Connect with us

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Kansas City Current: Final Score 2-2 as Pride Hold On for Road Point



hThe Orlando Pride (3-5-5, 15 points) drew 2-2 with the Kansas City Current (5-4-4 19 points) tonight at Children’s Mercy Park. Celia gave the Pride the lead in the 25th minute and Julie Doyle doubled the advantage just after halftime. But the hosts came storming back with goals by Elyse Bennett and CeCe Kizer, pulling out a draw.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made two changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the Washington Spirit two weeks ago. Carrie Lawrence replaced Toni Pressley in the starting lineup after missing the Washington game in COVID protocol. Darian Jenkins missed tonight’s game after being listed as questionable with a knee injury. She was replaced up top by Doyle.

The back four in front of captain Erin McLeod consisted of Kylie Strom, Megan Montefusco, Lawrence, and Celia. Jordyn Listro and Meggie Dougherty Howard were in the defensive midfield behind Kerry Abello, Erika Tymrak, and Viviana Villacorta, with Doyle up top.

Neither team got off to a good start in this game with both unable to maintain any possession in the opposing team’s half of the field. The Pride got the first opportunity in the seventh minute when Taylor Leach took down Doyle near the Current box. Strom sent the ball into the box, but it was headed out for a corner kick. The ensuing short corner was right to a Kansas City defender who cleared it away.

The hosts should’ve taken the lead in the 15th minute when Victoria Pickett sent Kristen Hamilton through into the box. The forward was one-on-one with McLeod, but the Pride goalkeeper did well to come off her line and block the shot. The rebound went to Lo’eau LaBonta but McLeod got right back up and knocked that away too.

It seemed as though the Current had taken control of the game, but the Pride shocked everyone by scoring first. In the 25th minute, Tymrak sent a cross into the box. It was a soft ball that most expected to be cleared away, but Celia flew in from her right back position and headed it past goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

So unexpected was the header that Franch barely moved. It was the defender’s second career NWSL goal and her first as a member of the Pride. Her only other goal came on July 5, 2019 as a member of OL Reign against the Portland Thorns.

“I found myself on the left side, which Seb kind of tells us to be fluid, so I was kind of on the left side,” Tymrak said about setting up the goal. “And I think I was passing with Bello and Meggie and I took a look up and I saw Celia running into the box. So I kind of just looked at it and her finish was unreal. And it definitely silenced the crowd “

Late in the first half, the Pride committed two fouls near the top of the box that provided Kansas City with some good chances. In the 39th minute, Listro took down Pickett, resulting in a booking and a free kick. LaBonta tapped the set piece to Hailie Mace but the midfielder sent the shot wide.

In the 43rd minute, Lawrence was called for a foul on Mace. Again, LaBonta and Mace stood over the ball. Whether it was confusion or an attempt to trick the defense, both players ran past the ball before Mace sent the ball into the box. But it went wide of the target.

At the half, the Pride had more possession (52%-48%) and the half’s only corner kick. Despite holding onto a 1-0 lead, the Pride had fewer shots (4-1) and shots on target (2-1) in the first 45 minutes.

The second half got off to a surprising start as the Pride went right down the field and doubled their lead. It started when Doyle sent Abello into the box. The midfielder collided with Elizabeth Ball and Franch, leaving Franch lying on the ground. Dougherty Howard ended up with the ball, sending it across for Doyle who put it into the empty net for the rookie’s first professional goal.

“I remember Kerry Abello and Meggie doing something, winning the ball, working hard,” Doyle said about the play. “And then I knew that it popped out to Meggie and I had to make that run that Seb kept getting on me this week for, being in the width of the goal. So I just got there and it came right to me and I hit it left foot and I think I got a charley horse on the right side of my leg, but it went in.”

Following the goal, the Current dominated play. Coming on as a halftime substitute, Bennett was effective on the right, taking Pride defenders one-on-one and creating chances for herself and for teammates. As a result, Kansas City had the Pride on their heels and eventually got back into the game.

In the 50th minute, McLeod nearly made a mistake that cost her team a goal. After the ball was played back to the goalkeeper, she attempted to send it up field. Meanwhile, LaBonta was charging into the box. The clearance slammed off LaBonta’s face and went just over the crossbar.

Five minutes later, the Current had a good opportunity with numbers. LaBonta carried the ball into the Pride third and looked to either side for an overlapping run. However, she didn’t see anyone coming quick enough and fired on target. It was a low, long distance shot and McLeod didn’t have any trouble.

The Current got one of the goals back in the 57th minute. Bennett dribbled into the box from the right and took Lawrence on. She was able to turn the center back enough to create space for a shot. Despite the tight angle, the ball was on target towards the back post. McLeod got a hand to it, but not enough as it went inside the far post, cutting the Pride lead in half.

“They changed shape and they changed formation and we have to adapt to how we press effectively in that moment,” Hines said about the goal. “It was a domino effect, which allowed Bennett to get in behind and drive out our center backs.”

In the 63rd minute, Bennett got into the box on a run that was similar to her goal. She took a low shot that got underneath McLeod, but it was cleared off the line by Lawrence.

A minute later, Bennett and her teammates felt as though she had earned a penalty. After receiving the ball in the box, she turned Strom the wrong way. The right back attempted to get her heel to the ball to get it off the dangerous attacker and Bennett went to the ground. However, as Bennett was on her knees with her arms up, referee Greg Dopka didn’t see any contact from Strom and waved play on.

The Pride nearly regained their two-goal advantage in the 72nd minute when Bennett charged into Strom just outside the Kansas City box. The free kick was towards the back post where Mikayla Cluff, who came on in the 69th minute for Tymrak, headed it right into the legs of a defender. It went right back to Cluff who fired on goal but Franch made the save.

The Pride had another opportunity for a third goal in the 74th minute when a turnover by the Current gave Cluff the ball in the Kansas City half of the field. The midfielder found Dougherty Howard coming forward and the latter shot from the top of the box. However, the shot was right into the arms of Franch.

Kansas City found the equalizer in the 82nd minute. LaBonta sent a long ball over the top for CeCe Kizer, who was running alongside Montefusco. Kizer got behind the center back, forcing McLeod to come off her line. However, slight indecision meant that Kizer was able to beat McLeod to the ball, chipping it over her and in to tie the game at 2-2.

“They were hungry, they’re a great team, and they had a lot of momentum,” Tymrak said about the comeback. “So they definitely came out hungrier than we were. We probably got a little complacent.”

After coming back from a two-goal deficit and having the home crowd on their side, the hosts pushed for the win while the Pride tried to hold on for a draw. The Current nearly found the winner two minutes into second-half injury time.

LaBonta found Hamilton making a run into the box, but McLeod did well to make the stop. However, she allowed a rebound in free space which Hamilton ran onto. Fortunately, McLeod was able to jump on the ball before Hamilton could knock it in, allowing the Pride to hold on for a 2-2 draw.

In the end, the hosts had the better of the game. Kansas City had more possession (54.1%-45.9%), shots (13-7), shots on target (7-4), corners (2-1), and crosses (12-10). Despite having a two-goal advantage in the second half, the Pride were somewhat fortunate to get a point.

“Disappointed because we put ourselves in a great position to win the game,” Hines said after the game. “We knew how important this game was as it comes to a certain playoff position and we’re chasing to get into them playoff positions and we said before the game that we want to walk away from here with three points.

“Really pleased with the first half. Took it to Kansas, who are on good form right now. I think now they are unbeaten in eight. Got our goal, started the second half extremely well, got another goal. And I think the evolution of us will be, when we are in games, to weather storms and when the opponent starts pushing more players forward, can we get ourselves out of them situations where we can defend effectively and attack with penetration passes and play our style of play. Even though the emphasis is on them to try and get an equalizer and get back into the game.”

“I think all of us are pretty disappointed,” Tymrak said. “We really wanted three points, especially as we push for the playoffs. I think there are positives and what we can take away from it. Two goals on the road and a point, but I don’t think any of us are happy with that.”

Both teams came into this game with unbeaten runs. While the Pride were on a three-game unbeaten run, the Current had gotten a result in their last seven games and entered on a three-game winning streak. The Pride have now drawn three of their last four games and continue to claim points, something that seemed unlikely when the team was thrashed by the Portland Thorns on June 19.

The Pride will return home next Sunday night as they welcome Angel City to Exploria Stadium.

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.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

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.

Continue Reading

Orlando Pride

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!

Continue Reading