Connect with us

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Final Score 2-1 as the Pride Win Their Second Game of the Season

Published

on

The Orlando Pride (2-1-1, 7 points) used an early goal by Sydney Leroux and a late first-half goal by Mikayla Cluff to beat the North Carolina Courage (0-2-0, 0 points) 2-1 in Cary, NC. Brianna Pinto scored a consolation goal late to give the hosts a chance, but the Pride held on for their second win of the season, extending their unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1).

With the North Carolina Courage losing several key players to injury and COVID protocol, Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell made some significant changes to the lineup. Kylie Strom, Viviana Villacorta, Jordyn Listro, Abi Kim, and Julie Doyle all entered the lineup, replacing regular starters Darian Jenkins, Gunny Jonsdottir, Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, and Leah Pruitt. Additionally, Angharad James returned from an ankle injury and started the game on the bench.

While the lineup changes can be somewhat attributed to Courage absences, Cromwell spoke last week after the game about the team’s tired legs. This game was an opportunity to give some of the most used players some much-needed rest.

This game got off to a similar start as the Pride’s 1-0 win against Angel City FC. In the fourth minute, Cluff got on the end of a cross but it was saved by Casey Murphy. The Courage goalkeeper wasn’t able to block it far away, sending it right to Leroux, who put it into an empty net.

“The ball just happened to kind of pop out to me,” Cluff said about her involvement in the opening goal. “I was waiting for the second ball and I was able to get good contact on it. She made a great save and then Syd was there to bail me out and put it away for us.”

The Pride have now scored inside the first five minutes of both regular season road games. In Los Angeles, Leroux scored a similar goal in the third minute, giving the Pride a very early lead against the NWSL newcomers. Tonight, they did the same thing, just a minute later.

“It’s huge,” Cluff said about scoring early on the road. “We talked about the big moments in the game and the times that we let them get shifted. The first five minutes of the game is some of the biggest parts. So it’s nice when we’re able to come out and get a strong start.”

“Scoring that early allows us to just play and be calm,” Listro added. “Sometimes at the start of the game it’s super frantic. But when we get that first goal, we can take a breath and then just play our style of soccer.”

The Courage got their first chance in the ninth minute when Diana Ordonez found Rylee Baisden at the top of the box. The midfielder took the host team’s first shot at goal, but it was blocked and the Pride began to head the other way.

The Pride had a great chance to double their lead in the 20th minute. Kim’s cross made it through the box for Ryan Williams, whose poor clearance went right to Cluff. The rookie quickly shot on goal but it was going wide the whole way and didn’t cause any trouble for Murphy.

They had another chance in the 22nd minute when Strom sent a long ball into the box for Doyle. The forward got her head to the ball but it was too soft and Murphy made an easy save.

North Carolina got one of its best first-half chances in the 24th minute from a smart play by Debinha. Meredith Speck played the ball to her right and Debinha, knowing that Ordonez was making a run behind her, let it go. Ordonez took the ball towards the end line and sent in a cross. However, Megan Montefusco did well defensively and blocked the cross. It went out for a corner but McLeod punched the ball away on the ensuing set piece and the Pride were able to clear.

Kim created another chance in the 27th minute when a run to the end line saw the midfielder lift a short cross to the front of the six-yard box. The ball appeared to be a little behind Cluff as she attempted to put it on goal. As a result, she didn’t get much on it resulting in an easy save for Murphy.

In the 30th minute, a misplayed goal kick was won by Listro. She immediately was able to get the ball to Leroux, who took a couple of dribbles and fired on goal from the top of the box. However, the shot was a little wide.

Three minutes later, the Courage had a great chance when Williams sent a cross into the box. Ordonez received the low pass and laid it back for Baisden, who was a couple of yards behind her. Baiden’s first touch was a hard shot, but Carrie Lawrence did well to get in front and block it away.

The Courage got another good chance two minutes later when Taylor Smith got sent in behind the Pride defense. Fortunately, the ball was a little too far for her and McLeod came well off her line to clear it.

Debinha continued her dangerous play from the left with a pair of crosses in the 37th and 41st minutes. The first one was cleared away by Lawrence but the second found a teammate at the back post. Ordonez and Jorian Baucom were charging at the post and Ordonez was first to reach the ball. It was a little high so she wasn’t able to get much on the header that went wide. It was fortunate for the Pride, as Baucom was right behind her and seemed in a good position to get a better shot on target.

While North Carolina looked more dangerous as the game neared halftime, it was the Pride that scored. In the 44th minute, Celia sent a long ball for Doyle. It looked as though the ball would go out of play but Doyle didn’t give up and slid to save it. The ball went back to Leroux who looked to redirect it towards goal but Williams came across to block it. The ball went right to Cluff near the penalty spot who put the ball past Murphy, doubling the Pride lead. It was her first career NWSL goal.

“I can’t remember who crossed it, but I saw the ball getting crossed in and I’m just trying to get into the box,” Cluff said about her goal. “And luckily Syd kind of put her body on the line for us, got the deflection, and I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”

After being a part of the buildup for the second goal, Celia took her own shot three minutes into first half injury time. The shot looked to be going just inside the far post, but Murphy did well to get down and tip it wide of the goal.

The Pride were the better team in the first 45 minutes, with more shots (7-4) and shots on target (4-0). The Courage did have plenty of chances, with more possession (55.6%-44.4%), corners (4-2), and crosses (12-7), but the Pride took advantage of their chances, ending the half with a 2-0 lead.

The Pride made a few changes at the end of the first half and early in the second half. A surprising substitution was Kerry Abello coming on for Doyle a minute into first-half injury time. Jenkins and James both came on at halftime for Kim and Viviana Villacorta, and Pruitt replaced Cluff in the 61st minute.

After the team’s 2-2 draw with the Kansas Current over the weekend, Cromwell spoke about the team not being aggressive enough after taking the lead in the 51st minute. That wasn’t a problem as the second half began with the Pride pushing forward. They weren’t able to create any shots in the opening minutes of the half, but did win a corner kick in the 54th minute.

Both teams had several chances in the first half, but the first good second-half chance didn’t come until the 73rd minute. After winning the ball back inside her own box, Lawrence sent a long ball for Leroux, looking for a fast break. Leroux tried to play it through the legs of Kaleigh Kurtz but the ball bounced off her legs and right back to the forward. Leroux continued on, beating Kurtz and Malia Berkely to find space for a shot. Unfortunately, the shot was just wide of the post, stopping what would’ve been one of the goals of the season.

Playing from two goals behind, the Courage didn’t get their first shot of the second half until the 75th minute. After coming on at halftime, Havana Solaun had to come off due to an injury and was replaced by Pinto. The new addition to the game took a shot seconds after coming on but it was well high of the goal.

The Courage had another chance in the 82nd minute when Jaelene Daniels made a long run into the Pride box after a short pass by Carson Pickett. She did well to find some space but ran out of energy, sending the ball well wide of the target.

As time wound down, the Pride fell into more of a defensive shape, looking to see out the win. But the hosts got one back in the 85th minute. Pinto got a chance from the top of the box but her shot was blocked. The ball went back to Williams on the right who quickly played it back to Pinto. A slick spin opened up some space for the attacker to get a shot on goal. The ball was heading right to McLeod, but took a slight deflection off Montefusco, going inside the near post.

Up a goal and with time winding down, the Pride just wanted to hold onto the lead. Cromwell made one defensive change in the 89th minute, bringing Courtney Petersen on for Abello. The head coach said she would’ve liked to have made one more defensive change near the end. However, the Pride did well to hold onto the one-goal lead.

“North Carolina has a great attack, especially in transition. So we just tried to communicate as much as possible and keep our shape for the last 30 minutes,” Listro said about the final defensive effort. “And I think we worked really hard as a team and tried to win all our one-v-one battles and that showed and we came out with a win.”

The Courage continued to push hard for an equalizer as the game entered injury time and came very close. Three minutes into injury time, Berkely sent Ordonez through behind the Pride defense. She put the ball past McLeod and into the net but was judged to be offside.

While Ordonez was clearly offside, the second one was close. Five minutes into added time, Pickett sent a long ball into the box for Brittany Ratcliffe. Her first touch was over McLeod and in for what North Carolina thought was the equalizer. However, the linesman’s flag was up and, again, the Courage player was judged to be in an offside position.

Shortly after the offside call on Ratcliffe, Pinto tried to send Daniels through but she was the third offside call in injury time for the Courage. The final whistle final blew and the Pride were able to hold on for a 2-1 win.

After being held to four shots in the first 75 minutes, the Courage had six shots and three offside calls in the final 15 minutes plus injury time. They ended the game with more shots than the Pride (10-8) but, while the Pride put four shots on target, North Carolina only put one on frame. The final 15 minutes also allowed the Courage to end the game with more possession (54.4%-45.6%), corners (4-3), crosses (22-10), and passes (454-390).

“Very exciting. My adrenaline was going from those last six minutes of injury time,” Cromwell said after the game. “Obviously North Carolina is a very good team. They won the Challenge Cup. They have a lot of great attacking pieces. So holding on to a lead was really, really hard but important to do and I was just really proud of our efforts.”

“What we’ve been working on is a little bit of mentality, a little bit of having courage,” Cromwell continued. “And one of the quotes I said to them at the end tonight is, ‘Fortune favors the brave.’ And I thought we were brave tonight. I think some players have stepped up to be brave in communication, to be brave on the ball.”

The win pushes the Pride all the way up to second place, just two points behind San Diego Wave FC atop the NWSL standings. However, the Pride have played more games than anyone else and two more than some teams.


After securing seven points in their last three games, the Pride will return home Sunday night to face the Chicago Red Stars in the final match of the three-game week.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

Continue Reading

Trending