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Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Final Score 6-0 as Pride Suffer Worst Loss Ever

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The Portland Thorns put the Orlando Pride on full blast, breezing to a 6-0 win at Providence Park that could easily have been even more lopsided. Despite some good saves by Erin McLeod and some wasted shots by the Thorns, it was still Orlando’s worst loss in the team’s existence. Hina Sugita, Becky Sauerbrunn, Sophia Smith (twice), Natalia Kuikka, and Taylor Porter all scored for the Thorns (4-1-4, 16 points).

The Pride (2-5-2, 8 points) have now lost three consecutive matches — all via shutout — and are winless in their last four games (0-3-1) heading into the international break. Orlando has been outscored 12-0 in the last three matches and have been shut out three straight times for the first time since the team’s expansion season, when the Pride were blanked from May 28 to June 18 of 2016 by FC Kansas City, the Western New York Flash, and the Washington Spirit. Like the current stretch, those matches were all on the road.

Orlando had been beaten three times by five goals but this was the first six-goal loss and tied the team record for most goals conceded in a match. The Pride fell to 2-10-2 in the all-time, regular-season series against Portland and 2-11-2 in all competitions.

“I thought we got beat by a better team today and not only because they were better in possession, but fundamentals,” acting Pride coach Seb Hines said after the match. “Their ability to put us under pressure at the right moment, their willingness to run and battle and compete. And then with their creativity, they created multiple chances, and that’s something that moving forward we need to be better. We need to be better at the fundamentals — tackling, competing, running.”

Hines started McLeod in goal behind a back line of Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, and Megan Montefusco, with Darian Jenkins and Kerry Abello playing in sort of wingback roles. Meggie Dougherty Howard slotted into the midfield with Gunny Jonsdottir and Angharad James, with an attacking line of Abi Kim, and Julie Doyle. There were no center backs or strikers on the Pride bench.

The danger from Portland started early with Kuikka making a bombing run down the right, speeding past the Pride midfield and getting to the top of the box, where she nutmegged Pressley with a pass to Smith, who fired a shot that took a slight deflection and skipped inches wide of the left post.

The ensuing corner kick fell for Sugita, who was completely unmarked on the back side, but she got under her volley attempt, which sailed harmlessly well over the goal.

The first great chance for the Pride happened in the 17th minute. Kim made a good cross in from the right that Dougherty Howard chested down into her own path. She got a good look 1-v-1 with Bella Bixby, who made a huge save to keep the game scoreless.

“We created a great opportunity at nil-nil where it comes from a cross. Meggie takes a great touch and Bixby makes a save,” Hines said. “We’re talking about a (potential) one-nil lead, which can change the outcome of the game.”

The Thorns went right down the field after the save and Smith got in behind the defense but Montefusco did well to stab the ball away from behind. Sauerbrun was unmarked by Abello on the ensuing corner and McLeod made a sensational save in the 18th minute to keep the game at 0-0 — for the time being.

Three minutes later, Portland broke through. Abello’s attempted pass was easily picked off by Janine Beckie, who crossed into the box. The ball found Sugita — who got in behind Jenkins — on Portland’s left side, and she made no mistake this time, putting the Thorns up 1-0 in the 21st minute.

It took just four minutes to double the lead. Jonsdottir conceded a free kick on a handball, trying to protect herself from a point-blank cross. Although her arm was near her body, the referee ruled it wasn’t in a natural position. The free kick was sent in low and hard and McLeod tried to catch it rather than punch it away, but she couldn’t handle it and the rebound fell for 37-year-old defender Sauerbrunn, who was not tracked by anyone. Sauerbrunn smashed the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0 in the 25th minute.

“That second goal was a killer,” Hines said. “It comes from a free kick, where Becky Sauerbrunn’s gambled because she’s confident and she’s got a tap-in. Them little defining moments can change a result of the game.”

Things could have gotten worse in the 31st minute when Smith danced past three Pride players with no trouble whatsoever, and sent a pass to Rocky Rodriguez at the top of the box. The midfielder sent her shot just wide.

Orlando survived a couple of late set pieces and the Pride entered the locker room down only 2-0 despite being dominated. Portland had more shots (10-2), shots on target (5-1), Possession (57.8%-42.2%), corners (3-2), and passing accuracy (85.7%-77.4%).

The Portland dominance continued to start the second half, despite the introduction of Viviana Villacorta by Hines, replacing Kim. The Thorns continued to ping passes and crosses around. Kuikka and Rodriguez each had shots blocked at the top of the area early in the second period. James then gave the ball away in her defensive third, allowing Beckie a free shot from outside the area that skipped wide.

Beckie then managed to beat both Abello and Petersen in the 56th minute to get a dangerous cross in to Smith, who got a shot deflected and McLeod was able to collect. Two minutes later, it was Beckie firing just wide on the counter. The Pride immediately turned it over again and this time Smith fired just wide.

Bixby made a second big save to keep the Pride off the board in the 60th minute. Jenkins stepped into a shot from a long way out that required the Portland keeper to make a flying save, as she got a hand to it to knock it wide. Pressley’s header came close on the ensuing corner but just missed the target at the near post.

Hines made a pair of substitutions in the 61st minute, bringing on Kylie Strom and Jordyn Listro for Abello and Montefusco. Those changes definitely helped — Portland. The Thorns finished with four more goals in the final half hour to turn a loss into a humiliation.

The Thorns went back on the attack after the substitutions. Everyone on the Pride backed off to give Sam Coffey a clean look at the top of the box in the 62nd minute but she fired her shot right at McLeod. However, the Pride conceded seconds later. After McLeod’s save, the Pride didn’t even make it out of their own half — again — and Portland came back on the attack, with Smith making a good turn that gave her several yards of clearance on Pressley. She then finished well to make it 3-0 in the 63rd minute.

“Confidence plays a major factor in performance,” Hines said about the team’s struggle to play out of their end in recent matches. “You know, when you’re confident you see them things a little bit quicker. You feel like, ‘Oh, I can play it through that line and get it to a midfielder.’ Right now, in the position that we’re in, we’re just lacking that element.”

Petersen sent in a cross or a shot in the 67th minute that Bixby did well to come out and catch. Jenkins then fired a shot at Bixby moments later as Orlando searched for a consolation goal. But then Orlando reverted to playing passively again. Smith nearly made it 4-0 in the 73rd minute but McLeod made a good save. Olivia Moultrie then fired a shot right at McLeod three minutes later.

Kuikka then did make it 4-0 in the 79th minute. She started with the ball on the left, then made a short pass and ran into the box, but no one bothered to go with her and Kuikka was left all alone in front of goal. The ball found its way back to her and she had no trouble slotting past McLeod.

“We definitely need to learn from this,” Pressley said. “There are situations where we do need to mark in the box and deny crosses and block shots, and that’s certainly something that we can work on and get better at. So, moving forward, that will help us. So, certainly I think there are a lot of things to take away from this game defensively. And we need to be better.”

Smith nearly made it 5-0 seconds later, as the Pride wasted no time giving the ball back to the Thorns on the restart. The ball hit an Orlando player and went out for a corner. No matter, as Smith added the fifth goal in the 86th minute — just two minutes after Yazmeen Ryan was left all alone on the right and fired over the net. Smith wasn’t closed down outside the area so she simply let fly to make it 5-0.

Taylor Porter added her first career goal before the final whistle. Again, nobody bothered marking her — or multiple other Thorns players — on a set piece that was played short, in an utterly embarrassing display.

That was, mercifully, all the scoring. Portland stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with more shots (26-6), shots on target (12-3), possesson (52.3%-47.7%), and passing accuracy (80.1%-79.2%). Each team earned four corners, which is one of the few statistical categories where the Pride matched up with their hosts.

“We tried our best and tried to stick to the game plan and it just really didn’t fall our way,” Pressley said.

“No one likes to lose in that manner,” Hines said. “There’s a lot going on. It’s difficult for the players, for staff — we’re obviously short-staffed right now. But I’m now in a position that this has to change. The habits and training need to change. The habits in games need to change, so we’re not walking off the field with regrets. You know, six-nil hurts everyone, and I take responsibility for that being the interim head coach. But moving forward, we will remember this as a turning point in our season.”


The Pride are off until July 3, when they’ll head over to Daytona to “host” Racing Louisville FC at Daytona International Speedway as part of Daytona Soccer Fest.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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