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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Drop Second Straight



The Orlando Pride (5-7-6, 21 points) dropped their second consecutive game, falling to the Portland Thorns (8-3-7, 31 points) 2-0 at Exploria Stadium. Yazmeen Ryan opened the scoring in the 31st minute and Hina Sugita doubled the visitors’ lead in the 65th minute.

This was the second time that these two teams met during the 2022 NWSL season. The first meeting was a dominant 6-0 win by Portland at Providence Park. While the Pride weren’t beaten as badly in this one, it was just as dominant of a performance by the Thorns.

The first half was almost all Portland as the Pride didn’t even get a shot off until the 36th minute. They were much more competitive in the second half, but the best chances were still created by the visitors.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made three changes to the team that lost 2-1 to OL Reign two weeks ago. Erin McLeod was in concussion protocol, giving backup Anna Moorhouse the opportunity to start for the first time since the NWSL Challenge Cup. Toni Pressley re-entered the lineup for Carrie Lawrence and Mikayla Cluff took the place of Viviana Villacorta, who had season-ending ankle surgery after sustaining an injury against OL Reign.

The back four in front of Moorhouse for this game was Celia, Megan Montefusco, Pressley, and Kylie Strom. Jordyn Listro and Meggie Dougherty Howard were in the defensive midfield behind Cluff, Erika Tymrak, and Kerry Abello, with Julie Doyle up top.

The first chance of the game was in the fourth minute when Natalia Kuikka sent a long ball for Sophia Smith. However, Montefusco played it well and was able to knock it out of play. The ensuing corner by Sam Coffey found the head of Morgan Weaver but the header was wide.

The second chance of the game came in the 11th minute when Kuikka sent a cross in from the left, again looking for Smith. The U.S. international appeared to have a chance at goal but Montefusco did well again to step in front and knock it out of play. The corner by Ryan was turned on goal by Kelli Hubly but was over the crossbar.

In the 18th minute, Portland had its third chance of the game off of a Pride turnover. Attempting to work the ball out of the back, a poor pass by Listro for Cluff resulted in the latter tipping the ball to Sugita. The turnover allowed Sugita space to shoot from the top of the box but it was right to Moorhouse.

The first multiple-shot attack of the game came in the 24th minute. A shot by Smith from the left side of the box was blocked away by Moorhouse but the Thorns maintained possession. Smith received the ball back and made a nice turn to beat her defender and get into the box. But the ball got a bit too far from her and Pressley cleared it out of play for a corner kick. The ensuing corner by Coffey was caught by Moorhouse.

After dominating the possession and chances, the Thorns finally broke through in the 31st minute. It started in the back when Becky Sauerbrunn played Meghan Klingenberg to the left. She found Weaver making a run towards the corner and the forward quickly sent the ball into the box. Ryan was there to get on the end of the cross and put it past Moorhouse for the game’s opening goal.

The Pride finally got their first chance at goal in the 36th minute. A hard challenge by Ryan on Strom gave the Pride a free kick outside the top left corner of the box. Dougherty Howard sent the cross in for Cluff, who turned and shot, but a defender got a foot to it and Portland cleared.

The Pride got their best chance of the first half in the 40th minute when Olivia Moultrie fouled Tymrak just outside of the box. Pressley stepped up to the ball, looking to smash it towards goal, but the free kick was off the wall and out for a corner kick.

The ensuing corner by Tymrak found the head of Cluff near the top of the six-yard box. The young midfielder attempted to send the ball inside the far post but it went just wide for a Thorns goal kick.

A minute later, Dougherty Howard sent Abello down the left side of the field. Hubly stepped up to defend, but Abello played it around her, beating Hubly with her speed. It looked like Abello would have a good shot on goal, but the defender recovered, knocking her off balance. As a result, the shot was wide of the near post.

“It’s hot here. It gets humid,” Hines said about the team getting better chances at the end of the first half. “It’s a difficult environment to play in. And that’s where we’ve ended games — first halves and second halves — better because we adapted to the environment. We’ve pushed the players extremely hard and fitness levels and, you know, we just need to get that reward at the end of the day.”

The first 45 minutes were dominated by the visitors. Portland led the first half in possession (55.8%-44.2%), shots (10-4), shots on target (5-0), corners (3-1), crosses (8-2), and passing accuracy (87.1%-74.5%).

“The last few games we’ve started a little bit flat, you know, been timid,” Cluff said about the first half. “I don’t know if that’s because of who we know we’re playing. It’s a better opponent than the last games before that.”

The second half started similarly to how most of the first half went. In the 47th minute, a Smith shot was blocked out of play by Pressley for a corner. It didn’t result in a shot, but the Pride were unable to clear. Courtney Petersen, who came on for Erika Tymrak at the half, won the ball and tried to play it across the field but sent it directly to a Thorns player.

The Thorns continued to maintain possession and had a great chance to double their lead in the 49th minute. Quick passing allowed Klingenberg to find Ryan near the penalty spot. The first-half goal scorer fired with no defenders near her but hit it well high of the target.

In the first half, the Pride weren’t able to get a shot off until the 36th minute. However, they got off to a better attacking start in the second 45 minutes. In the 52nd minute, Petersen drew two defenders near the end line and found Dougherty Howard at the top corner of the box. The midfielder attempted to curl the ball inside the far post but missed wide.

Two minutes later, an aggressive takedown of Strom by Kuikka gave the Pride a free kick. Dougherty Howard sent the ball into the box where it landed at the foot of Listro. She quickly fired towards goal but her shot was blocked, allowing Portland to clear.

The visitors had another good chance to double their lead in the 57th minute when Kuikka sent a long ball towards the back post. Weaver was charging in but the ball tailed toward the goal line. Moorhouse did well to tip the ball away or it either would have snuck just inside the far post or would’ve been met by Weaver. Instead, it was a corner kick.

Portland doubled its lead in the 65th minute after picking up possession by taking it from Dougherty Howard near midfield. Moultrie carried the ball inside the box but was turned back away from goal. Instead of looking for her own shot, she played it back to Sugita outside of the box. Since no Pride defenders stepped up, Sugita decided to have a go at goal. The shot didn’t initially look very dangerous, but Moorhouse didn’t seem to see it until the last second and it went off the inside of the far post and in to increase the Portland lead to 2-0.

“I thought it was going wide,” Moorhouse said about conceding the goal. “I got my bearings just a little bit off. But, to be fair, she put it in off the post so it was right in the corner. So I’m going to have to come up with something special to even keep that out.”

Portland had a great chance for a third from the team’s leading goal scorer in the 74th minute. The Thorns had a transition opportunity and Weaver found Smith in the box with no defenders around her. Moorhouse decided to stay on her line instead of coming out to cut down her angle, but Smith’s shot was well over the goal.

As time wound down, the Pride created some chances, trying to get back into the game. This included a long-distance shot by Cluff, a free kick into the box by substitute Thais Reiss, and a header towards goal by Montefusco off a corner. But none of these chances were on target and Portland went home with a 2-0 win.

In the end, Portland led the Pride in every meaningful statistical category. The Thorns had more possession (60.6%-39.4%), shots (19-10), shots on target (8-1), corners (7-6), crosses (16-13), and passing accuracy (86.8%-75.1%).

“A tough one. Portland are a top team,” Hines said about the performance. “They’re obviously high on the table. It’s another good test for us and a good test to see where we’re at in terms of our progression. And, you know, I felt like we were a little bit off today, a little bit off of our passing. There was moments where we won the ball. We didn’t really threaten them behind. We’re all showing to feet, which encouraged their press even more. And, you know, we didn’t do our principles to the fullest.”

“I think what Seb said in the huddle after the game, we just need to keep going as a team and being together,” Moorhouse added. “We’ve just played two tough teams and we’ve done in most parts well against them. I think we need to stick to our principles a little bit more against the tough teams and keep playing our game and not give them too much respect to come here especially and play that game. So we need to disrupt the bigger teams a little bit more from their own game.”

Prior to the OL Reign game two weeks ago, two of the last three games were against teams currently out of a playoff spot. Facing better teams, they’ve now lost two in a row. The next two games are against teams out of the playoffs so the Pride have an opportunity to claim points.

The loss keeps the Pride in eighth in the NWSL standings with just four games remaining in the season. They’ll look to break their current losing streak next Friday night when they take on Racing Louisville in Kentucky.

Orlando Pride

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.



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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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.

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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.

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