunately, the header was off the crossbar and the Pride were able to clear.

The final two changes for the Pride came in the 87th minute. Ally Lemos and Amanda Allen entered the game for Abello and Adriana.

In the 90th minute, Lemos pulled Sugita back while the Thorns midfielder looked to enter the Pride box. She was issued a yellow card and Portland had a free kick in a dangerous position. Moultrie sent the set piece towards the far post where Dias met it with her head. However, the attempt was wide of the target.

The fourth official showed five minutes of second-half stoppage time, but the Thorns couldn’t take advantage. The only shot came in the fifth minute when Moultrie took a shot from outside of the box. McCutcheon blocked the attempt and the Pride won the game 2-1.

At full time, the Thorns had more possession (55%-45%) and crosses (22-17) with better passing accuracy (84%-81%). The Pride had more shots (22-13), shot on target (16-6), and corner kicks (7-2).

“Listen, they’re a top team. They were six games unbeaten coming into this game,” Hines said about the game. “They should be looking at the top of the table with the roster that they have. They’ve got internationals all over, they’ve got players who have won the league as well. So it was always going to be different in that second half. And I think how we started the second half, we started a little bit surprised.”

“I thought after that first 10 minutes for the second half, we settled, we started moving the ball really well,” he continued. “We also created some really good opportunities to score as well. And I think if we had got that third goal, we probably would’ve put our minds at rest towards the end. But this team thinks deep. You know, to get it over the line towards the end, that’s really, really encouraging and it’s something that we’ve done all season which is pleasing that we didn’t stop that today.”

The Pride win snapped a six-game winning streak by the Thorns and was the Pride’s eighth consecutive win, setting a new NWSL record. However, the Pride have bigger things in mind as they contend for the first trophy in team history.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hines said about the record. “I’ll be honest, it’ll probably be short lived because we’ve got bigger goals we’ve set this season and objectives that we want to reach this season. But yeah, of course it’s a nice feeling. It’s great to do it in front of our fans, our home fans who have supported us through the tough times and just glad that we’re rewarding them for their support by having this record and setting a new record for the NWSL. But a lot of credit has to go to the players and the support staff because, without them, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this today.”

“Proud,” McCutcheon added. “ I think I even said that tonight from last year to this year. We knew we were building something special but just to have something in the history books is something that I didn’t think would happen so soon. And so yeah, we’re thrilled but we’re not satisfied. We want to keep pushing for the ultimate goal at the end of the season.”

Much was made about the Pride going after a new league record heading into this game. However, they’re still looking to maintain their spot at the top of the NWSL standings.

“I think it’s about mentality more. Keep a hard mentality, very strong,” Marta said about the team moving forward. “And, like I say, we need to keep on playing our way, make our way, find a way when we don’t have it together. And we can’t start to think about the other teams. We need to think about ourselves. We need to repeat every single thing that we did good in this game. And improve, improve more and more. Don’t be satisfied.”


The NWSL will take a break next weekend for internationals before returning the following weekend. The Pride will take the field next on June 7 when they travel west to take on San Diego Wave FC.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride look for a league-record eighth straight win as they welcome the Portland Thorns to town.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (7-0-3, 24 points) welcome the Portland Thorns (6-3-1, 19 points) to Inter&Co Stadium. This is the first of two times these teams will face off, with the return game in Oregon scheduled for Oct. 11.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.

History

The Pride have struggled historically against the Thorns, with a record of 3-13-2 in 18 games (3-12-2 in league play and 0-1-0 in the playoffs). They’re 2-5-2 in Orlando against tonight’s opponent, all in regular-season matchups.

The most recent meeting between the two teams came on June 11, 2023 in Orlando. Sophia Smith gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute, but the Pride took over after that. Adriana scored a brace and Messiah Bright’s 69th-minute strike lifted the Pride to a 3-1 win.  On March 26 at Providence Park, Morgan Weaver and Smith opened the scoring inside 22 minutes. Hina Sugita made it three, and Michele Vasconcelos wrapped up the scoring as the Thorns won 4-0.

The teams met twice in 2022, with the first coming on Sept. 9 at Exploria Stadium. Yazmeen Ryan gave the visitors the lead and Sugita doubled the advantage as the Thorns won 2-0. That was the second meeting of the season after the teams met on June 19 in Portland. In Seb Hines’ second game as interim head coach, the Thorns smashed the Pride, 6-0.

The teams met earlier in the year during the 2021 season, playing on May 26 in Orlando. The Pride won for only the second time against Portland since the team’s inception. The Pride won 2-1 and Orlando’s goals came from Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux.

The second meeting that year came on July 18 in Portland, and the home team won again. Smith gave the hosts the lead and Marissa Everett doubled the advantage. Marisa Vigginao got one back in second-half stoppage time, but it wasn’t enough as the Thorns won, 2-1.

They met a third time on Aug. 14. The Pride took an early lead when Courtney Petersen found Jodie Taylor for the opening goal. But Simone Charley equalized and the teams drew 1-1.

The Pride and Thorns didn’t play in 2020 after the season was canceled due to the global pandemic and they weren’t in the same group for the NWSL Fall Series. As a result, the most recent meeting prior to 2021 was in 2019.

The teams opened the 2019 season against each other in Orlando, but the Thorns got the better of the clash. The game was decided on either side of halftime as Caitlin Foord scored just before the break and Tobin Heath scored four minutes after the restart, lifting their team to a 2-0 win. They met again in Orlando on May 11 and the visitors won again. Toni Pressley gave the Pride an early lead, but it was all Portland after that. Dagny Brynjarsdottir equalized, Andressinha gave Portland the lead, and Foord finished it off.

The final meeting between the two in 2019 was a goal fest in Portland and another Thorns win. Hayley Raso gave the visitors the lead just three minutes into the game and Midge Purce’s goal made it look like it would be a dominant performance by the hosts. But Marta got one back to make it 2-1. Christine Sinclair made it 3-1, followed by a Thorns own goal by Emily Menges. It looked like the Pride would get a rare point through Erin Greening’s 90th-minute goal, but Tyler Lussi scored in second-half injury time, dooming the Pride to another loss in Oregon.

The teams faced off three times in 2018, which featured the Pride’s lone win in Portland. The Thorns won the first game, 2-1 on April 15. But on May 12, goals by Morgan and Christine Nairn gave the Pride a 2-0 lead. Sinclair got one back for the hosts, but the Pride held on for their only result at Providence Park. The third meeting went back to usual, with the Thorns winning 2-0 through Lindsey Horan and Raso.

The teams started the 2017 season against each other in Portland with the Thorns winning 2-0. They met again in the penultimate game of the season in Orlando, ending in a scoreless draw. The most important game between the two teams was the Pride’s only playoff appearance. Unfortunately, it was all Portland, as the Thorns beat the Pride 4-1.

The first meeting of 2016 was the Pride’s first-ever game. Steph Catley gave the visitors a surprising lead, but Brynjarsdottir equalized and Horan won it for Portland. They met again on June 26 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Two second-half goals by Brynjarsdottir and Horan lifted the Thorns to another 2-1 win.

Overview

The Pride are currently the hottest team — not just in the NWSL this season — but in league history. After drawing their first three games, they’ve won an astounding seven straight. Their 3-2 win over Seattle Reign FC Sunday tied the league record for most consecutive wins in NWSL history. Tonight, they’ll look to set a new league record and maintain their place atop the league standings.

Prior to last weekend’s win, the Pride had won back-to-back 1-0 games against Racing Louisville and Bay FC, both at home. In the team’s six home games this season, it has only scored multiple goals once, a 4-1 win over the North Carolina Courage on May 1. Despite the lack of goals at home, the Pride have drawn twice and won four times.

Standing in the Pride’s way of a new NWSL record are the Portland Thorns, a perennial powerhouse in the league. Once again this season, the Thorns are a team to be reckoned with. While they’re not at the top of the standings, they’re currently fourth and five points behind the Pride. Portland has a streak of its own, winning their last six. This will be the first match in NWSL history between two teams that are each on a winning streak greater than four games.

As expected, the Thorns are one of the best offensive teams in the league. Their 23 goals rank second behind the Kansas City Current. While they’re less successful defensively than the Pride, both teams have a positive goal differential of nine, second best in the league.

The biggest attacking threat for the Thorns is Smith, whose eight goals and six assists lead the team. Olivia Moultrie and Janine Beckie are tied for second with three goals, Sinclair, Payton Linnehan, and Sam Coffey have two goals each, and Weaver, Sugita, and Ana Dias have all scored one so far this year.

While the Thorns have conceded 14 goals this season, they gave up five in the opening game of the season against the Current. Since then, they haven’t given up more than two goals in a game, something that has occurred three times. Fortunately for the Pride, they’ve shown an ability this season to win low scoring and high-scoring affairs. They’ll need to continue that tonight in order to win their eighth straight game.

“It’s two teams who are on a winning streak and two teams that want to continue that winning streak as well,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said about tonight’s game. “Listen, it’s a big game for us. It’s going to be a tough game for us. Portland are one of the best teams in this league. You look around their roster, they’ve got internationals all over. So it’s a good challenge for us and we’re embracing it. Every game we’re embracing it. And it will be nice to do it in front of our home fans on Friday.”

The Pride have one addition to tonight’s availability report. Angelina (knee), Celia (hip), Simone Charley (leg), Luana (illness), Megan Montefusco (heel), and Viviana Villacorta (knee) are joined by Summer Yates (illness). The Thorns will be without Gabby Provenzano (Achilles), Bella Bixby (maternity leave), and Morgan Weaver (knee).



Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Sams.

Defensive Midfielders: Morgan Gautrat, Haley McCutcheon.

Midfielders: Julie Doyle, Marta, Adriana.

Forward: Barbra Banda.

Bench: McKinley Crone, Ally Watt, Amanda Allen, Ally Lemos, Mariana Larroquette, Alex Kerr, Carrie Lawrence, Brianna Martinez, Cori Dyke.

Portland Thorns FC (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Shelby Hogan.

Defenders: Marie Muller, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelli Hubly, Reyna Reyes.

Midfielders: Hina Sugita, Jessie Fleming, Sam Coffey.

Forwards: Olivia Moultrie, Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie.

Bench: Emily Alvarado, Isabella Obaze, Meghan Klingenberg, Nicole Payne, Olivia Wade-Katoa, Payton Linnehan, Marissa Sheva, Ana Dias, Izzy D’Aquila.

Referees

REF: Ekaterina Koroleva.
AR1: Matthew Rodman.
AR2: Joe Suchoski.
4TH: Wes Caouette.
VAR: Karen Coulson.
AVAR: Maggie Short.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV: Bally Sports Florida.

Streaming: NWSL+.

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


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Seattle Reign FC: Final Score 3-2 as Pride Rebound in Second Half for Seventh Straight Win

The Pride outlast Seattle Reign FC 3-2 for their seventh consecutive win.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (7-0-3, 24 points) continued their undefeated start to the season with a 3-2 win today against Seattle Reign FC (2-7-1, 7 points). The Pride took an early 2-0 lead with goals by Emily Sams and Barbra Banda, but the hosts came back with goals from Angharad James-Turner and Bethany Balcer. Banda’s second of the day in the 58th minute proved to be the difference as the Pride won yet again.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes to the lineup that beat Bay FC 1-0 last Saturday. Ally Lemos and Marta entered the lineup, replacing Morgan Gautrat and Julie Doyle. While Doyle started the game on the bench, Gautrat wasn’t in the team. The back line in front of goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse was Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, and Sams. Haley McCutcheon and Lemos were in the defensive midfield behind Summer Yates, Marta, and Adriana, with Banda up top.

It looked like the Pride would run away with this one when they took a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes and appeared to have scored a third. However, the Reign didn’t give up and scored on either side of halftime to make it 2-2. Unlike previous years, the Pride didn’t fall apart after losing the lead and found a winner from their star striker. It was another one-goal affair — their sixth in seven wins — in which the Pride had to hold on for dear life as they attempted to see out the victory.

The Reign got off to the more aggressive start, creating two chances inside the first three minutes. In the second minute, Tziarra King blocked a clearance attempt and it went to Jess Fishlock. The midfielder played the ball across to former Pride midfielder James-Turner, who shot on goal. It was heading inside the post, but Moorhouse did well to get down and collect it.

A minute later, Ji So-Yun sent an aerial ball across the field for Balcer, who quickly played it wide for Sofia Huerta. The right back found Fishlock in the box and the Welsh international attempted a first-touch shot, but she couldn’t get solid contact, sending the ball well off target.

The Pride got their first chance of the game in the seventh minute when Reign goalkeeper Laurel Ivory got a little too cute with the ball. Attempting to dribble around pressure, her clearance was blocked, ending up at the feet of Banda. The Pride’s leading scorer’s first touch was a shot, but she sent the attempt over the crossbar.

Two minutes later, the Pride grabbed the lead. It started with a long ball down the right for Marta. The Pride captain sent it to the top of the box, where Yates brought it down, but a defender got a foot to it. Fortunately, it went right to Sams, whose first touch was a shot inside the post to give the Pride an early 1-0 lead.

“I just wanted to support the play,” Sams said about her goal. “And it just happened to fall to me and I just took my chance and I scored.”

Since Sams played primarily as a center back last season, she hasn’t had many opportunities to score. However, Hines has deployed her as a right back at times this year, including in this game, and, as a result, she scored her first NWSL goal.

“She finished it like a forward as some would say,” Hines said about the defender scoring her first goal. “Em has done brilliant in having to shift into a new position and she’s embraced it. I think sort of her one-v-one defending’s been brilliant recently and so she gets her reward for going up and supporting the attack, and it’s a lovely finish with her left foot. So yeah, it was a great goal from Em. And if she continues to play that position at right back, maybe there’s a few more down the stretch of the season.”

The Pride’s attacking Brazilians tried to combine for a chance in the 13th minute when Adriana sent a cross into the box for Marta. She got her head to the ball and tried to redirect it on goal, but wasn’t in front of the net at the time. As a result, the header went wide.

The Pride doubled their lead in the 18th minute when a poor clearance was intercepted and sent forward for Adriana. The playmaker used some fancy footwork to create space for a cross, sending it across the face of the goal. Ivory could only get her fingers to it as the ball got past her. Banda was left wide open near the back post and simply headed the ball in to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.

In the 25th minute, King tried to catch Moorhouse by surprise after receiving the ball from Balcer. The attacker took a shot from distance, but Moorhouse was able to block it to her side. It was a good stop as the shot was taken from the shadows and into the sunlight.

Balcer had a great chance for herself in the 26th minute when King found her on the far side. The forward outmuscled Abello to get in on goal, but Moorhouse came out strong. Balcer got a shot off, but right into Moorhouse. The attempt bounced off Balcer and out for a goal kick, ending the threat.

The Pride put a third ball in the net in the 31st minute when Marta sent a long ball across the field for Yates. The midfielder took on Lauren Barnes, beating the defender. However, Barnes left a foot out, tripping Yates and giving the Pride a free kick.

The ensuing set piece was sent into the Reign box where Banda got a slight touch to it, but not enough to send it on goal. Instead, it popped up for Strom to get her head on it and give the Pride a 3-0 lead.

Before the game could restart, the video assistant referee called down for referee Elijio Arreguin to take a closer look. After further review, Arreguin determined that Banda was offside on the initial ball as she attempted to get behind the back line, disallowing the goal and keeping the game 2-0.

Moorhouse was forced into another save in the 36th minute when the ball was tipped off of Ji’s foot. It went directly to Fishlock well outside of the box and the midfielder took a long attempt at goal. The shot appeared hard to see, but the Pride goalkeeper tipped it over the crossbar for a corner kick.

The ensuing set piece was cleared out but only to James-Turner, whose shot was aiming for the top corner. Moorhouse wasn’t going to get to the attempt, but it was just over the target.

In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, King attempted a shot from inside the Pride box that was blocked by Rafaelle. The Reign retained possession and a long ball was sent into the box for Balcer. However, it was too far ahead of the forward, who pushed Sams into Moorhouse and was booked.

It looked like Adriana would have a chance to get on the scoresheet a minute later when she received the ball in the box from Banda. The Brazilian attempted to cut back and lose Huerta, going down in the process. There was some contact, but the referee determined it wasn’t enough and the Reign were able to clear.

During the final minute of stoppage time, the hosts got a goal back. Ji sent a pass to the top of the box, where James-Turner met it. The midfielder took a shot that likely would’ve been saved by Moorhouse, but it deflected off Strom and went into the corner of the goal, cutting the Pride lead to 2-1.

That was the final attack of the half. After 45 minutes, the Reign had more possession (54%-46%), shots (8-4), shots on target (6-2), and corner kicks (2-1), as well as better passing accuracy (82%-80%). But the two goals and some good goalkeeping by Moorhouse had the Pride leading at the break.

“Just get closer to our opponent. I think we gave them a little bit too much space. And then tactically, offensively, he told us to do a better job of finding Barbara on the front line,” Sams said about Hines’ halftime instructions. “And I think if we’re able to keep the ball more, we don’t really have to worry about the defending side so much if we can keep it and keep adding goals. So that was kind of the halftime talk.”

Hines made one halftime change, replacing Yates with Doyle.

The goal just before halftime seemed to spark the hosts as they began the second half on the attack. In the 46th minute, King received the ball on the left, shielded her defender, and attempted to send the ball across the face of the goal. However, Moorhouse was able to block it away. The Pride were unable to clear the ball and Ji gained possession. The South Korean shot from distance, but it was off target.

A minute later, the Reign found the equalizer. It started in the Pride box when halftime substitute Shae Holmes won the ball from Banda and sent it forward. Two passes later, Fishlock sent a long ball to Balcer behind the Pride’s back line. The forward lifted the ball over Moorhouse to even the game at 2-2.

The hosts continued their attack and created another shot in the 51st minute. It was Ji again creating space and attempting a shot from long range. However, it was blocked and the Pride gained possession before it got close to Moorhouse.

The Pride created their first good chance of the second half in the 54th minute when Olivia Van der Jagt fouled Marta. The Pride captain took the set piece, sending a dangerous ball into the box. It somehow went through several players before going out for a goal kick.

In the 57th minute, King knocked the ball out of play while trying to shield it from Lemos. The Pride rookie took the corner kick, which was punched out wide by Ivory. It went right back to Lemos, who sent in a shot that went over the arm of Ivory and off the crossbar. The ball was sent out of play by a Reign defender and the Pride had a corner kick on the other side.

The second corner kick was taken by Marta and headed through by Alana Cook. However, it didn’t get very far, enabling Banda to get her foot on the ball. The defense gave the star striker too much space and Banda turned to score her second goal of the game, taking back the lead for the Pride.

The Pride nearly doubled their lead in the 62nd minute through their captain. Banda made a good run down the right, beating her defender, and sent a cross into the box. It was a little behind Marta, but she was able to get her foot around the ball and put it on target. Ivory made an excellent save with her foot to keep it out of the net and her team’s deficit at one goal.

Hines made his second change in the 63rd minute and it was a defensive one, as Cori Dyke came in for Adriana.

In the 73rd minute, Lemos committed an unnecessary foul on Phoebe McClernon, giving the Reign a free kick in a dangerous position. Ji played it short for Huerta, who sent the ball towards the far post. It looked like the ball was going out of play, but stayed in. It resulted in a shot that was blocked and the Pride were able to clear.

A Pride throw-in in the 75th minute resulted in an interesting situation as Abello sent Banda down the left. Cook was unable to keep up with the striker, but pulled her back and then put her studs into Banda’s stomach. Banda required medical attention, but was able to continue. While the play was checked for a possible red card, it wasn’t given.

When Banda got up, Hines made two more changes. Brianna Martinez and Ally Watt came into the game for Marta and Lemos.

After being booked late in the first half, Balcer received her second yellow card in the 83rd minute. Upset with a foul call, she approached the referee while her team made a substitution. Arreguin clearly wasn’t happy with what she said, giving her a second yellow card and a subsequent red card. As a result, the Reign had to finish the game with 10 players.

The Pride had chances to make the player advantage pay off. In the 88th minute, they had a three-on-three, but Abello lost control before she could play one of her teammates on either side of her. In the 90th minute, Banda made a strong run and had Watt to her right. Unfortunately, the pass was too soft and the Pride lost possession.

The Pride made their final change after the missed opportunity as Amanda Allen entered the game for Banda.

The Pride did well defensively to limit opportunities, but the Reign had a good chance in the seventh minute of stoppage time. A long ball into the box by Cook was headed out by Sams, but only to Emeri Adames. The substitute had plenty of space to shoot from just outside of the box, sending the attempt over the target.

That was the last chance for either team as the Pride held on for their seventh straight win and their first in Seattle. At full time, the Reign had more possession (52%-48%), shots (15-8), and shots on target (10-6), with better passing accuracy (81%-80%). The Pride had more corner kicks (4-2), crosses (18-14), and most importantly, outscored the Reign 3-2.

“I thought the first 43 minutes of the game, we were really good. I thought we played some terrific football, playing between the lines, caused a lot of problems, and to concede so late on in the first half is something that we need to reflect and review moving forward,” Hines said about the game. “And then the second half, I mean it was a grind. It was great determination. Going through that adversity as well. conceding so early on in the second half, to come back and get that third goal was really important for us.”

“I think the first half was definitely the better half. I think we did well, got those two goals, but letting in the goal at the very end, I think kind of gave them some momentum,” Sams added about the performance. “And then I think the second half we kind of let our standards drop and we had to fight for that win. We got the win and that’s amazing (and) shows our character. So obviously we’re satisfied with that.”

The win extends the Pride’s winning streak to seven games — the longest in team history — and ties the league record held by, coincidentally, the Seattle Reign in 2014. Their unbeaten run extends to 10 games and they move into sole possession of first place after the Kansas City Current drew yesterday.

“It’s a great feeling to have that record and it just shows the world how strong we are,” Rafaelle said about the seven straight wins. “A lot of people doubted us in the beginning of the season. Now, we’re proving that we’re a good team and we have a good chance to win the shield, but also we want to break the record. We’re going to play at home next game. We’re going to try everything to win that game and break the record.”

Additionally, this is the first time that Pride have ever won a game in Washington. The two teams have now faced off nine times in the Evergreen State and the Pride are 1-5-3 all-time. It’s another first in what is quickly becoming the best season in team history.


The Pride will look to break the NWSL record for consecutive wins, remain unbeaten, and stay in first place Friday night when they host the Portland Thorns.

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