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Orlando Pride vs. Racing Louisville FC: Final Score 2-2 as Pride End Three-Game Losing Streak



The Orlando Pride (2-5-3, 9 points) came back from a two-goal deficit to draw Racing Louisville (2-4-4, 10 point) at Daytona International Speedway as part of the 2022 Daytona SoccerFest event. The visitors took a 2-0 lead by the 51st minute with goals by Emina Ekic and Savannah DeMelo, but the Pride came back with goals by Kylie Strom and Darian Jenkins.

This game was a regular season NWSL match, but was the league’s first game ever played at a superspeedway. As a result, the infield and pit road areas were converted into a full-size soccer field. Prior to the Pride taking the field, a legends game was played and Chance the Rapper performed during the warmup period.

Gunny Jonsdottir missed this unique event as she is away on international duty with Iceland. Additionally, Courtney Petersen started the game on the bench and Angharad James is away with an excused absence. As a result, the lineup looked a bit different for this match. The back line in front of Erin McLeod consisted of Celia, Megan Montefusco, Toni Pressley, and Strom. Jordyn Listro and Meggie Dougherty Howard were the defensive midfielders behind Viviana Villacorta, Erika Tymrak, and Thais Reiss with Jenkins up top.

The Pride got off to the better start to the game, holding the majority of possession in the opening 20 minutes. As a result, the hosts got the first chance of the game in the third minute through Dougherty Howard. The midfielder faked two defenders to create space but her shot was saved by Katie Lund.

Another chance came for the Pride in the eighth minute when Jenkins set up Tymrak near the penalty spot. However, the midfielder — making her first start of the regular season —sent the shot well over the crossbar.

Louisville got its first chance of the game in the 10th minute when Freja Olofsson found Kristen Davis in the box. The forward quickly took a shot but missed to the left of the target.

In the 14th minute, Dougherty Howard had another decent chance when Reiss found her with a good ball into the box. However, the Pride midfielder couldn’t get around the ball enough and sent it wide.

Louisville had a golden opportunity in the 23rd minute when a turnover by Strom allowed Jess McDonald to set up Ekic in the box. The forward fired on goal from point-blank range but McLeod did well to close down her angle and block the shot.

A minute later, McLeod saved the Pride again. Lauren Milliet found Ekic in the box and the forward shot on goal. McLeod was able to get her fingertips to the ball, knocking it off the crossbar.

The visitors nearly opened the scoring again in the 32nd minute. Milliet sent McDonald through on goal, but the quick decision making by McLeod allowed her to beat McDonald to the ball and collect it before Louisville’s top scorer could reach it.

Two minutes later, Louisville finally converted. It appeared as though McLeod was going to catch the Louisville cross, but the ball bounced off her hands and right to Ekic. After a brief touch, the Louisville forward shot on goal, sending it between Celia’s legs for the opener.

“I told them that one goal doesn’t dictate how well we’re playing right now,” Interim Head Coach Seb Hines said about the first half goal. “You know, you could see that. Once a goal went in we were disheartened. But we have great players who want to continue to do what’s right and try and get the ball and get back into the game. And it was a blip. That was it. It was just one little blip. And like I said, we created opportunities that we could have been up and that’s the final stage that we need to to improve on.”

While the Pride had the better of the early moments in the game, Louisville took over about 20 minutes in. As a result, the Pride had more possession (56.7%-43.3%) but fewer shots (8-6). Meanwhile, the teams had the same number of shots on target (4-4) but Louisville made one of its efforts count.

Unlike the first half, it was Louisville that was the better team at the start of the second 45 minutes. Shortly after kickoff, two Pride players went into the book as Dougherty Howard fouled Olofsson, which resulted in a blocked shot by Davis, in the 47th minute. Three minutes later, Montefusco was booked for a foul on Savannah DeMelo just outside the box.

The foul placed the ball almost touching the edge of the box. Ekic and DeMelo stood over the ball, with the former making the initial run and stepping over the ball. DeMelo then stepped up and put a screamer into the corner, past arms of the diving McLeod, doubling the Louisville lead.

The Pride responded well, pulling one back in the 59th minute. Substitute Kerry Abello’s cross into the box for Jenkins was punched away, but not far enough as Jenkins gained control. With her back to goal, the forward played it back to Strom, whose second touch curled inside the far post and in. It was Strom’s first goal since joining the Pride last year and her first in the NWSL.

“I almost don’t even still believe that happened,” Strom said about her goal. “But D (Darian Jenkins) I think gave me a great pass back and just saw the opportunity and took it. We’ve always been having a bit of difficulty scoring the past few games. So that’s been a focus these past couple of weeks in training. So it was really nice to get when we were going at them. And yeah, it was nice to go in for sure.”

“It’s a big confidence booster,” Hines added. “You know, when that first goal goes in, can we get another one and then can we control the game after that?”

The goal broke a 329-minute scoring drought for the Pride that dated back to the team’s May 27 game against the Washington Spirit, when Cluff and Jenkins scored two second-half, injury-time goals to equalize. Since scoring that goal, the Pride had been outscored 14-0 in a 5-0 loss to the Houston Dash, a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars, a 6-0 loss to the Portland Thorns, and falling behind 2-0 tonight to Racing Louisville.

After going more than three-and-a-half games between goals before Strom converted, it only took 11 minutes for the Pride to score their next goal. After starting the attack, Jenkins continued her run into the Louisville box. Tymrak received the ball and quickly played it forward. The Louisville defense tried to step up on Jenkins, but Gemma Bonner kept her onside. Jenkins’ first touch with her right foot curled a shot around Lund and in for the equalizing goal.

“We said at halftime we knew it was coming,” Strom said about scoring two quick goals. “And once we got one they were gonna keep falling.”

Louisville nearly took the lead back in the 78th minute. Tymrak’s foul on DeMelo just outside the box set up a set piece from a similar distance and angle to the DeMelo goal. This time Ekic was the only one around the ball. The first-half goal scorer’s strike appeared to be headed inside the near post, but McLeod made an excellent diving save, knocking it away.

Two minutes later, the Pride nearly took their first lead of the game. Tymrak played Jenkins through, in a ball similar to the one that resulted in Jenkins’ goal. The forward attempted to play the ball low to the far corner, but Lund did well to get down and make the save with her right foot.

As time wound down, both teams were looking for a winner. Despite having gone down 2-0 in the second half, the Pride felt that they could come away with three points.

“I thought we were gonna get one in the end,” Strom said. “And it would have been nice to get.”

“The last 10 minutes I kept yelling to people like three more minutes, three minutes,” Celia added. “Give me three more minutes, because I really did think that we had it in us and I could taste it.”

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the final minutes and the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The Pride ended the game with more possession (54.4%-45.6%) but the game was statistically very even. Louisville had more shots (15-13), but the teams had the same number of shots on goal (8-8), corners (4-4), and crosses (16-16).

“Bittersweet,” Hines said about the result. “I think the team showed a lot of courage to come back from 2-0 down. You know, we’ve been in this position too often. But I felt that we didn’t deserve to lose that game today. I think that players played terrific. They played how we wanted to play. We wanted to control the game with our passing and move in and create goal-scoring opportunities. Obviously we need to work on the last part of that. But I can’t fault their attitude after this week. From one day to the game today has been first class.”

Despite only getting a draw in what was technically a home game, the point ends a three-game losing streak in which the team was outscored 14-0. It also ended a goalless run of 329 consecutive minutes.

The Pride have a short week as they take the field again on Friday night against the Houston Dash at Exploria Stadium. The team will be looking to build off this result to get their first win since May 18 in North Carolina.

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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