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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Final Score 3-0 as Pride Shut Out for Third Straight Game



The Orlando Pride (5-9-6, 21 points) fell 3-0 to the North Carolina Courage (8-8-4, 28 points) in their penultimate home game of the season, continuing their free fall with a fourth consecutive loss and the third straight without scoring. The visitors were led by their Brazilian star, Debinha, who scored a brace and assisted Tess Boade’s late first-half goal.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made seven changes from the team that lost 2-0 to Racing Louisville over the weekend. Erin McLeod returned to the lineup for the first time in three games after sitting out due to concussion protocol. Mikayla Cluff had been starting in place of the injured Viviana Villacorta but was out for this game with an ankle injury. Ally Watt received her first start as a member of the Pride and Carrie Lawrence returned to the starting lineup in place of Toni Pressley.

The back line in front of McLeod consisted of Kylie Strom, Lawrence, Megan Montefusco, and Celia. Haley Hanson played as the six with Leah Pruitt, Gunny Jonsdottir, and Jordyn Listro in front of her. The team went with two up top in this game in Kerry Abello and Watt.

While there were noticeable changes in the lineup, the biggest move was Hanson playing in the midfield. She’s played that position before, but has spent her NWSL career as an outside back.

“We knew that she (Hanson) was capable of playing that position and she was more than willing to do it,” Hines said about playing Hanson further up field. “We were short on midfield options. Viviana’s been out and then Mikayla picked up an injury, so we had to get someone to fill that hole.”

While the Pride were already eliminated from playoff contention coming into this game, the Courage are still fighting for a playoff spot. The two teams played to their situations as the Pride looked defeated for most of the game and the Courage played with hunger.

The Pride got the first chance of the game inside the first minute off a North Carolina mistake. Merritt Mathias tried to make a simple pass to Kaleigh Kurtz but it was off target, allowing Pruitt to take control. Instead of going for goal, the forward played it across for Watt, who sent a low cross through the box. However, nobody could get on the end of it.

“It’s a moment where Haley Hanson gets the ball, she gets a cross, it deflects, and Ally’s there,” Hines said about the early chance. “It was a tap-in moment.”

Just a minute later, the Courage opened the scoring. Kurtz played a long ball forward looking for Debinha. Montefusco had a bead on the ball and it looked like she would clear. But the header went to where Debinha was running through instead of outside. McLeod was caught on the right side of the six-yard box, expecting the header to come her way. Instead, it continued on for Debinha who tapped it in, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

“Obviously, unlucky to start,” Hanson said about conceding so early. “And that’s kind of been the theme of, I would say the last couple games. Just unlucky.”

The Courage had another chance in the fifth minute when Debinha attempted to send Boade through. It looked like the midfielder would get a shot on goal, but Lawrence did well to get in the way and block it out of play.

In the 12th minute, Debinha played a nice ball down the right for Rikke Madsen. It appeared that the forward’s ball into the box was behind everyone, but Boade came back for it and got a shot off from near the penalty spot. It didn’t look as though Lawrence was aware of the situation, but she was in the right place at the right time as the ball bounced off her, allowing the Pride to clear.

As the half continued, the rains came in, soaking the field. It rained hard for a good period of the first half before lightening up as the game approached halftime. Once the rain arrived, the chances became fewer for both teams.

In the 28th minute, Watt had a chance to the left of goal but her shot hit the side netting and the assistant raised the flag for offside anyway. Eight minutes later, a turnover by Meredith Speck created a chance for the hosts. Jonsdottir played the ball forward for Pruitt, providing a chance in the box, but the shot was wide of the near post.

There was only one minute of first-half stoppage time but that was enough for the Courage to double their lead. Abello carried the ball across the field and looked to pass to Jonsdottir, but the ball was behind her and was taken away by Boade. The midfielder immediately played it forward to Debinha, who flicked it on for Boade, who continued her run into the box. The midfielder slipped the ball past McLeod, giving the Courage a 2-0 lead with almost the last touch of the first half.

“It’s a punch in the face, really,” Hines said about conceding so late in the first half. “Because I felt like we were growing into that, let’s say, second half of the first half of the game. And we had good momentum. We started to have more courage and bravery on the ball and it just came at such a bad time for us. You go into halftime 1-0 down you go, ‘We can go. We can get after them,’ and that was our message as well. It’s only 2-0. Stranger things have happened. We’ve been here where we were 2-0 down in the 90th minute and managed to get a tie. So yeah, it was disappointing to concede so late on, but like I said, it’s a game, it happens, and you get to recognize who we are in that moment as well.”

After 45 minutes, the Courage had more possession (61%-39%), shots (5-4), shots on target (3-0), and corners (1-0). Both teams had five crosses in the first half of play.

The start of the second half was similar to the start of the first half with a flurry of chances taking place. In the 50th minute, Darian Jenkins, who came on at halftime for Abello, found Watt in the box. The forward turned and shot but it was right at Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy.

Three minutes later, Montefusco knocked a Courage cross out of play for a corner kick. The ensuing corner was cleared to the far side by Celia, but fell to Debinha. The first-half goal scorer had Speck and Boade at the far post and sent the ball in that direction. Whether it was a cross or a shot, the ball sailed over the defensive players and landed inside the far post for her second goal of the game, giving North Carolina a commanding 3-0 lead.

Hines made an attacking pair of changes in the 60th minute, looking for a spark to get the team back into the game. Erika Tymrak came on for Watt and Meggie Dougherty Howard entered the game for Celia.

Just after the substitutions, North Carolina nearly made it four. Jaelene Daniels sent a long ball down the left for Boade but Montefusco beat her to it. However, Montefusco sent a weak pass for either McLeod or Lawrence, allowing Boade to win it back. She shot for the far post from close distance, but McLeod stuck her foot out and knocked it away.

On the other end, Jenkins found enough space to take shots for herself. After the Pride only took two shots in the first 45 minutes, Jenkins took three in her first 20 minutes on the field. However, only one of those three shots was on target and it was right at Murphy.

In the 71st minute, the Pride brought on 18-year-old striker Haley Bugeja. The teenager was signed by the club on July 1 but this was her first appearance for the team. Her debut made her the fourth-youngest player to enter a game in NWSL history.

“I’m just happy to get my first game out of the way obviously,” Bugeja said about her debut. “It’s quite a surreal moment for me and I’m sure my family back home are watching, even though it’s like two in the morning for them. I’m just super happy and hopefully now we can kick on and obviously I’m very grateful for the faith that Seb has showed in me.”

The Pride nearly got one back in the 72nd minute when Tymrak found space from the right side of the box and shot on goal. The shot forced Murphy to tip it over the bar, giving the Pride their first corner kick of the night. The ensuing corner resulted in a chance for Dougherty Howard, but her attempt was off target, allowing the Courage to clear.

The Courage nearly got a fourth goal in the 84th minute when a good buildup set up substitute Brittany Ratcliffe for a chance. Brianna Pinto’s pass to Boade was quickly flicked forward for Ratcliffe. The substitute timed her run perfectly, getting behind the Pride defense for a shot. She aimed for the far post but missed just wide.

The Pride had some chances in the final minutes but were unable to get anything on target. Meanwhile, the Courage played to see out the game, holding onto possession in the dominating win.

In the end, the Courage had more possession (60%-40%), shots on target (5-4), and corners (5-2). The Pride had more shots (16-8), but only four of those shots were on target. The number of off-target shots was a big factor in this game as the Pride had nine shots off target and the Courage only had one off frame.

“Defined by three moments really,” Hines said after the game. “It’s always difficult when you go down a goal so early on, but I felt like we didn’t really get out of control. I didn’t think the game really got away from us. I mean, it was defined by a couple of moments that North Carolina took. And we had chances. We had chances to attack and get something on frame and could be a completely different result if we take them moments.”

After their seven-game unbeaten run, the Pride have now lost four consecutive games and three of those games were at Exploria Stadium. They’ve been outscored in those four games 8-1, failing to get on the scoreboard in the last three.

The Pride will look to end their losing streak on Sunday night when they welcome San Diego Wave FC to Exploria Stadium for their final home game of the 2022 NWSL season.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner

The Pride have added a fourth goalkeeper and the second one from abroad ahead of the 2024 NWSL season.



Image courtesy of the Orlando Pride and FC Honka

The Orlando Pride announced today the signing of goalkeeper Sofia Manner, who was acquired for an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. Manner has signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. The signing is a bit curious as it comes less than two months after the Pride extended English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse through the 2025 season, giving Orlando two international goalkeepers and four total netminders under contract.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to join Orlando Pride, a team I have admired since my youth,” Manner said in a club press release. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to contribute to such a renowned organization in women’s soccer. The prospect of starting this journey fills me with great enthusiasm, and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to the team. I’m ready to put in hard work and help write a new chapter for the Orlando Pride.” 

Manner, who turned 26 on Nov. 9, conceded the fewest goals in the Kansallinen Liiga this season and is a nominee for the league’s Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. She appeared in 23 matches and earned 10 clean sheets across all competitions, was twice named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Month this season, and was Player of the Month in April.

“Sofia is a tremendous addition to our goalkeeping corps and one we expect to challenge for the starting position,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. “She brings an underdog mentality and gritty work ethic and fits every aspect of the profile we have built for our goalkeepers. Her size, aerial ability, shot-stopping prowess, and distribution are world class. She brings international experience and has led the Kansallinen Liiga in nearly every goalkeeping metric. Her nominations for Goalkeeper of the Year and Best Player are indicative of her winning mentality and drive to be the best. We are excited to bring her to Orlando and to give her an opportunity to prove herself in our environment and in the NWSL.” 

The shot stopper has experience playing in the United States, having played collegiately with Stony Brook University. She compiled a 1.14 career goals-against average across three seasons, which is fourth-best in Seawolves’ history. Her 20 shutouts ranks third in program history, and she compiled a .796 save percentage, which is ninth best all time.

While at Stony Brook, Manner was named America East Freshman of the Year in 2017, was a first-team all-conference selection in 2019, and was the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She started in every match in her final two seasons at Stony Brook, backstopping the Seawolves to an America East conference championship in 2019 and a regular-season title in 2018.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride currently have four goalkeepers under contract: 2023 starter Anna Moorhouse (through 2025), backup Carly Nelson (through 2024), third keeper Kaylie Collins (through 2024), and now Manner (through 2025). Collins is on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League Women in Australia. Four goalkeepers will provide spirited competition in preseason camp, to be sure, but it’s likely that one of these players will be on the move at some point.

If Manner wins the starting goalkeeper spot from Moorhouse, it may be for reasons other than stopping shots. Moorhouse did a good enough job of that, but often struggled with balls in from the wings, which was illustrated in the Pride’s penultimate game of the year — a must-win match at Racing Louisville — when a routine-looking corner kick cross appeared to be easily catchable, but Moorhouse went for a punch instead and knocked the winning goal for Louisville into her own net. That dropped point in the standings put Orlando in jeopardy on Decision Day and indeed the Pride beat Houston but missed the postseason on goal differential. It was a crucial point dropped.

That wasn’t Moorhouse’s only major error on the season, as she set an NWSL record with the earliest sending off in league history with her third-minute red card at OL Reign on Sept. 3 — a match the Pride lost 1-0 while playing one player short for 87 minutes plus stoppage. She has also frequently spilled crosses and shots from distance.

Orlando needed to upgrade the position. Whether Manner is an upgrade remains to be seen, but as Carter said, she is expected to compete for the starting spot. If nothing else, the competition should be good for the Pride. If Manner does take the starting position, it seems logical that the club will look to move either Moorhouse or Nelson.

The goalkeeper position will provide one of the Pride’s most intriging camp battles.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Kylie Strom

The veteran defender was a consistent starter for the Pride in 2023.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride signed Kylie Strom from Atletico Madrid on July 5, 2021 to a two-year contract with an option for 2023. Previously, Strom spent time with the Boston Breakers, FFC Frankfurt II in Germany, and Sparta in the Czech Women’s League. The Pride exercised her option prior to the 2023 season. Strom played a much bigger role for the Pride in 2023. 

Let’s take a look at the defender’s 2023 season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Strom appeared in 22 regular-season matches, starting all 22, for a total of 1,967 minutes. She scored one goal on six shots, putting one on target. She provided one assist and made 17 key passes. Strom completed 590 of her 880 total passes (67%). She was accurate on 58.7% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and went 73.8% in her own half. She was 29 of 106 on her long passes (27.4%). She also completed seven of her 36 crosses. Defensively, she logged 34 interceptions and 10 blocks, won 43 of her 81 tackles (53.1%), won 181 of her 291 duels (62.2%), and won 39 of her 64 aerial duels (60.9%). She also committed 18 fouls, suffered 42 fouls, and was not booked.

The 31-year-old made four appearances in NWSL Challenge Cup play, starting four games and playing 314 total minutes. Strom did not score any goals but took two shots with one on target. She attempted three crosses (one successful), and registered no assists. Strom completed 93 of her 134 total passes (69.4%). She was accurate on 61.8% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 75.8% in her own half.  Strom was 11 of 19 on her long passes (57.9%), and made two key passes. Defensively, she made three blocks and eight interceptions, and won eight of her 10 tackles (80%), 29 of her 46 duels (63%), and eight of her 10 aerial duels (80%). She also committed five fouls, suffered five fouls, and was not booked.

Best Game

Strom’s best match was the 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit on May 20. She scored her only goal of the season on a header at the back post in the 77th minute to give the Pride the win. It was the type of goal that you want from defenders and it came at just the right time.

Strom played the full 90 minutes and she was active in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the match. She nearly put Messiah Bright in on goal but it was knocked out for a corner. Her goal came on three shots with one on target. She also completed 15 of her 30 passes (50%) on 52 touches, committed no fouls, suffered three fouls, and was not booked.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Strom a composite rating of 6 for the 2023 season. Strom received a grade of 4.5 in 2022 due to being a part of a defense that gave up 45 goals with a -23 goal differential. That is a big year-over-year improvement for the defender and part of that is the defense as a whole was better. Strom also did well individually though she had a bad habit of cheaply giving the ball away in her own half. She previously received an incomplete during what was a rough stretch run in 2021 after joining the club midseason.

2024 Outlook

Strom is out of contract and will be 32 years old prior to the 2024 season starting. She’s also a free agent. Despite that, it’s very possible she is back with the Pride next season unless additional defensive signings are made. It would mean a new contract, but given she started every regular season match in 2023 and finished second only to Emily Madril in minutes played, Seb Hines evidently has faith in her ability to contribute.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Haley McCutcheon

The veteran fullback logged a lot of minutes for the Pride in 2023.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Haley McCutcheon was still known as Haley Hanson when she joined the Orlando Pride on Aug. 18, 2022 in a midseason trade with the Houston Dash. The Pride gave up $75,000 in Allocation Money and a second-round draft selection. She joined Orlando for the stretch run, making her debut with the Pride on Aug. 20 in a 2-1 win over Gotham FC. Following the 2022 season, the Nebraska product signed a new contract through 2024 on Oct. 26 of last year.

Let’s look back at McCutcheon’s second year with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

The 27-year-old appeared in every one of the Pride’s 22 regular-season games, starting each of them, and was only subbed out twice all year. She logged 1,955 minutes this season, which was third most on the Pride behind only almost-an-iron-woman Emily Madril (1,977) and Kylie Strom (1,967). In other words, McCutcheon played 98.7% of all possible minutes for Orlando during the NWSL regular season. She scored one goal but did not assist on one, despite providing 15 key passes on the year. The defender attempted 17 shots, five of which were blocked and four were on target. She completed 504 of her 716 pass attempts (70.4%), but just 20.8% of her long passes, and nine of her 40 crosses were successful. In her own end, McCutcheon completed 77.6% of her passes but only 59.8% in the attacking half. Defensively, McCutcheon contributed 10 blocks and 18 interceptions while winning tackles at a 56.9% rate, duels at a 58.3% rate, and aerial duels at a 62.7% clip. Surprisingly, she did not tally a single clearance all season. McCutcheon conceded 18 fouls while winning only eight, and she was not booked.

In NWSL Challenge Cup play, McCutcheon appeared in four of the team’s six matches, starting two, and logging 233 minutes. She did not score or assist on a goal, attempting two shots and getting one on frame. Her passing rate in the competition was just 67.6%, and she was successful on 40% of her long passes while logging three key passes and going 1-for-4 on cross attempts. She completed 70.4% of her pass attempts in the defensive half and 62.7% in the attacking half. On defense, McCutcheon contributed two blocks and two interceptions while winning her tackles at a 75% rate, 77.3% of her duels, and 75% of her aerial duels. She conceded two fouls while winning one and was not booked.

Best Game

McCutcheon’s best match came back on April 29 in the Pride’s 3-1 win over the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium. She tied season highs in shots (2) and shots on target (1), passed at a 90.5% rate, and made three tackles. Those are all good things, but it gets better. In this match, McCutcheon scored her first goal with the Pride and her only goal of the season, and it proved to be the game-winning strike. And what a strike it was! With the ball on the other side of the field, McCutcheon made a smart run on the back side. Midfielder Viviana Villacorta spotted the run and delivered an excellent, long, diagonal ball into the area for her. But McCutcheon still had a lot to do. She put her head on it and powered it over the goalkeeper and inside the far post to give the Pride their first lead of the season.

The Pride added another goal and went on to grab their first win of the 2023 season. That sparked a 3-0-1 run in league play and got Orlando going in a season that came down to Decision Day.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave McCutcheon a composite rating of 6 out of 10 for her 2023 season, which is a slight improvement over her score of 5 last season. She was a good facilitator down the right side of the pitch and could fill in at times in the midfield with her versatility. Where she continued to struggle at times was with her 1-v-1 defending down the Pride’s right side and with her crossing accuracy at times.

2024 Outlook

As mentioned above, McCutcheon is on a deal through the 2024 season and since the Pride are safe from the NWSL Expansion Draft, the only way she wouldn’t be back is via trade or transfer. I expect her back in purple next year as she’s a versatile player who can fill in at multiple spots and she is obviously valued by the club, playing a lot of minutes and even wearing the captain’s armband five times during the 2023 NWSL campaign and twice in the Challenge Cup.

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