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

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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

Orlando Pride Sign Claire Winter and Kenna Caldwell to National Team Replacement Contracts

The Pride have signed Claire Winter and Kenna Caldwell as National Team Teplacement Players during the Olympics.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride announced the signing of midfielder Claire Winter and goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell today to National Team Replacement Contracts. The pair will join the team during the upcoming NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup while six players are away at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Both players will be available when the team begins the new competition on Saturday night in North Carolina.

“Kenna and Claire have both put in a massive amount of work and we’re excited to reward them with these contracts,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Kenna has added further competition and depth to our goalkeeping corps since joining us in preseason. Claire, although she joined us only a few weeks ago, has already established herself within the group and continues to push herself and everyone around her to perform. Both athletes are infectiously positive and have integrated seamlessly into our environment. We’re thankful for their contributions and look forward to helping them further develop their game during this period.”

Caldwell spent five years at Texas A&M between 2019 and 2023, making 72 appearances (all starts) and recording 6,309 minutes. She recorded 231 saves during her collegiate career and saved 231 of her 689 shots faced for a save percentage of 74.8%. Her 78 goals conceded in 72 games gave her a goals-against average of 1.11 per game.

Despite a solid collegiate career, Caldwell went undrafted in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She joined the Pride as a non-roster invitee during preseason and continued with the team in a training role. However, she was unable to supplant Anna Moorhouse, McKinley Crone, or Sofia Manner.

Winter is a veteran, having played in multiple leagues and previously signed a National Team Replacement Player contract with another club. Following her collegiate career, Winter played for Spanish club RCD Espanyol de Barcelona in 2018 and 2019 as well as Puerto Rico Sol FC in 2020 before making her NWSL debut for NJ/NY Gotham FC as a National Team Replacement Player in April 2021. After her stint in New Jersey, the California native played for Treaty United FC in Ireland and Danish club Thisted FC in 2023 before joining the Pride a few weeks ago.

Prior to her professional career, Winter played collegiately at UCLA. From 2013 to 2017, she made 54 appearances with 27 starts, recording 2,381 minutes. The midfielder scored three goals with one assist while at the NCAA women’s soccer powerhouse under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride will have seven players at the 2024 Summer Olympics (Emily Sams with the United States; Marta, Adriana, Angelina, and Rafaelle with Brazil; and Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda with Zambia), so they had some space open on their roster to sign replacements during the inaugural Summer Cup.

Winter provides the versatility desired by Carter and Pride Head Coach Seb Hines with the ability to play both in the midfield and defense. The veteran played both positions in college and it was a reason why she was wanted by professional clubs. This might provide her with opportunities on the field since the Pride will be losing midfielders and a pair of defenders to the Olympics.

The surprising signing is Caldwell because goalkeeper is not a position of need. Moorhouse joined the England Women’s National Team for its final European qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland on July 12 and Sweden on July 16, but will return for the Summer Cup. Neither Crone nor Manner will be away, so the Pride will have four goalkeepers for the tournament.

While Winter fills a position of need, Caldwell’s signing likely a reward for her performances in training all season. The Pride have built depth at every position over the past two years and, despite losing seven players, aren’t in need at any position. Since the league is taking a break for the Olympics and the Summer Cup is only three scheduled games, the club has the opportunity to reward a player like Caldwell.

It’s unlikely that either of these players will see significant minutes during the Summer Cup. Hines will use the absences to provide playing time for reserves that haven’t seen the field much, which could be crucial as the Pride look to win the NWSL Shield and their first-ever trophy. But the signings serve to add depth, and are a reward for their hard work during training and potentially an opportunity to earn future contracts with the club.

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Orlando Pride

Barbra Banda is On Pace to Shatter Multiple NWSL Scoring Records

There is a blueprint to number 22 moving to the top of the queue.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

On Monday, The Mane Land’s Sam Denker wrote an excellent piece detailing how the Pride could (will) win the 2024 NWSL Shield. One of the primary reasons for the Pride’s undefeated start has been the offensive prowess of Barbra Banda, who in only 918 minutes of NWSL play has already amassed 17 goal contributions (12 goals, 5 assists). As someone who has followed the NWSL closely since the Pride joined the league, 17 goal contributions, 12 goals, and five assists all felt like pretty high numbers to me, so I pulled up my spreadsheets and started looking at where those ranked in NWSL history. I then extrapolated out where Banda would be by the end of the season if she continued at her current pace, and…yeah, you will want to read on. As Kerry Abello has been known to say, vamos.

While the NWSL has existed since 2013, there have only been 10 completed seasons in 12 years due to the pandemic in 2020 and because the 2024 season is still going. Every team in the NWSL has played 16 of its 26 games thus far — approximately 62% of the season (I know you all did that math in your head too). During those other 10 completed NWSL seasons teams played different numbers of matches, as few as 20 in 2015 as many as 24 during four different seasons. As a matter of comparison of yearly performances, we will look at it two different ways: actual total counts and then per 90 minutes played counts, which helps to standardize the different numbers of games played during different years. Let’s start with actual totals goals scored (all data courtesy of fbref.com, powered by Opta):

A few notes on this chart:

  • This is the all-time ranking for goals scored in a NWSL season and Banda, after 62% of the 2024 season, is already in the top 15.
  • It may seem strange to see Kansas City and Current listed under Team, as well as Sky Blue, but this chart, and all others in this article, reflects the team name during the given year.
  • Sam Kerr was, and still is, a powerhouse. I am glad she plays in another league and the Pride do not have play against her anymore.
  • Banda is one behind Marta for the Pride’s single-season record. Methinks that record is going to be broken this season.
  • Last but not least, the Pride as a team all deserve credit for having Banda on this list, as it takes an excellent team offense to have an individual player get the opportunity to score a lot of goals. Six different players have assisted on her goals this year and four others have secondary assists.

The first note in the list above made reference to the fact that, again, we are not even two-thirds of the way through the season and Banda is already in the top 15 all-time for goals scored. If you look at goals scored per 90 minutes, as opposed to just total goals scored in a season, the list of top goalscorers changes quite a bit:

I believe the chart on the right is a better indication of goal-scoring prowess, since it normalizes all the data. Kerr is still a powerhouse, but the per-90-minute evaluation shoots Banda to second overall all-time. Nadia Nadim’s 2014 season does come with an asterisk as well, since she only played a total 495 minutes during that season. Now, Nadim did score seven goals, so she was unquestionably prolific during those 495 minutes, but small sample sizes often produce outlier results. Back to Banda though, let’s play out that she stays on a similar pace of 1.18 goals per 90 minutes for the rest of her 2024 season.

Thus far this season she is averaging 76.5 minutes played per game. Now, that is skewed a little bit because she suffered an injury during one game, which affected her minutes played for that game and the next game. However, because it is the actual value, let’s go with 76.5 minutes per game multiplied by 10 games, which is 765 minutes. Multiplying by 10 is so easy! 765 minutes is 8.5 iterations of 90, and Banda averages 1.18 goals per 90 minutes. At this current pace Banda would end up with…drum roll please…10.03 more goals this season. We will go ahead and round that down to 10. And, adding that to the 12 goals she has already scored, we see that if she continues at her current pace, the Pride’s No. 22 will end up with 22 goals — an increase of, you guessed it, 22% over the current record. Sam Kerr, welcome to second place.

If Banda was only a goal scorer this would still be tremendous, as you have to score goals to win games, but as I mentioned in the opening paragraph, she also already has five assists on the season. That is tied for 28th all-time, so I’ll spare you the long chart showing you everyone above her who has six assists or more. I will, however, show you the assists-per-90-minutes chart, because once again she is already near the top:

If we play out the same exercise for Banda’s final 10 games as we did earlier for goals, she would add another 4.17 assists to her five she has already accumulated, taking her to nine on the season (rounding down). A total of nine assists would rank Banda tied for second all-time with Lauren Holiday, behind only Tobin Heath’s 2016 season, when she had 10. As an aside, that is the Lauren Holiday who used to be Lauren Cheney, one of the best midfielders the U.S. Women’s National Team has ever had, a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, and a member of the 2015 World Cup champions.

Back to Banda.

By the power of extrapolation, Banda would end up with 22 goals and nine assists if she continues on her current pace. She currently has 17 goal contributions, which is good for a tie for ninth all-time. Let me repeat for emphasis, she is already tied for ninth all time and she still has about one-third of her season still to play. The all-time leaders in goal contributions in the NWSL are Kim Little during her 2014 season, when she had 16 goals and seven assists, and Kerr during her 2019 season when she had 18 goals and five assists. Banda is on pace to blow that record away, and here are two more nuggets about that:

  • Only 43 NWSL players have more than 30 goal contributions in their careers. Banda may do it in one season.
  • There have been 621 NWSL player-seasons when a player was listed as an attacking player and played 495+ minutes (495 in order to include Nadim). The average goal contributions per player for those 621 players: 5.24. So, 31 is, in my best Bob Uecker voice, juuuuussssssst a bit more than 5.24.

I think my favorite chart of all though is the one below, which takes those 621 player-seasons and shows them as a scatterplot for their actual goal contributions and their goal contributions per 90 mins:

The ideal place to be on this chart would be in the upper right, meaning that you have a high number of goal contributions (the x-axis) and a high total of goal contributions per 90 minutes (the y-axis). The light blue circle is Banda so far this season, ahead of nearly everyone in NWSL history in goal contributions per 90 minutes but still behind in total goal contributions. The orange circle is her extrapolated numbers at her current pace of goal contributions per 90 minutes. Look how big that gap is between the orange circle and every other season! Barba looks like she is living out a Jay-Z line from the The Blueprint 2, she is “so far ahead of her time she is about to start another life.”

The comparison that came to mind first for me though was a cross-sport comparison to Babe Ruth, back when there were seasons when he hit more home runs by himself than some teams hit as a team. Banda has scored more goals herself than the Utah Royals (8) and Houston Dash (11) in 2024, so it is quite possible that by the end of the season she will have matched the Babe’s feat with her feet and, if so, at that point I will use all the superlatives I can think of in writing about just how amazing, outstanding, incredible and transformational the 2024 season was for Banda.

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Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Ally Watt to New Contract

The Pride have signed forward Ally Watt through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed forward Ally Watt to a new contract. The deal runs through the 2025 NWSL season and includes a mutual option for 2026.

“Over the last couple years, we have really seen Ally grow both on the field and off. She has worked incredibly hard to be the fittest she has been in her career, and it shows through the impact she brings to our front line,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Ally brings great competitiveness to the forward position on our team, while also being a great influence on our team culture. We’re excited for her to continue pushing herself and her teammates to be the best versions of themselves, and to have her continue as a vital part of what we are building.”

The Pride initially acquired Watt in a trade with OL Reign (now the Seattle Reign) on Aug. 15, 2022 in exchange for $125,000 in Allocation Money. The Watt trade was among the first that indicated the Pride were ready to begin dealing the assets they acquired for some of their older talent traded following the 2021 season.

Watt made her debut for the Pride on Aug. 20, 2022, coming on for Julie Doyle in the 64th minute of a 2-1 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC. She scored nine minutes later to create the dream debut for her new club, earning a new deal at the end of the season that kept her with the Pride through 2024. In nearly two years in Orlando, Watt has made 46 appearances (18 starts) in all competitions, recording 1,958 minutes, six goals and two assists. She also scored the fastest goal in team history, converting after 39 seconds on Sept. 17, 2023 against the North Carolina Courage.

So far this season, Watt has made 15 appearances with seven starts, recording 657 minutes. She has scored two goals and added an assist. Her most notable game this year was on May 1, when Pride Head Coach Seb Hines switched from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-4-2, teaming Watt with Barbra Banda. Watt scored the opener and assisted on Banda’s second goal in a 4-1 win over the Courage.

“We’re building something very special here in Orlando and I am grateful that I get to continue to be a part of it,” Watt said in the club’s press release. “I feel I have only grown since I’ve been here, and I’m more than excited to keep developing my game. This team and organization are my family, and staying here in Orlando to play in front of some of the best fans makes me so happy. Vamos Pride!”

Watt was initially selected with the ninth overall pick of the 2020 NWSL Draft by the Courage out of Texas A&M. She played professionally in Australia for Melbourne City before joining North Carolina for the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. However, she tore her ACL minutes into the first game, sidelining her for an extended period.

The Courage traded the speedster before the 2021 season to the Reign, where she made five appearances after returning from injury. She became a regular in 2022, playing in 21 of the Reign’s 22 games, recording a goal and an assist, before being dealt to the Pride.

What It Means for Orlando

Whether she starts with Banda in a 4-4-2 formation or comes off the bench later in the game, Watt has proven to be a valuable part of the Pride’s success since joining the club. Injuries were a concern since she’d had a previous ACL tear, but she’s remained healthy and has continued to be one of the fastest players in the NWSL.

The forward is already having her best season with the team this year, and there are still 10 games left in the regular season. With Banda away at the Olympics, Watt should get plenty of time starting during the upcoming NWSL X Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup, providing valuable minutes.

While this signing provides depth at the forward position, Watt also has the versatility that Carter and Hines crave. In addition to playing striker, Watt’s speed has been utilized on the right side of the midfield before, matching the similarly fast Doyle on the left for a dangerous pairing. Her attributes make this signing an expected one as the Pride look to build on their historic season.

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