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Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Final Score 3-0 as Pride Drop NWSL Regular Season Opener

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The Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) began their 2022 NWSL regular season tonight with a 3-0 loss to NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-0-0, 3 points) at Exploria Stadium. The visitors scored three goals in 11 minutes late in the first half to seal the game before halftime. McCall Zerboni, Midge Purce, and Kristie Mewis accounted for the scoring and the Pride remain winless in NWSL regular-season openers (0-4-2).

Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell displayed almost the exact lineup that drew Gotham FC last weekend in New Jersey. The only difference in the lineup was the return of starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod, who missed the last four games of the Challenge Cup due to an injury. Sydney Leroux and Erika Tymrak also returned from injury but started the game on the bench.

The Pride won a corner in the seventh minute when Estelle Johnson cleared the ball out of play. But rather than creating a dangerous chance on the set piece, the Pride took a short corner toward midfield, which was quickly won by Ifeoma Onumonu. The Gotham striker appeared to have a breakaway into the Pride half, but Celia did well to catch her and clear it away.

Gotham got its first chance on goal two minutes later when Mewis found Purce to the left of goal. The dangerous attacker fired a shot but missed to the left. Purce had a chance to set up a chance in the 13th minute when she sent a dangerous ball into the box, but this one was cleared away.

A minute later, Imani Dorsey sent a cross into the box that ended up more like a shot. The ball sailed toward the Pride goal, forcing McLeod to tip it over the crossbar for another Gotham corner.

After about 10 minutes of dominant play by the visitors, the Pride started to find their way into the game. It started in the 17th minute when Angharad James found herself with the ball at the top of the box. She took a shot but it was blocked.

The ensuing corner ended up with Mikayla Cluff at the top of the box. The rookie took her own shot at goal but it rolled wide of the target.

In the 20th minute, Leah Pruitt sent a ball into the box from the right looking for Gunny Jonsdottir in front of goal. The midfielder slid into the ball, redirecting it towards the far post. However, it went just wide and another excellent Pride chance went by.

Two minutes later, Kerry Abello sent a low cross into the box looking for Jonsdottir. The ball just missed the midfielder and Gotham goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris was able to clear it away.

Then it was Darian Jenkins sending a dangerous ball into the box for Abello. The two midfielders were the best attacking players for the Pride in the first half and nearly connected for the first goal but it was just beyond Abello’s reach.

The Pride seemed to be the closest to scoring as the half hour mark neared, but that’s when Gotham took over. A bad giveaway by Cluff in the 28th minute allowed Onumonu to take a long distance shot. But McLeod was up to the task and made the save.

The ensuing corner kick resulted in the game’s first goal. Mewis took the set piece, sending the ball into the box. It found the head of Gotham captain Zerboni, who redirected the ball on goal, giving Gotham the lead.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to score their second. Off a throw-in, Dorsey sent a long ball behind the Pride defense. Purce beat Toni Pressley to the ball, gaining a breakaway on goal. The veteran kept her cool, dribbling around the oncoming McLeod, and placing it inside the far post.

The Pride did get a couple of opportunities following Gotham’s second goal. In the 35th minute, James sent a free kick into the box but it was over everyone. Three minutes later, quick passing by Jenkins and Pruitt allowed the latter to get off a cross. However, it was blocked away and the Pride were unable to get a shot.

Gotham effectively put the game away in the 41st minute. Purce sent a cross into the box that reached Mewis on the far side. The U.S. international’s second touch allowed her to avoid the coming Megan Montefusco and provided space to shoot. The shot was toward the far post where it beat McLeod and nestled into the net, making it 3-0 Gotham.

“It definitely is hard,” Pruitt added about the three quick goals. “I think I tried to just forget about it and move on and we had the momentum in the beginning, so it sucks to get a goal against and then to try to switch it and stay positive and keep going down their throats. But once you get another one it’s draining. And the third one really was a heartbreaker. But I think we did fine in the second half.”

The first half wasn’t as lopsided as the score line. Gotham had more possession (54.3%-45.7%), but both teams had six shots. The primary difference was that the visitors put four of their six shots on goal and the Pride only got one on target.

“We had some of our best building moments out of the back and created some chances early on the first 30,” Cromwell said after the game. “I think right before their first goal, we had some chances. Again, we can’t let one goal affect us.”

“I think it would have been a way different game if we finished those chances in those, like, first 30 minutes,” Pruitt added. “But yeah, we’ve just got to keep working on it and those finishes.”

With a 3-0 lead, Gotham didn’t push much as the second half began. The first chance of the half came in the 53rd minute when Jenkins did well to win the ball in the Gotham half. However, she took a long-distance shot on goal that never really had a chance. It was on target, but Harris had no trouble collecting it.

The Pride had another chance in the 57th minute when halftime substitute Carrie Lawrence sent a free kick into the box. It found the head of Pressley but the header was wide and caused no trouble for Gotham.

A scary moment occurred a minute later. A seemingly innocuous ball for James saw the midfielder reach her leg out for it. After touching the ball, James immediately went down holding her right ankle. While it initially appeared bad, she soon got up and was able to resume.

After an injury kept her out for the final three games of the Challenge Cup, Leroux entered the game at halftime for Cluff. She got her first good chance in the 65th minute when a long ball by Lawrence sent her toward the end line. Leroux pulled the ball back and fired but her first shot was blocked. She immediately gained control of the ball for a second shot, but that one was right at Harris.

The Pride got another good look in the 67th minute when a blocked cross was headed across by Pruitt for Courtney Petersen. The left back had plenty of time to take a shot but not enough accuracy to put it on goal.

The Pride had a great chance in the 76th minute to get their first goal of the season when Jenkins played the ball across for Leroux near the penalty spot. The forward quickly took a shot on goal but it was just over the crossbar.

The Pride’s final chance of the game was also their best. In the 87th minute, Pressley sent a low cross into the box that found Leroux near the penalty spot. It was a little behind the halftime substitute, who tipped it back to James coming across the field. The Welsh international was set up for a clear shot on goal and attempted to curl it around Harris. But the former Pride captain did well to get down and make the save.

With a 3-0 lead at halftime, Gotham was happy to sit back and defend. As a result, the visitors only took one shot in the second half and it was off target. They were outshot 10-1 in the final 45 minutes but were able to keep the Pride off the scoresheet.

In the end, the Pride led in shots (16-7), corners (7-4), crosses (31-12), passing accuracy (82.4%-74.9%), and possession (50.5%-49.5%). However, the most important stat was that Gotham put four of its seven shots on target and the Pride only put four of their 16 shots on frame.

Cromwell has spoken multiple times this year about the team’s inability to put together a full 90 minutes. It was the same tonight, as the team was strong at points but a brief 11-minute period cost Orlando dearly.

“Obviously some frustration with those 10 minutes again and I think Seb (Hines) said very well in the huddle at the end,” Cromwell said. “We can’t let parts like 10 minutes, five minutes of games dictate how our season’s gonna go. We have to play a 90-minute game and we get to do that.

“We’ve talked to sports psychologists. We’ve talked about what kind of resources do they have in the moment. They have to be able to, either as a team, as a cohesive unit, say things to each other. Whether it’s holding each other accountable, make sure we’re still motivated and positive reinforcement, but also have individual tools to keep yourself out of that because I can almost see it happening. There’s a spiral mentally and we just had someone come talk to them about what kind of exercises they can do to get out of those moments. And so I think things aren’t going to happen overnight. But if we’re going to have chances in games to get a result we can’t have one goal be our downfall.”

The Pride’s three goals conceded is the most allowed in a regular-season opener since the team started in 2016.

A positive from the night is that Viviana Villacorta made her professional debut. The 2021 NWSL first-round draft pick (ninth overall) tore her ACL during her final season at UCLA and it’s been a long road back for the 23-year-old.

“She’s worked extremely hard to get back and you can see probably just by her movement, she’s fit,” Cromwell, Villacorta’s college coach at UCLA, said about her return. “She only played 20 minutes, but she’s fit. She’s agile. She’s quick. I think she reads the game very well. So, she’s someone that I think has a sophistication in the midfield to come in and help us and in and out of possession. She’s very dynamic.”


The Pride will look to shake off the season opening loss as they travel west to play expansion side Angel City FC in Los Angeles next Sunday night.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Chicago Red Stars: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Dominate But Fall in Chicago

The Pride dominated from the opening kickoff but couldn’t convert a single chance, falling to the Chicago Red Stars.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (3-5-1, 10 points) ended their four-game unbeaten run in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars (2-6-1, 7 points) Saturday night at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL. Despite the Pride controlling the chances, Yuki Nagasato’s 22nd-minute goal was the difference as the Pride fell for the first time since April 23.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change to the starting lineup that beat the Washington Spirit 2-1 last weekend. Viviana Villacorta exited the lineup in favor of Erika Tymrak, who made her sixth start of the season. Tymrak moved into an attacking midfield role and Kerry Abello played alongside Mikayla Cluff in Villacorta’s place.

The back line in front of starting goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse remained the same with Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Haley McCutcheon. Cluff and Abello were the defensive midfielders behind Abello, Marta, and Adriana with Messiah Bright up top.

The Pride dominated this game from start to finish. Chicago had an early chance and scored its goal, but created nothing beyond two shots. Meanwhile, the Pride kept the ball in the Chicago third for the majority of the game, creating chance after chance. In the end, the Pride should’ve won by multiple goals.

The first opportunity of the game came in the sixth minute when Ava Cook moved outside and found Bianca St-Georges making a diagonal run. The midfielder split Montefusco and Madril, receiving the ball in the box, but her shot was right at Moorhouse. It appeared as though she was offside, so it likely wouldn’t have counted anyway.

The Pride had their first chance of the game in the ninth minute. After receiving the ball from Abello, Bright played it back to McCutcheon and made a long run down the right. McCutcheon quickly played it forward for the sprinting striker. Bright made a long run, knocking it past Tatumn Milazzo and shielding Tierna Davidson before playing it across for Adriana. With a defender in front, Adriana dumped it off for the oncoming Abello, who shot right at Red Stars goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher.

A minute later, the Pride almost opened the scoring when Strom sent a dangerous ball into the six-yard box. Cook got back to defend the back post, heading the ball down but right in front of goal. It went off Arin Wright’s thigh and McCutcheon was able to poke the ball towards the Red Stars’ net, but Naeher was able to keep it out.

Bright took her first shot of the game in the 15th minute. Tymrak played the ball for the rookie, making a diagonal run towards the right sideline. After dribbling into the Chicago box and cutting inside to beat Davidson, Bright’s shot was blocked by Milazzo. The deflection rolled across the top of the six, but Adriana wasn’t close enough to redirect it on goal.

In the 16th minute, a poor St-Georges pass was intercepted by Tymrak, who immediately played Bright up field. The striker made another long run into the Chicago half, passing through Milazzo and Cari Roccaro for Abello making a run up field. Abello had plenty of space behind the Red Stars back line and shot, but it was right at Naeher.

The Pride almost had a great chance in the 20th minute when Marta found Strom to her left and the defender sent a low pass into the box. Adriana was making a run into the six behind Milazzo, but the center back was able to break up the play. If the ball had reached Adriana, the Brazilian would’ve had a free shot on goal.

The Red Stars got the game’s lone goal in the 22nd minute, after Abello fouled Sandra Starke near midfield. Wright took the free kick, sending it wide right for Casey Krueger. The defender cut back to lose Adriana and lifted the ball towards the far post where Nagasato got behind Montefusco, heading it past Moorhouse to give the Red Stars the surprising 1-0 lead.

“I think it came off of us giving the ball away and, you know, that happens and we need to deal with it,” McCutcheon said about the goal. “An uncontested ball in the box and then they just had numbers and we need to do better with our line and do better with marking up.”

The Pride tried to respond quickly after the restart. Abello entered the Red Stars box, but found resistance so she played it back for Strom. The left back quicky played it across for Abello, who fired from just outside of the box, but the low attempt curled well wide of the far post.

Bright had another chance in the 34th minute when Adriana and Tymrak blocked a St-Georges pass that went right to the big striker. The rookie turned Davidson, who slightly blocked the ball, and it went right to Naeher, who made her fourth save of the night.

Chicago had their first real threat after the goal in the 39th minute when Marta turned the ball over near midfield. St-Georges was sent to the end line by Julia Bianchi, but her cross attempt was into the hands of Moorhouse at the near post.

The Pride went the other way with Adriana attacking Krueger one on one. Tymrak sprinted into the box, receiving the ball from the Brazilian playmaker. The veteran midfielder had some space between the defenders and attempted a first-touch shot from near the penalty spot, but mishit it and the ball rolled harmlessly wide.

In the 41st minute, Tymrak took control of the ball after Bright won an aerial duel. Tymrak sent a great cross to the top of the six, where Adriana got her head to it between Milazzo and Krueger. Unfortunately, the Brazilian couldn’t get over the ball and it went over the target.

Despite entering halftime with a 1-0 lead, Chicago only had two chances, the game’s first shot by St-Georges and the goal by Nagasato. Meanwhile, the Pride created eight shots, putting four on target, and should’ve had more opportunities if not for some successful desperate defending by the hosts.

The Pride started the second half where they left off the first. Just seconds after the restart, Starke’s pass attempt was blocked by Motnefusco and chested down by Bright to Tymrak. The midfielder took a long-distance shot beyond the stretched arms of Naeher, but missed the far post.

In the 49th minute, the Pride nearly equalized when Milazzo mishit her clearance attempt, sending the ball towards her own end line, and Krueger helped the ball out of play for a Pride corner kick. Naeher reached out for Adriana’s set piece, but Cluff beat her to it, heading it off the crossbar. Marta attempted an acrobatic shot off the rebound, but Naeher reached back and tipped it off the line to maintain Chicago’s one-goal lead.

The save was Naeher’s 519th in NWSL play, passing former Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris for the most saves in league history.

In the 52nd minute, the Pride almost connected when Strom sent a dangerous ball to the top of the six-yard box. Bright and McCutcheon were both making runs behind the Red Stars back line, but the ball was a little too far in front of both players, going out for a goal kick.

A minute later, Marta sent a curling ball towards the back post, where Adriana beat Krueger. The Brazilians almost connected on the far side, but the ball was just out of the reach of Adriana, going out for another goal kick.

Marta found McCutcheon to her left in the 56th minute making an overlapping run. Cook slid in with an attempt to win the ball, but McCutcheon got past her and lifted the ball into the middle of the box. Tymrak was there, but the ball was just over her head.

The Pride hit the crossbar for the second time in the game in the 59th minute. After receiving the ball on the left from Abello, Adriana took a touch inside and shot before Krueger could get in front of her. The ball was over Naeher, but bounced off the woodwork.

The Red Stars got their first real possession of the second half in the 60th minute. The hosts passed the ball around, looking for their third shot of the game. But the Pride defended it well and Krueger eventually lost the ball to Adriana without Chicago getting a shot off.

The Pride made the first change in the 62nd minute, replacing Bright with Julie Doyle. It was Doyle’s first appearance since she went off in the 23rd minute with an ankle injury against Angel City FC on April 2.

“She’s an exciting player, she’s always active,” Hines said about Doyle. “We felt like it was the right time to bring her in chasing a goal. She’s always on the move, making defenders defend, and it’s nice to have another attacking option come off the bench.”

In the 65th minute, Cluff lifted the ball behind the Red Stars’ back line, where Doyle was calling for it. The striker was challenged by Milazzo, but still got a shot off. Naeher made a great stop with her right shin, but the flag went up for offside.

Cluff created another chance in the 66th minute when she lifted the ball into the box from the right. Adriana chested it down, but lost her balance, allowing Krueger to clear it. However, it went right to Abello just outside of the box. The midfielder used a quick change of pace to beat Krueger and create enough space for a shot, sending it right into the hands of Naeher.

Chicago tried to play the ball out of the back and the Pride continued to apply pressure, nearly creating a pair of opportunities in the 67th minute. After Marta blocked a ball forward, Tymrak and Doyle attempted a give-and-go, but they couldn’t connect the return pass. Quickly winning the ball back, Cluff and Marta attempted their own one-two in the box with the same result.

Controlling possession and chances but needing a goal, Hines made an attacking change in the 68th minute. After making a like-for-like change earlier in the half, forward Ally Watt came on for Tymrak.

Marta used a stepover in the 71st minute to create space from Cook, sending a dangerous ball into the box. Doyle and Watt were making runs towards goal, but the ball was a little too far in front again, going out of play for a goal kick.

The Red Stars felt they should’ve had a penalty in the 84th minute when Ella Stevens, who came on for Starke in the 74th minute, sent Cook into the Pride box. Marta defended her with a shoulder challenge and Cook went down, but referee Rebecca Pagan decided it wasn’t enough for a spot kick and awarded the Pride a goal kick.

The Pride made their final change in the 85th minute and it was another attacking one. This time rookie attacking midfielder Summer Yates replaced left back Strom.

“It shows that we were being more aggressive towards the end of the game trying to get ourselves back in it,” Hines said about the attacking changes. “We felt with the likes of Julie, Ally, Adri, Marta, Summer, we had an opportunity to get back in the game and ultimately win the game in the end.”

A Marta corner in the 86th minute looked to be heading in, but was palmed out of play by Naeher. Adriana took the corner from the other side, but Krueger came up with it and cleared. The Pride players raised their arms because they felt Krueger had handled the ball, but Pagan thought otherwise.

In the 89th minute, Yates made a good run to the top of the box and sent the ball out wide for Doyle. Reaching the ball just before it went out of play, the forward sent a cross into the box. Watt did well with her first touch, bringing it down and setting up a second-touch shot, but sent it just wide of the near post.

The final chance of the game came in the fourth minute of second-half injury time. Marta sent a cross into the box from the left that was headed out by Wright. Yates kept it in and her block went right to Doyle. The second-half substitute had room for a shot, but her first-touch attempt was off her shin and way off target.

At full-time, the Pride led in every offensive statistical category. They had more possession (54.5%-45.5%), shots (18-2), shots on target (6-2), corners (9-0), crosses (29-4), and passing accuracy (81.8%-76.6%). After their 22nd-minute goal, Chicago didn’t create a single chance, but held on for the 1-0 win.

“Disappointed with the result,” Hines said about the game. “You know, it was a great opportunity for us to keep that momentum going. Anytime you play a team like Chicago who are short of confidence, you have to not give them any hope and that’s what we did. We gave them hope by allowing them to score first. But, at the end of the day, you can’t dominate a game the way that we did and not come away with three points and that’s the disappointing thing. The game is built on goals and we didn’t take our opportunities.”

“We played some good football tonight,” McCutcheon added. “The second half, we had them on the back foot the entire half. Even in the first half, there were some good moments, and so we just need to know what we’re capable of and continue to push in training. Continue to reach higher levels as a group, individually, collectively.”

The story of this game is the Pride not putting away their chances. They hit the crossbar twice and had multiple opportunities that missed the target. That’s in addition to the eight shots on frame and excellent goalkeeping by Naeher that kept the Red Stars in front.

“It’s frustrating, of course, because we’re not just talking about half chances, we’re talking about clinical opportunities,” Hines said after the game. “There was some really good deliveries in the box, some opportunities from distance, and I think Naeher probably had the game of her season so far.”

Hines has said several times this year that each game is a learning experience, especially with a young team like the Pride. The recent four-game unbeaten run has shown that they can compete with the top teams in the NWSL, but they need to put away the teams at the bottom of the standings.

“If we want to be a top team competing in the playoffs, we have to win games like this,” Hines said. “So it’s a reminder that we can’t take the foot off the gas. We can’t take anyone for granted. Whether it’s Washington at home in front of our fans or coming away to Chicago sitting bottom of the table. Every game is a tough game in this league. So it’s a reminder that we have to keep going, have to keep fighting and challenging.”


The Pride will finish off their two-game road trip next Saturday night when they take on the Houston Dash in Texas. Then they’ll return home to face the league-leading Portland Thorns at Exploria Stadium on June 11.

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Orlando Pride vs. Chicago Red Stars: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride look to extend their unbeaten run to five games when they visit the Chicago Red Stars.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (3-4-1, 10 points) look to extend their unbeaten run to five games in a road match against the Chicago Red Stars (1-6-1, 4 points) in Bridgeview, IL. This is the first of two games the two teams will play this season, with the return game at Exploria Stadium taking place on Aug. 20.

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

History

The Pride and Red Stars have played every season since the former’s entrance into the NWSL except 2020. The teams have played 15 games, with the Pride going 4-11-1. All four wins have come in Bridgeview, IL, with the Pride having a record of 4-4-0 when playing the Red Stars away from home.

The Pride and Red Stars last met on June 12, 2022 in Illinois. Mallory Swanson capitalized on a Pride turnover in the 10th minute and the Red Stars held on for the 1-0 win. On May 22 in Orlando, Sarah Griffin gave the visitors the lead, and Bianca St. Georges and Swanson made it 3-0 Chicago. It appeared as though the Red Stars would run away with the game, but the final 10 minutes saw three goals and two penalties for an exciting finish. Sydney Leroux missed a penalty, but Amy Turner scored the Pride’s first goal late. Pugh converted her penalty in the moments later, and Leah Pruitt scored her first goal for the Pride a minute after that in a 4-2 Red Stars win.

The teams met three times during the 2021 season, but didn’t play until Aug. 8 in Illinois. Jodie Taylor and Leroux scored for the Pride before the half. The 2-0 win ended a six-game winless streak and was the first NWSL win for interim head coach Becky Burleigh.

The second meeting was Oct. 13 in Bridgeview, a rescheduled game that was originally supposed to take place Oct. 2. Kealia Watt scored in the sixth minute, which the Red Stars defended for 84 minutes on their way to a 1-0 result. The teams met again Oct. 29 in Orlando in the final game of the regular season. The Red Stars controlled the game but the Pride held off the Chicago attack for 65 minutes, at which point Watt scored the lone goal in a 1-0 game.

The Pride and Red Stars didn’t play in the 2020 Fall Series, so the last meeting prior to 2021 came in 2019. The first game was June 30 at Exploria Stadium. Goals by Chioma Ubogagu and Marta were topped by a Sam Kerr hat trick as the Red Stars won 3-2. The second game was on Aug. 21 in Bridgeview. The Pride took a 2-0 lead with goals by Rachel Hill and Ubogagu. Tierna Davidson cut the lead in half for Chicago, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride won 2-1. The third meeting in 2021 came on Sept. 11 in Orlando. Casey Short stole the game for Chicago with the game’s lone goal five minutes into second-half injury time as the Red Stars won, 1-0.

The 2018 NWSL season saw the Pride and Red Stars meet three times. On May 2 in Bridgeview, Hill and Ubogagu scored in a 2-0 Pride win. They met in the same location May 26 in a high-scoring affair. A Leroux brace was added to goals by Hill, Alex Morgan, and Dani Weatherholt, as the Pride won 5-2. They met a third time in 2018 on Aug. 25 in Orlando. The Red Stars were led by a Kerr brace, resulting in a 3-1 victory over the Pride.

The Pride and Red Stars met three times in 2017 — the first year that they played that many games against each other. Christen Press scored the lone goal on July 1 in Orlando as Chicago won 1-0. On July 22 in Bridgeview, Press led her team with a brace in a 2-1 Chicago win. The final meeting came a week later in Orlando. Morgan put the Pride ahead, but Sofia Huerta equalized as the teams drew 1-1.

The two teams met for the first time during the Pride’s inaugural season in 2016 on May 1 in Bridgeview. Press’ second-half goal led the Red Stars to a 1-0 win. On July 16 in Orlando, Taylor Comeau scored the lone goal as Chicago again won 1-0.

Overview

The Pride have caught fire after a tough start to the 2023 season, going 3-0-1 in their last four games. The recent success is due in large part to Pride Head Coach Seb Hines finding a consistent starting lineup.

While the Pride lost their first four games, only in the first game were they thoroughly outplayed. And that was away to the defending champion Portland Thorns. The losses against Angel City FC and NJ/NY Gotham FC were because of second-half stoppage time goals, three times setting new records for the latest goals conceded in NWSL history.

They surprised everyone with their 3-1 win over the San Diego Wave in Southern California and followed that up with a 1-0 home win against Racing Louisville. After drawing Gotham in New Jersey, the Pride had arguably their most impressive result last weekend, beating the previously unbeaten Washington Spirit, 2-1.

The team has created chances most of the season, but their defense has been much better since finding a consistent unit. Anna Moorhouse has solidified her starting position in goal behind a back line of Haley McCutcheon, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Kylie Strom. A healthy Marta, more comfortable Adriana, and experience for Messiah Bright have made the attack much more dangerous as well.

Tonight, the Pride face the last-place Red Stars in a game that they should win. However, coming off a big win over the Spirit, it’s a potential trap game.

“Keep them hungry,” Hines said last week about avoiding a letdown tonight. “Anyone can beat anyone. We were bottom of the table and we go to San Diego and get the ball rolling. So we gotta keep on our toes.”

The Red Stars got off to a poor start, losing their first two games of the year. It got worse when their best attacking player, Swanson, suffered a season-ending injury on April 8 while representing the United States against Ireland in a friendly. They bounced back from that news with their lone win, beating the Kansas City Current 4-2, but have yet to claim another victory. Last weekend, they were pounded 4-0 by the Thorns in Portland, the same score the Pride lost to against the defending champions to start the season.

On paper, the Red Stars should have a strong defense. They feature U.S. international Alyssa Naeher and a back line consisting of Arin Wright, Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, and Tatumn Milazzo. However, they’ve conceded seven goals in their last two games against Louisville and Portland. They haven’t kept their opposition to under two goals since their 1-1 draw against the Spirit on April 29.

The offense has struggled mightily since the team’s four-goal output against the Current. The last goal came in the 54th minute against Gotham on May 7, so it’s been 216 minutes since the Red Stars last scored. It’s a good matchup for the Pride’s stingy defensive unit.

“You can’t look at the table and think a game’s easy,” Hines said about tonight’s game. “They’re a bit short on confidence, but anyone can beat anyone on their day. So we have to be mindful of that. They are still a good team. It just hasn’t gone that way right now. We’ve got momentum and we’ve got to continue that momentum. We have to do the basic right and ultimately, if we do that, we’ll win the game.”

The Pride have a couple of additions to their injury report this week as Jordyn Listro (thigh) and Kaylie Collins (hand) join Carrie Lawrence (knee) as players out injured. Additionally, Amanda Allen is still on international duty with Canada. 

The Red Stars will be without Sami Feller (concussion), Sarah Griffith (ankle), Penelope Hocking (leg), Kayla Sharples (knee), and Swanson (knee).


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, Haley McCutcheon.

Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Kerry Abello.

Midfielders: Adriana, Marta, Erika Tymrak.

Forwards: Messiah Bright.

Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Summer Yates, Celia, Tori Hansen, Viviana Villacorta, Brianna Martinez, Julie Doyle, Ally Watt.

Chicago Red Stars (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher.

Defenders: Arin Wright, Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, Tatumn Milazzo.

Defensive Midfielders: Yuki Nagasato, Julia Bianchi.

Midfielders: Sandra Starke, Cari Rocarro, Bianca St-Georges.

Forwards: Ava Cook.

Bench: Jill Aguilera, Jenna Bike, Emily Boyd, Samantha Fisher, Sophie Jones, Amanda Kowalski, Cheyna Matthews, Allison Schlegel, Ella Stevens.

Referees

REF: Rebecca Pagan.
AR1: Jeremy Smith.
AR2: Cameron Siler.
4TH: Melinda Sopka.
VAR: Shawn Tehini.
AVAR: Joel McKell.


How to Watch

Match Time: 8 p.m.

Venue: SeatGeek Stadium — Bridgeview, IL.

TV: None.

Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com (International).

Twitter: For live updates and rapid reaction, follow the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride). Due to simultaneous games, there won’t be live coverage by The Mane Land for this one but we will recap the match late Saturday night.


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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Orlando Pride

Three Takeaways from the Orlando Pride’s Good Run of Form

Here are some of the factors contributing to the Pride’s four-match unbeaten streak.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride are on a four-match unbeaten streak in NWSL regular-season play. I’m not including the heavily rotated and obviously not taken quite as seriously Challenge Cup match against the Washington Spirit. We should all temper our enthusiasm just a bit following this run of good form, as it’s the hope that kills you. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good things happening with this club. Let’s take a look at what is going right.

Brazilian Power

Marta scored her first goal since 2021 Saturday night in the Pride’s 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit. She also provided an assist with a perfectly placed corner kick to the back post and the head of Kylie Strom. It was exactly the type of performance the Pride needed from the legendary player.

Of course, It can take a long time to come back from such a devastating injury like a torn ACL. It can take longer for a player to find their form, especially if that player is on the older side for a professional soccer player. Hopefully, we’re seeing a renewed and rejuvenated Marta as the Pride move into the remainder of  the season.

Marta isn’t the Pride’s only Brazilian superstar since signing Adriana in the off-season. Like Marta, Adriana has one goal and one assist so far this season. Of course, she’s played more matches, but it’s understandable that she has to settle into a new league, a new club, and a new city. 

Despite having to make those adjustments, she has looked very dangerous. She is a player that the opposition must account for at all times. It was Adriana who drew the penalty against Washington that Marta subsequently scored on. She has 18 shots on the season, with 10 on target. Her willingness to take on defenders and take on a shot — whether inside or outside the box — will pay dividends. She is much too talented for some of those shots to not start making it into the back of the net.

More Moorhouse

The Pride rotated through multiple goalkeepers to start the season, with Anna Moorhouse, Kaylie Collins, and Carly Nelson all getting some starts. However, it now seems that Seb Hines has settled on Moorhouse, and frankly, it’s not hard to see why. Moorhouse has started six matches, has given up eight goals, but made 31 saves for a 1.33 goals-against average. If you take into account that four of the goals she allowed came in the 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns to start the season — and who hasn’t given up four goals to Portland? — her stats look even more impressive.

In Moorhouse’s last four starts, she has two clean sheets — one each against Racing Louisville and NJ/NY Gotham FC — and has given up only one goal each to the San Diego Wave and the Washington Spirit. That is impressive given the competition. It’s Moorhouse’s world, and we’re all just living in it.

Back Line Consistency

Keeper wasn’t the only position in flux early in the season. Seb Hines mixed and matched Emily Madril, Caitlin Cosme, and Megan Montefusco between the center backs and tried Madril at fullback while looking for the right combination. Consistency and time together are needed on a back line for it to be effective. Once Hines settled on Haley McCutcheon at right back, Madril and Montefusco at the center back positions, and Strom at left back, it all started to come together.

Madril was a guest on The Mane Land PawedCast, and she shared her thoughts on how the defense has started to gel. It has also helped Moorhouse over the last four NWSL matches, and should only get better as the season wears on.


Those are some of the factors that stood out to me regarding the Pride’s recent good run of form. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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