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Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 2-2 as Two Stoppage-Time Goals Stun Spirit



The Orlando Pride rallied with two goals just three minutes apart — both deep in stoppage time — to erase a 2-0 deficit and draw the Washington Spirit 2-2 at Exploria Stadium. After 90 minutes of sloppy and sometimes lifeless play, Orlando (2-2-2, 8 points) shocked the Spirit (1-1-3, 6 points) on strikes by Mikayla Cluff and Darian Jenkins in the 95th and 98th minutes, respectively.

The Pride remain winless at home in 2022 (0-2-2 in NWSL play and 0-4-3 in all competitions), but will gladly take the point after struggling to get much going all game long against the defending NWSL champions. Trinity Rodman and Pride killer Ashley Hatch provided the offense for Washington, although the Spirit couldn’t hold the lead.

“I was saying to some of the players, I don’t think I’ve been so happy about a tie in my life,” Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell said after the match. “Equalizing is important. I thought we actually played very well that game for the majority. We had a couple turnovers and they finished really well. Good players are gonna punish you for your mistakes.”

Cromwell’s starting XI featured Erin McLeod in goal behind a back line of Courtney Petersen, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, and Celia. Cluff and Viviana Villacorta started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Sydney Leroux, Gunny Jonsdottir, and Darian Jenkins, with Leah Pruitt up top.

The game started as a back-and-forth affair with neither team getting much going in the opening minutes. The Spirit then started to grow into the game. McLeod came off her line to get to a ball played over the top by Washington. However, the Pride goalkeeper slid over the edge of the box while touching the ball, giving the Spirit a dangerous free kick in the eighth minute. The free kick hit the wall and the Spirit sent the rebound high over the bar and out of play.

Things got more dicey for the Pride in the 12th minute. Rodman played a cross in from the right that deflected off two colliding players and fell to Audrey Harding right in front. The Washington midfielder sent her shot just wide of goal, letting Orlando off the hook.

Washington broke the scoreless deadlock in the 19th minute. Rodman found some space well outside the area and smashed a hard shot toward the left post. McLeod looked like she had a good view of the shot but hesitated before scrambling to her right and that hesitation was all that shot needed, as it had enough pace to beat the keeper.

The Pride came within inches of tying the game in the 23rd minute. Pruitt won a corner and the Pride played it short. Petersen sent a good cross into the area, where Montefusco headed it back across to Jenkins, who sent her header off the left post.

Orlando kept the pressure on, looking to find an equalizer and won multiple corners in a row but couldn’t do anything with them.

The game settled down a bit after that spell of pressure and was played mainly between the penalty areas for the rest of the half. The Spirit took their 1-0 lead into the break.

Washington held more possession in the first half (57.8%-42.2%), due in large part to the Pride’s failure to connect passes. The Spirit completed 79.2% of their passes compared to just 66.2% for Orlando. Chances were fairly even, however. Washington had a slim edge in shots (6-5) in the first half, with each team getting one on target. Orlando’s was a weak header from Montefusco that gave Aubrey Kingsbury no trouble. The Pride had a big edge in corner kicks (6-0) but only the header off the post threatened Kingsbury’s net.

“Ball speed is something I was yelling out a couple of times during the game,” Cromwell said in reference to needing the team to play more quickly. “That was the end of a really long stretch. So, we didn’t even have a full week from the Sunday game to a Friday game after a three-game week. So, there was still tired legs on the field with, I think, especially our outside backs or center backs. There was a lot of tired legs. So with with the fatigue comes those mistakes where the ball speed’s not quite where it needs to be.”

The Spirit should have doubled the lead in the 52nd minute. Washington got a corner after a turnover in the Pride’s half gave Washington a 3-v-1 break. The Spirit got a shot off but McLeod blocked it to create the set piece. On the ensuing corner kick, no one on Orlando marked Sam Staab, who was left open for an uncontested header but sent her shot wide of the right post.

Five minutes later, Hatch blew past Celia to the left corner of the box and smashed a shot inches wide of the near post. That shot likely would have beaten McLeod had it been on target, as it reached the outside netting before the goalkeeper got down to cover that corner.

Hatch got her goal anyway shortly afterward. A pass by Montefusco hit Villacorta in the back and started the break for the Spirit. Ashley Sanchez waited for a run by Hatch then slipped a pass to her teammate. Hatch fired past McLeod to make it 2-0 in the 66th minute.

“You know, they scored two goals — really off of our own mistakes,” Jenkins said.

Orlando had a chance to pull a goal right back in the 68th minute. Jenkins made a nice move to shake free of two defenders on the left and got to the end line, then turned into the area with space to pick out a teammate. Unfortunately, she made an inaccurate pass anyway and the Spirit had no trouble clearing.

Substitute Kerry Abello, who came on for Celia in the second half, had an open look from the top of the area in the 75th minute but blasted her effort five or six yards wide of the right post.

Orlando didn’t seem likely to score as normal time wound down. Washington kept the ball well and the Pride struggled to string passes together to move into the attacking third. Rodman fired a shot right at McLeod in the 89th minute, as Washington seemed likelier to score late in regulation than Orlando. The Spirit then should have put the game away early in stoppage time.

Montefusco gave the ball away cheaply again in the 92nd minute, sending the Spirit in on a 3-on-2 break. Sanchez tried to chip McLeod but sent her shot harmlessly over the bar.

Then the game changed completely out of nowhere.

The Pride spoiled the shutout late and it appeared at the time to be just a consolation goal. Cluff sent the ball from the middle out to second-half sub Jordyn Listro on the right. Listro got past a defender and sent in a cross and Cluff flicked it past Kingsbury in the 95th minute to make it 2-1. The goal gave Orlando hope but the end was nearly in sight for the Spirit.

“I knew that there were players that were obviously, you know, hitting the 90-minute mark, and I knew I had fresh legs,” Listro said. “So, those extra runs I thought would be the best for me to do, so I just put myself higher on the field and it worked out.”

It was Listro’s first assist of her NWSL career.

The teams played beyond the six minutes of stoppage time indicated by the fourth official and Orlando made the most of it. Listro got forward on the end of a Villacorta pass and tried to cross but it was deflected. Substitute Julie Doyle picked up the loose ball and sent the ball across the box, where Emily Sonnett got a foot on it for Washington but could only knock it to Jenkins. The Pride forward then slotted it inside the far post to make it 2-2 in the 98th minute, stealing a late point for Orlando.

“I felt like another goal was coming, but was it going to come in time? Because we didn’t have much time left,” Cromwell said. “So, there’s something to be said for this game in earning this point.”

Seconds later, the game was over and Orlando had stolen a point late. The Pride ended up with more possession (51.6%-48.4%) and corners (8-1), while the Spirit fired more shots (11-9) — with each team getting three attempts on target — and passed more accurately (77.9%-74.1%).

“I’m just really proud of my team,” Jenkins said. “I think we’ve overcome a lot and had to persevere through a lot, and even though it’s one point, it’s still a win just because of what we overcame. Hopefully we can just keep building and start games with that same energy we ended with.”

“I just think we never gave up, honestly,” Listro said. “And there’s so many great girls on this team that are going to work for each other, and we didn’t put our heads down. We thought, ‘Okay, there’s still time.’”

There was just enough, as it turned out. 

The Pride will hit the road for the entire month of June, starting with a trip to play the Houston Dash on June 3.

Orlando Pride

Five Questions About the Orlando Pride in 2024

What are the top five questions for the Orlando Pride heading into the 2024 NWSL season?



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride have begun their preseason training for the 2024 NWSL season and will play their first preseason scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. The team nearly made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2017, narrowly missing out on the final day of the season. The team’s been busy this off-season, looking to improve the squad. However, there are still some questions to be answered before the competitive games start.

Here are five burning questions about the Pride for 2024.

Who Will Start in Goal?

The Pride signed English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse from French side Bordeaux on Jan. 31, 2022 to back up Erin McLeod. When the Canadian left after the 2022 season, Moorhouse was elevated to starter. She played well at times last year, but was inconsistent. However, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines showed confidence in the 28-year-old, starting her in 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games.

In December, the Pride traded backup Carly Nelson to the Utah Royals for Allocation Money. The move came 11 days after they signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner, indicating the club was planning for the departure. While Moorhouse will undoubtedly start the season as the team’s number one, Manner could claim the position if Moorhouse’s inconsistency returns. It will be something to keep an eye on this year.

Who Will Start in the Defensive Midfield?

The Pride focused on the team’s back line last year, but much of the effort this off-season has been on the defensive midfield. The team traded for Haley McCutcheon on Aug. 18, 2022 and it appeared as though she would start in the position. However, Hines moved her to right back last year, where she’s become the regular starter. It then looked like recent draft picks Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff would be the duo, but Cluff was traded to Utah on Nov. 15 for Expansion Draft protection and Villacorta tore her ACL late last year.

The club focused on the position this off-season, bringing in Brazilian internationals Angelina and Luana, along with USWNT player Morgan Gautrat. All three will battle to start in the defensive midfield, especially since Villacorta is injured and fellow defensive midfielders Cluff and Jordyn Listro are gone. But it’s still unknown who will start in those positions. It’s a question that will likely be answered in the coming weeks as the Pride build for the start of the regular season in March.

Where is Ally Watt Best Suited?

After tearing down the roster in a full rebuild, the Pride made two significant acquisitions in August 2022. In addition to trading for McCutcheon, the Pride dealt Allocation Money to OL Reign (now Seattle Reign FC) for forward Ally Watt. The speedy attacker quickly became the second option up top for the Pride, typically playing behind rookie Messiah Bright last year and starting the odd game. However, that’s not the only position she played.

Hines has shown he values versatility and illustrated that with Watt last year. In addition to playing up top, Watt was deployed on the right side of the midfield. Her speed and ability with the ball was an asset in the position, and she was praised by teammates in the role. They love having her on the right and Julie Doyle on the left, the two fastest players on the team. The questions now become: which position is she best at, and where does she best fit in with this team?

Who will Replace Messiah Bright?

Possibly the biggest question for the 2024 season is who will replace the starting striker. The Pride drafted Bright with the 21st overall pick of the 2022 NWSL Draft out of TCU, and she quickly became the focal point of the attack. Her six regular-season goals last year tied Adriana for the team lead. However, the forward requested a trade this off-season, citing personal reasons, and was shipped off to Angel City FC.

The club did sign Simone Charley, most recently with Angel City, who could replace Bright. However, she’s coming off a season-ending injury and wasn’t as effective in Los Angeles as she was in Portland. Other options include Canadian international Amanda Allen or Argentina international Mariana Larroquette. Watt might be the most likely to start the season up top as it stands, with Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter recently telling our SkoPurp Soccer podcast that 2024 will be “the season of Ally.” But it remains to be seen who will be the Pride’s new number nine.

Will We Discover the Pride’s New Number 10?

Marta has been the Pride’s number 10 since she arrived in 2017 and the team’s most prolific player. She leads the team all-time in appearances (102), starts (95), minutes (8,456), goals (31), and assists (18) in all competitions. However, she’s on the final year of a two-year deal that’s widely expected to be the last for the soon-to-be-38-year-old midfielder. If she does depart the club following the 2024 season, they Pride will need to find her replacement.

The club could go outside and find her replacement for 2025, but there are options in the current squad. The most talented player on the team currently is Brazilian international Adriana, who has typically played on the right side of the midfield, causing problems for defenses. She’s also switched with Marta at times, moving central, and has played there at the international level. The club also has Summer Yates, the former Washington Husky drafted in 2023. Yates slipped to the fourth round, where the Pride grabbed her, and Carter recently said she’s seen significant development in the second-year player.

While the primary focus is on this season, Hines could show his hand with who plays the most minutes behind Marta in the attacking midfield. While a final decision will probably be left to the 2025 preseason, we can get an idea of who might be in line for arguably the most significant role on the team during the 2024 campaign.

The Pride enter the 2024 season with more expectations than the last two years. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2023 and will be looking to improve this season. While most of the team is intact, there are some questions to be answered during preseason and the coming regular season. It will tell us a lot about the team’s 2024 season and the coming years.

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Orlando Pride’s Summer Yates and Amanda Allen in Line for Breakout Seasons

Summer Yates and Amanda Allen could have breakout seasons for the Pride.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride are in the third year of a full rebuild, although there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Last season saw multiple young players take big steps forward in their development and this year will undoubtedly see more. Two players who currently look like they’ll play bigger roles in the team are midfielder Summer Yates and forward Amanda Allen.

Yates and Allen are two young players with bright futures that the Pride brought in during 2023. They drafted Yates out of the University of Washington with the third pick of the fourth round (39th overall) of the 2023 NWSL Draft. You usually don’t find this level of talent that late in the draft, but Yates was expected to go much higher. She began slipping through the second and third rounds, enabling the Pride to complete what could be the steal of the draft.

Rather than coming in through the draft, the Pride were able to sign Allen directly. The teenager made her way through the Canadian national team system, making her senior team debut in November 2022. She was seen as a player for the future but didn’t see much of the field last year.

It’s not a surprise to see young players in this team see significant minutes, as the Pride have focused on it over the past few seasons. It’s something that Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter spoke about with The Mane Land’s SkoPurp Soccer podcast last week. 

“I think you develop through meaningful match minutes,” Carter said on SkoPurp. “Even if you look at some of the signings that we’ve made, young athletes, you look at Amanda Allen for instance, making sure she’s getting meaningful match minutes is really important to us.”

Yates and Allen are both likely to see more minutes this year but face different situations. Yates saw more time on the field during her rookie season, making 10 league appearances and recording 108 minutes. She made a further six appearances (two starts) in the NWSL Challenge Cup for 259 minutes and recorded two assists in the competition.

The Pride signed Marta to a two-year extension following the 2022 NWSL season, so this could very well be the last year of her career. Once the star is gone, the Pride will be looking for a long-term replacement and Yates could be that player. Carter even told SkoPurp that she’s seen development in the midfielder this off-season.

“(Yates) is flying, by the way. Summer Yates is chef’s kiss flying,” Carter said. “She had an unbelievable off-season. She’s like a whole new player this year.”

The midfielder was the primary playmaker for Washington in college and played that role when she appeared for the Pride last year. It wouldn’t be surprising to see her play more minutes this season, especially since the club will likely lose Adriana at times to international duty.

Allen is in a different position than Yates but might have a similar opportunity to prove herself this season. At the end of last year, she was the fourth striker on the depth chart behind Messiah Bright, Ally Watt, and Mariana Larroquette. However, Bright asked for a trade this off-season due to personal reasons and was shipped to Angel City FC. The club could still bring in a veteran striker to replace the young forward, but Carter said it’s not a major concern for the team at the moment.

“We feel like we’re in a good place,” Carter said about the striker situation. “It’s not something that we’re terribly concerned about.”

However, she also said that the club has worked at strengthening the back line and midfield positions over the past two seasons. Now it’s time to look for goal scorers that can push the team to be a contender in the NWSL.

“If you look at it from a strategy standpoint, how we’ve approached the last year, we got to improve the back line. And that’s what we did first,” Carter said. “And then the priority became the midfield. And that’s what we did in the beginning of the off-season. And now we’re looking for established goal scorers.”

Watt was the starter at the forward position last year when Bright wasn’t available or needed rest. While it’s fair to assume she would simply move up to the number one spot on the depth chart, Carter further indicated the veteran would be the team’s nine.

“I feel like this is going to be the year of Ally,” Carter said about the forward.

The Pride emphasize versatility, something they’ve shown the past few seasons. While Watt will likely be the starting forward when the season starts, she also played on the right in 2023. Following her appearances last year in the midfield, her attacking teammates gave glowing reviews about having the speed of Watt on the right and Julie Doyle on the left.

The club’s focus on Watt up top might seem like a negative for Allen’s playing time. After all, the teenager didn’t appear much last season, only making three league appearances for nine minutes. She didn’t play much more in the NWSL Challenge Cup, making three appearances, with one start, for 91 minutes.

However, Allen has two things going for her. One is that the club values providing meaningful minutes to young players and Allen is seen as part of the future of this team. It’s also not easy to find proven goal scorers. Unless the club can find a proven goal scorer by the trade and transfer deadline on April 22, Allen will move up on the depth chart.

The focus for the Pride this season is improving on last year and making the playoffs for the first time since 2017. However, they also have an eye on the future with the team still being young. Last year, we saw young players like Bright and Emily Madril prove themselves at the professional level. This year we could see Yates and Allen make a similar jump.

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Orlando Pride Rebuild Resembles Orlando City’s

The Pride are taking a page from the Lions on building a winning club.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Building a winning club is not an easy thing to do. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Of course, there are different ways to go about it. You can spend a ton of money on flashy, big-name players who you throw together and hope something comes out of it. The Orlando Pride already tried that and it didn’t work. One other way is to take your time to build something from scratch. It isn’t as quick, and takes patience, but it is usually more sustainable.

Just like with Orlando City, it started with a coach. Seb Hines took over as interim head coach following the departure of Amanda Cromwell under less-than-ideal conditions. Oscar Pareja has built a culture with the Lions and now Hines is doing the same for the Pride. The arrival of Haley Carter has resulted in a partnership that aims to bring more wins for the club.

One of the key factors in Orlando City’s rebuild was the addition of Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos to create a stable center back pairing. Now, the Pride look like they have done the same thing with Rafaelle and Emily Madril. Rafaelle is signed through the 2025 season, and Madril through the 2026 season. Those two, along with Haley McCutcheon, Carrie Lawrence, Megan Montefusco, and Kylie Strom, among others, have stabilized a defense that was pretty porous in the past. It is the foundation.

I don’t think that the Pride have the equivalent of a Pedro Gallese in goal, but there will be plenty of competition between Anna Moorhouse, Sofia Manner, and Kaylie Collins. With Collins on loan in Australia, Moorhouse and Manner will battle it out for the starting role.

We saw the difference that Facundo Torres, Cesar Araujo, and Wilder Cartagena made in the Orlando City midfield. The Pride have beefed up their midfield over the last year, adding Brazilians Angelina and Luana, as well as the recent additions of Morgan Gautrat and NWSL Draft pick Ally Lemos. The plan is for the Pride to be able to work the ball up the field rather than having to lump it over the top all the time. This will create chances for the forwards to get more service from the midfield and thus score more goals.

Speaking of the attack, the Pride have several options despite the departure of Messiah Bright. Ally Watt is coming off her first fully healthy season and is looking to prove she is the person for the job. Adriana was my player of the year for the Pride in 2023 and I expect even more from her in 2024. There is also Julie Doyle, Mariana Larroquette, Amanda Allen, and the newly acquired Simone Charley. That is a lot of potential firepower now that the midfield is in better shape. 

I know that some supporters get a little jealous when other clubs like NJ/NY Gotham FC are making splashy, big-name signings, but remember, it wasn’t those signings that won Gotham the title last season. I also know that having a fan favorite like Bright head off to another club seems like a big blow. We’re all a little sensitive that the Pride have been snubbed by the likes of Mia Fishel, Debinha, and others. 

We interviewed Haley Carter on the SkoPurp Soccer PawedCast the other day, and one thing she said really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but basically it was to be glad for all the players who want to be here. They are putting in the work. They have bought into the culture that the club is building. They are signing contract extensions because they believe. To quote Ted Lasso, “I believe in believe,” and it might be the hope that kills you, but I’m pretty excited about what is being built in Orlando right now.  

Also, consider this: the transfer window doesn’t close until April. The Pride might not be done making moves. Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and please listen to the interview with Haley Carter if you haven’t already. Vamos Orlando!

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