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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

Orlando Pride Sign Kylie Strom to Three-Year Deal

The Pride have signed starting left back and free agent Kylie Strom to a new three-year contract.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed starting left back Kylie Strom to a new three-year contract. The defender became a free agent following the 2023 NWSL season, but the Pride said they were in negotiations to bring her back.

“Kylie is coming off the best season of her professional career, a season in which she was one of the most underrated defenders in the league, and we believe she deserves much more recognition than she’s received,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “It means a lot to us that she has not only seen what we are building here, but she has completely bought into it and has chosen to stay in Orlando. She is a vital leader within the locker room and on the field, and we couldn’t be more excited to keep her onboard. Our goal is to build off last season’s success and ensuring her return was a key aspect of that.” 

The Endicott, NY, native joined the Pride from Spanish side Atletico Madrid on July 5, 2021, where she spent two seasons. Her initial contract with Orlando was a two-year deal with an option for a third year. The club picked up her option after the 2022 NWSL season and she became a free agent this off-season. However, she says her intention was to remain in purple and be a part of what the club is building.

“I have said it since the beginning of last year, what we are building here throughout the Pride is really special,” Strom said in a club press release. “I think the team that we have, from the players to the people, is all really exciting and I am just excited to continue to be a part of it. I think we can achieve a lot after coming up just short last year. Moving forward, we have learned and grown and have a lot to look forward to.” 

In her first three seasons with the Pride, Strom has made 58 appearances in all competitions, with 46 starts, and has played 4,163 minutes. She made her debut on July 9, 2021 in a 1-1 draw against Racing Louisville. Her Pride career began on the bench, but she took over the starting left back job from Courtney Petersen midway through last season. This year, she started 26 of the team’s 28 games in all competitions and all 22 of the Pride’s leagues games.

The 30-year-old had a breakout year in 2023, starting 26 games and recording 2,281 minutes. She had a goal and an assist, playing the second-most minutes on the team behind center back Emily Madril. Additionally, she was named to the NWSL Team of the Month for both May and August.

What It Means for Orlando

The signing of Strom means that the Pride will have their starting back five returning next season. They previously signed goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse and center back Madril to new contracts, so the next one up is right back Haley McCutcheon. Everyone else is under contract through at least the 2025 NWSL season (McCutcheon is currently signed through 2024).

Finding the right defensive unit has been a struggle for Pride Head Coach Seb Hines since he took over the role on an interim basis midway through the 2022 season. But he settled on Strom, Madril, Rafaelle, and McCutcheon in front of Moorhouse last season. The Pride’s 28 goals conceded last year was sixth in the 12-team league, but they showed improvements as the season went on. They only gave up multiple goals once in their last five games, though it was a key 3-2 loss to Racing Louisville, eventually knocking them out of the playoffs.

Regardless, the team sees this defensive unit as essential to the team’s success next season and there was little question Orlando wanted Strom back. The only free agent from last year’s team now is defensive midfielder Jordyn Listro, who is a restricted free agent. With the club having traded Mikayla Cluff to the Utah Royals for expansion draft protection, bringing Listro back likely becomes the club’s new top priority.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Messiah Bright

The Pride’s rookie striker made a name for herself in 2023.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride selected Messiah Bright with the ninth pick of the second round (21st overall) in the 2023 NWSL draft, and she may have been the steal of that draft. The Pride then signed Bright to a three-year deal on March 2. The Dallas, TX native started all 102 matches she played at TCU during her college career.

Let’s take a look at the rookie striker’s 2023 season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Bright appeared in 22 regular-season matches, starting 16, logging a total of 1,379 minutes. She scored six goals on 41 shots with 12 on target and 10 blocked. She did not have an assist, but she made seven key passes. Bright completed 184 of her 273 total passes (67.4%). She was accurate on 52.7% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 83.7% in her own half. She was three of four on her long passes (75%). She also completed two of her 25 crosses. Defensively, she made one interception and five blocks, won 14 of her 26 tackles (53.8%), won 99 of her 211 duels (46.6%), and won 38 of her 64 aerial duels (59.4%). She also committed 20 fouls, suffered six fouls, and was booked twice.

The 23-year-old made six appearances in NWSL Challenge Cup play, starting three games and playing 307 total minutes. Bright scored one goal on seven total shots with three on target. She attempted four crosses, though none were successful, and registered no assists. Bright completed 48 of her 72 total passes (66.7%). She was accurate on 58.5% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 73.9% in her own half.  Bright was one for three on her long passes (33.3%), and made nine key passes. Defensively, she won two of her four tackles (50%), 20 of her 45 duels (44.4%), and eight of her 14 aerial duels (57.1%). She also committed four fouls, suffered one foul, and was not booked in the tournament.

Best Game

Bright’s best match was the 5-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Aug 20. She scored the first brace of her professional career with the first goal coming in the 23rd minute on this absolutely stunning volley into the upper right corner of the goal.

Bright followed up that goal with her second early in the second half. In the 49th minute she received a gorgeous through ball from Marta, went around the keeper and then calmly put it inside the left post past the surging defenders. 

Bright only played 60 minutes, but she made the most of each minute. Her goals came on four shots with three on target. She also completed seven of her eight passes (85.7%) on 19 touches, committed no fouls, suffered no fouls, and was not booked.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Bright a composite rating of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 season. She had a very solid rookie season, but she was still a rookie and thus made some mistakes. Bright has all the tools to be a great striker in the NWSL and perhaps eventually for the USWNT. Given this was Bright’s first season, she did not receive a grade in 2022.

2024 Outlook

Bright is signed through the 2025 season, though if she continues to develop as expected she may get a new contract before then. She will be a consistent starter for the Pride in 2024 as she was in 2023, and I expect her production to increase despite teams now knowing what she is capable of doing. Her size and strength can’t be taught, though she can learn to use those attributes more effectively.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Emily Madril

The first-year defender played almost every single minute available in the 2023 season.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride selected former Florida State defender Emily Madril with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft. The 5-foot-7 Navarre, FL native decided to forego her last season of eligibility in Tallahassee to begin her professional career. A two-time national champion (2018 and 2021), Madril left FSU, signing a contract with the National Women’s Soccer League through 2025 and was loaned to Swedish side BK Hacken FF.

Following a standout first NWSL season in which she played all but three minutes in the regular season, Madril was rewarded by the Pride with a new contract through 2026.

Let’s take a look at her first season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Madril started all 22 of the Pride’s regular-season games in 2023, leading all rookies in minutes played (1,977), and coming off only moments before the end of the club’s season finale against the Houston Dash when the Pride were desperately trying to score a game winner to stay in playoff contention. The defender did not record a goal or an assist on the season, attempting just one shot, which was off target. Madril completed 814 of her 953 passes (85.4%), 46 of her 103 long passes (44.7%), and one of her three crosses, while recording five key passes. There wasn’t much drop-off in her passing rate related to position on the field, as Madril completed 88.7% of her passes in the defensive half and 75.6% in the attacking half. Defensively, she added 19 blocks and 19 interceptions, won 17 of her 28 tackles (60.7%), and was successful on 76 of her 122 duels (62.3%). She also won 54.5% of her 33 aerial duels. She won 23 fouls while conceding only nine and was booked twice during the regular season.

In the NWSL Challenge Cup, Madril appeared in five of the team’s six matches (all starts), and played 450 minutes. She did not score a goal or assist on one and did not attempt a shot. She completed 193 of her 224 passes (86.2%), including 13 of her 25 long passes (52%). Madril passed at an 89% rate in her own half and a 78.3% in the attacking half, recording one key pass, but not attempting a cross in the competition. She recorded 10 blocks and four interceptions on defense, winning 55.6% of her tackle attempts, 68.1% of her duels, and 71.4% of her aerial duels. She committed five fouls, drawing six on the opposition, and was not booked in the tournament.

Best Game

With a number of standout games to choose from, I’ll go with the Pride’s 1-0 win over OL Reign on July 7. Paired with Megan Montefusco as the center back tandem, Madril and her teammates limited the Reign to just five shot attempts (two on target) across the 90+ minutes of the game. Madril had 55 touches and completed 89.1% of her 46 passes. She recorded two tackles and drew two fouls on her opponents while not committing any. Madril and her teammates helped Messiah Bright’s 16th-minute strike hold up over the remainder of the match without constantly being under siege. It was a complete performance and one of the team’s best defensive efforts of the year. It was also just the Pride’s second win ever against OL Reign.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Madril a composite rating of 6.5 for the 2023 season. There were several shaky moments early in the year for the first-year NWSL defender that prevented that score from rising higher (such as conceding a penalty against Angel City), but as the season progressed and she became more comfortable with Seb Hines’ system, the league, and her teammates, Madril was a solid player on the Pride’s back line. She showed her versatility in being able to play both center back positions as well as right back for a couple of matches. A 6.5 is a good rating for a first-year NWSL center back, and Madril showed that she has the potential to develop into one of the league’s best defenders.

2024 Outlook

Madril is obviously highly regarded by the organization and has a huge upside. She has expressed on multiple occasions how happy she is to be with the Pride, and I would expect her to be in Orlando until/unless the Pride get an offer they can’t refuse from a bigger club or if Madril decides to leave once she’s eligible for free agency. Madril should be a starter on the back line for the Pride in 2024 barring something unforseen.

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