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Orlando Pride vs. Angel City FC: Final Score 2-2 as Pride Claim Point on Late Equalizer

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The Orlando Pride (3-5-6, 15 points) had to come back twice, but managed to pull out a 2-2 draw against Angel City FC (5-5-3, 18 points) at Exploria Stadium. Former Orlando fullback Ali Riley gave the visitors the lead just before the half but Julie Doyle came off the bench to score her second goal in as many games in the second half. Angel City responded with a goal off a set piece by Cari Roccaro, but an own goal by Paige Nielsen in second-half injury time caused the game to end in a draw.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made only two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with the Kansas City Current last weekend. Starting center back Megan Montefusco was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and replaced by Toni Pressley. Additionally, Darian Jenkins returned to the lineup, replacing Doyle. As a result, the back four behind Erin McLeod consisted of Celia, Pressley, Carrie Lawrence, and Kylie Strom. The midfield was made up of Meggie Dougherty Howard, Jordyn Listro, Erika Tymrak, Viviana Villacorta, and Kerry Abello, with Jenkins up top.

The first chance of the game was for the Pride in the fourth minute. A quick pass by Villacorta allowed Strom to find Abello in the box. The midfielder attempted a shot from the left of goal, but it skipped across the six-yard box and out for a goal kick.

In the 24th minute, Tymrak found Dougherty Howard near the box. The Pride midfielder attempted to curl the ball around Angel City goalkeeper Didi Haracic, but it was deflected out of play.

Three minutes later, Strom nearly found Tymrak in the box. It was a good run by Tymrak and a good ball through by Strom, but it was a bit too far and Haracic was able to beat the Pride midfielder to it.

Tymrak had a great chance in the 29th minute when Strom gave her the ball inside the Angel City box. The midfielder should’ve been able to put the shot on target, but it somehow managed to flick up onto her arm. The referee didn’t call a handball, but it provided Angel City with an opportunity to clear.

After messing up her first golden opportunity, Tymrak was given a chance to redeem herself in the 39th minute. She received the ball in nearly the exact position as her 29th-minute chance. This shot was hit towards the goal but was well over the crossbar.

Angel City didn’t have many great chances in the first half, but made the Pride pay for missing theirs. In the 40th minute, Riley received the ball on the left. It appeared as though she would attempt a cross, but instead went for goal and beat McLeod to the far post.

After failing to score in her 24 appearances with the Pride, the right back has now scored twice in her last three games with Angel City.

The Pride did have one last chance to equalize before the end of the half. Jenkins cut inside from the right and into the box, creating enough space to get a shot off. But it was blocked and the Pride went into the break down 1-0.

The visitors had slightly more possession in the first half (50.9%-49.1%) but the Pride had more shots (7-4), crosses (8-2), and corners (2-0) in the first 45 minutes.

“Seb just told us to play with courage,” Abello said about the halftime talk. “You know, we need to want the ball. Everyone needs to want to get on the ball and turn and go forward. And not that we weren’t playing with courage, but I think we needed even more of a drive and Seb, he believed in us.”

The visitors nearly doubled their lead right after the break. Coming on as a halftime substitute, Simone Charley was one-on-one with Lawrence heading into the Pride box after a long ball by Megan Reid. The center back fell, allowing Charley to be free in on goal. However, she lost control of the ball, allowing the Pride to escape the dangerous situation.

The Pride should’ve had the equalizer in the 49th minute when some nice moves by Abello created enough space to send the ball into the box. The cross sailed over the head of Haracic to Jenkins at the back post with a wide open goal in front of her. She headed the ball down, but it was straight down, resulting in it bouncing over the crossbar instead of into the open net from just a few feet in front of the goal line.

In the 63rd minute, Tymrak played a ball into the box, looking for Abello at the near post. The ball was a bit too far for the midfielder and Tyler Lussi knocked it out of play. The ensuing corner was to the near post where Celia and Lussi came together. However, the ball bounced out of play and Angel City was able to clear.

The Pride got their equalizer a minute later. It started with a Doyle cross that was headed on towards goal by Tymrak. The shot was blocked and ended up with Savannah McCaskill at the top of the box facing the goal. Pressured by Villacorta, McCaskill played it back to Nielsen. However, Doyle beat her to the ball and shot into the roof of the net.

It was Doyle’s second goal of the season and her second in two games. She also scored the second goal last week in the Pride’s 2-2 draw with the Current.

“She’s been terrific,” Hines said about Doyle’s current goal streak. “She was fortunate enough to start off having given a really good performance against Kansas, but these are the decisions you have to make as a head coach. So she made an immediate impact and that’s all we can ask. When players come onto the field as a substitute, can you make an impact in a game? And she certainly did that today. With getting a goal and making difficult runs, finding the spaces.

“We’re talking about a rookie. We’re improving her, developing her. You know, going through a slight bit of adversity, how are you going to react not starting? And she showed today, her reaction was brilliant.”

Angel City didn’t wait long to answer, doing so in the 72nd minute. First, Charley got her head to a Lussi cross, putting it on target. McLeod did well to get down and knock it out of play for a corner kick.

The ensuing corner kick was flicked on by the head of Nielsen. It landed at the feet of Villacorta and Roccaro. Villacorta was unable to get her foot to the ball and Roccaro quickly shot on target, putting it past McLeod and giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.

The Pride nearly found another equalizer in the 79th minute when Strom played Abello behind the Angel City defense. The midfielder shot with her second touch, but sent it just wide of the post.

The hosts had another good opportunity in the 87th minute when Mikayla Cluff was fouled by Jun Endo. Thais Reiss stepped up to take the free kick but sent it straight into the wall. The ball bounced right back to Reiss, who sent a second shot into the wall, allowing Angel City to clear.

The Pride continued to pressure, looking for a second equalizer. They were given a boost when the fourth official held up five minutes in injury time. They didn’t need much of those five minutes as they found a second equalizer inside the first minute of added time.

The team worked the ball out to Abello on the left, with the final ball coming from Reiss. Abello quickly sent a hard cross into the box, where Doyle was making a run and Cluff was heading towards the back post. Nielsen got to the ball before either Pride attacker, but knocked the ball into her own net, evening the game at 2-2.

“I was just so thankful,” Abello said about having a part in the equalizer. “I was definitely a little disappointed at some of my chances missed earlier in the game. So my one goal is just to make a difference, make something happen. You know, it’s not always going to be pretty and at the end of the day, it was a deflection but I was happy with the chance I took to just drive across the goal.”

After the equalizer, the Pride continued on the attack. Two minutes into injury time, Doyle made a good run toward the end line and won a corner. The ensuing set piece was knocked out of play for a second corner, but that one was cleared away.

The final chance of the game for the Pride came in the fourth minute of added time when Jasmyne Spencer fouled Reiss at the top of the box. Tymrak took the free kick but sent it wide.

Despite barely hanging on to a draw in the final minutes, it was Angel City that had the last chance of the game. Endo found former Pride player Dani Weatherholt in the box and the midfielder shot on goal. But it was right at McLeod who made the save and ended the game.

Other than the scoreline, it was a dominant performance by the Pride. They ended the game with more possession (52.6%-47.4%), shots (16-9), corners (7-4), and crosses (28-9). The difference in the game was the lack of shooting precision as the Pride only put one shot on target and Angel City put four on frame.

“Entertaining. Happening more often than not,” Hines said about the game. “I said in pregame that what you’ll find today is two teams that are both wanting to win, needing to win to get three points. We’re obviously chasing Angel City. Obviously chasing the playoffs as well. So I felt that we dominated the game in possession. Even out of possession I think we’re in controlled spaces, that they were patient in trying to pull us out of positions. But you know, we’re allowing the right people to have time and space on the ball. And there was a few little adjustments that we had to make at halftime. We had to increase the energy on our shifts across to keep them spaces tight and the players did that. But the game is all down to goals and we created a lot of good opportunities to score. We have to take them and when we do take them, we’re going to be even more of a threat than we showed today.”

This draw is another point for a team pushing for the sixth and last playoff spot. And while the team will be happy to extend its unbeaten run to five games, they’ll also look back at several missed opportunities that could have resulted in the Pride claiming all three points. 

“It’s the hardest part of the game, right? Putting the ball in the goal,” Hines said about the missed chances. “And I don’t know if it’s repetition in training. The players have showed that they can put the ball in the goal in training. We created them sort of opportunities in training as well.”

This is the third game this season that the Pride have come back to score an equalizer in second-half injury time. They previously did it on May 14 against the Current and on May 27 against the Washington Spirit — both at Exploria Stadium.

“I think it’s our leaders,” Abello said about the team’s ability to come back. “You know, I think it’s players that really step up and our leaders, not just our older players, but our younger players coming on. Thais came on today and brought so much energy and a voice and arrangement and I think that’s what really drives us late in the game. I wish it wasn’t always coming down to an equalizer at the end of the day. But I think it says so much about our team and our identity and the work we put in at training.”

The draw keeps the Pride in playoff contention, six points behind OL Reign for the final playoff spot. However, the Pride have a game in hand.


They’ll look to extend their unbeaten run to six games next Saturday night when they travel out west to face expansion side San Diego Wave FC for the first time.

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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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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