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Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Claim First Home Win This Season

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The Orlando Pride (3-5-3, 12 points) found a second-half goal to beat the Houston Dash (4-4-3, 15 points) 1-0 at Exploria Stadium, ending a six-game winless streak. It was also the Pride’s first win at home in 2022. The difference was a deflected ball off the head of Kylie Strom in the 79th minute that bounced in off defender Ally Prisock.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes from the team that drew Racing Louisville 2-2 last weekend in Daytona. Kerry Abello joined the starting lineup in place of Thais Reiss, who moved to the bench. Carrie Lawrence also came into the starting lineup, replacing Toni Pressley at center back. It was Lawrence’s first start since May 27 against the Washington Spirit.

The back line in front of goalkeeper Erin McLeod consisted of Celia, Megan Montefusco, Lawrence, and Strom. Viviana Villacorta and Jordyn Listro were in the midfield behind Meggie Dougherty Howard, Erika Tymrak, and Abello, with Darian Jenkins up top.

Houston came into this game missing 10 players. Elizabeth Eddy was out injured and seven players were on international duty at the Concacaf W Championship and Euro 2022.

The Dash created the first chance of the game off the kickoff. Former Pride player Marisa Viggiano drew a foul by Dougherty Howard, and Emily Ogle sent the free kick into the box looking for Ebony Salmon. However, the forward hit it poorly and the shot went wide of the target.

The first opportunity for the Pride came in the ninth minute when Dougherty Howard looked for Jenkins in the box. However, Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell did well to come out and collect the ball before Jenkins could get to it. A minute later, Dougherty Howard blocked a Dash pass and it went right to Jenkins. The striker was able to find enough space to take a shot, but it was blocked.

The best first-half chance for the Pride came in the 17th minute. Abello found Jenkins on the right side. The forward quickly took a shot on that skipped past the defender and the diving Campbell. However, it drifted just wide of the far post.

In the 21st minute, Tymrak found Jenkins on the left. The forward had Strom outside, which would’ve been the safer ball, but carried it inside instead. She found enough space for a shot but it was from distance and right at Campbell.

The Pride had another great chance in the 35th minute when Strom found Abello on the left side of the box. The midfielder beat her defender to create a shot, but it was from a tight angle and right at Campbell, who made the catch.

The Pride continued to press forward, creating shots by Jenkins and Dougherty Howard. But these shots were from distance and right at Campbell, creating no trouble for the Houston goalkeeper.

Similarly, the Dash had a pair of late shots by Bri Visalli and Haley Hanson, but they were from distance and right at McLeod.

At halftime, the Pride had more possession (50.8%-49.2%), shots (8-3), shots on target (5-2), corners (3-1), and crosses (3-1). But most of their attempts were right at Campbell, allowing Houston to get out of the first half even.

“We talked before the game about starting fast, putting the emphasis on Houston, making it uncomfortable early on,” Hines said after the game. “And I thought we did that. We created some good opportunities but not clear-cut opportunities. I think we could have been a little bit more patient in the attacking third rather than just going straight towards goal. We hit some out-of-range shots, which a player like Jane Campbell, she’s going to deal with them pretty easily.”

“I think we were really positive,” Jenkins said about the first half. “I think we had Houston facing their own goal most of the half. I think our mindset going into the second half was just to keep building on those opportunities. Keep taking those shots, one’s bound to go in, follow up on the ball. The more you shoot, the more you’re likely to score. So we just kept that going and then we got the goal.”

It appeared as though the Pride had a breakaway in the 53rd minute when Villacorta sent Jenkins through in the Dash half. However, after a brief hesitation, the assistant referee raised the flag signaling offside, which appeared on the replay to be the wrong decision.

Jenkins had another chance in the 63rd minute, when she received the ball from Celia near the top of the box. The forward took aim but got under the ball and it sailed well over the target and into the upper level of the stands.

Good, quick passing through the midfield by Strom and substitute Courtney Petersen set up Jenkins for a cross in the 73rd minute. She had Mikayla Cluff, who came on for Dougherty Howard at halftime, in the box, but the cross was over her head and the substitute had no chance of reaching it.

The Pride finally broke through in the 79th minute. Lawrence played a long ball into the box, which found the head of Strom. The defender attempted to flick the ball on for Cluff, who was closer to goal, but it went off the leg of Prisock and in for the game’s first goal.

The goal was initially credited to Strom, but was later changed officially to a Prisock own goal.

It was the first time that the Pride had taken the lead in seven games. The last time the Pride scored first in a game was on May 18 against the North Carolina Courage in Cary, NC. Sydney Leroux opened the scoring in the fourth minute of that game, which was also the Pride’s most recent win.

Following the goal, Houston went on the attack and put pressure on the Pride. It started with a shot by Salmon that was blocked by Celia. Listro had a chance to clear, but it went right to Ryan Gareis, who sent the shot wide.

Despite Orlando having a goal kick, Houston quickly regained possession of the ball. Viggiano found Salmon for another shot, but she sent that one well above the target.

“You’re always most vulnerable after you score and we switched off,” Hines said. “So that’s something that we’re going to talk about in review is that, as soon as we all cross that halfway line, we’re ready to go. And we were disorganized after we scored. It was like a moment of relief that we scored, but now we have to switch on straightaway.”

The hosts should’ve doubled their lead in the 82nd minute. Petersen sent a cross in from the left that was blocked by Prisock. However, the clearance attempt went right to Chelsee Washington with plenty of space. The second-half substitute should’ve gone for the far post, where there was plenty of space, but shot it right at Campbell, who made the stop at the near post.

With time winding down, the Dash pushed forward in an attempt to score an equalizer. Three minutes into injury time, Hanson sent a ball into the box for Gareis. The latter went down in the box after a collision but the referee waved play on. It was the best opportunity the Dash had in the second half.

The Pride ended the game with more possession (52.2%-47.8%), shots (11-7), shots on target (7-2), corners (5-1), and crosses (16-6) in what was arguably their best performance of the year. However, the most important fact was that they came away with a 1-0 win 

“I think the players understand today that winning is hard. It’s hard work,” Hines said. “It’s a collective effort. They had a real grit and determination on and off the ball. And, you know, Houston causes some problems. So we had to try and figure it out. They clogged the middle — the areas that we like to exploit — so we had to get some thinking at halftime on how we’re going to create more goal-scoring opportunities. We deserve a goal. It was a lucky goal, but we deserved it. We deserved the win last week. We deserved the win this week. So that little bit of luck on our side.”

“It’s just a big, huge win for us,” Jenkins added. “It shows that all of our hard work really paid off. I think we’ve definitely dealt with some trials and tribulations up until this point, and it just shows how resilient we are as players, and our coaching staff, and being able to work through all of this. And really, like I’ve said before, you can really see the results of us just working through this new identity that we’re developing with this club and us as players. So, it’s amazing to feel all that hard work pay off and finally get the winning result.”

The win broke a six-game winless streak that dated back to May 18 and was the team’s first home win of the season, including the NWSL Challenge Cup. The most recent home win prior to tonight’s game was on Sept. 11, 2021, a 3-1 win over Racing Louisville.


After a short week, the Pride now have a bit of a break and will look to build on this result when they travel to take on the Washington Spirit next Sunday afternoon.

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 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 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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