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Orlando Pride vs. San Diego Wave FC: Final Score 2-2 as Pride Blow Two-Goal Lead in Home Finale

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The Orlando Pride (5-9-7, 22 points) took a 2-0 lead over San Diego Wave FC (10-6-5, 35 points) but two late goals saw the teams draw 2-2. Meggie Dougherty Howard and Gunny Jonsdottir scored first two goals for the hosts while Makenzy Doniak and Taylor Kornieck scored for the visitors.

Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made four changes from the team that lost 3-0 to the North Carolina Courage Wednesday night. Toni Pressley, Courtney Petersen, Dougherty Howard, and Thais Reiss entered the lineup for Ally Watt, Kylie Strom, Jordyn Listro, and Kerry Abello.

The back four in front of Erin McLeod consisted of Celia, Pressley, Carrie Lawrence, and Petersen. For the first time, the Pride lineup had two sixes in Montefusco and Haley Hanson. Dougherty Howard, Jonsdottir, and Reiss were in the attacking midfield with Leah Pruitt up top.

With a unique lineup and a unique formation for this team, it was expected that San Diego would jump all over the Pride. However, Orlando played well for most of the game, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime. They got a second in the second half and looked to be on their way to all three points. But a common problem occurred as they conceded two late goals to claim only one point.

The Pride jumped out to a fast start in this game, creating a pair of corners inside the first three minutes. After the first corner was cleared, the Pride had the game’s first chance when quick passing between Dougherty Howard and Hanson allowed the latter to play Reiss in behind the Wave defense. Reiss got inside the six but Wave goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan closed her down and blocked the shot out of play with her leg. The ensuing corner was quickly cleared by San Diego.

The visitors’ first chance came in the eighth minute when former Pride midfielder Emily van Egmond won control of the ball on the Pride half of the field. The Australian international played it forward for Sofia Jakobsson, who found enough space for a shot at the top of the box. Jakobsson was looking to sneak the ball inside the far post but it rolled just wide.

The Pride had another good opportunity in the 17th minute off a Wave mistake. Naomi Girma attempted to play the ball outside for Christen Westphal but it was a weak pass and easily intercepted by Dougherty Howard. The Pride midfielder got into the box and took a shot on goal but it was right at Sheridan.

In the 25th minute, Kornieck almost made it through the Pride’s back line to get a chance on goal. After receiving the ball from Girma, Jodie Taylor’s first touch sent Kornieck through. She had a step on Montefusco but the defensive midfielder caught up to the former Pride attacker, tipping the ball and allowing Lawrence to clear it out of play.

The Wave had another good chance in the 31st minute when Petersen got caught too far inside. Jakobsson was left with plenty of space on the right and Jaedyn Shaw found her. Jakobsson carried the ball into the box and tried to chip McLeod, but it was over the crossbar.

The visitors paid for those misses in the 33rd minute. After receiving the ball from Hanson near the corner of the box, Pruitt sent a low cross to the top of the six. Sheridan came out in an attempt to clear the ball, but Dougherty Howard beat her to it. The Pride midfielder tapped it past the Wave goalkeeper to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.

“Obviously a goal helps to have a little bit of a cushion,” Dougherty Howard said about her goal. “But I think it was the work that led up to that goal that produced the opportunity for us to just build off that.”

In addition to being Dougherty Howard’s third goal of the season, the goal broke Orlando’s 356-minute scoring drought dating back to Aug. 26 against OL Reign. Coincidentally, Dougherty Howard scored that goal as well, which came in the 37th minute of a 2-1 loss. The midfielder also scored the only goal in the Pride’s 1-0 win over the Wave in San Diego on Aug. 13, with that goal coming via penalty.

The Wave nearly got that goal back in the 36th minute when Taylor found Kaitlyn Johnson at the top of the box. The midfielder had enough space to shoot from the top of the box and the ball was headed for the far corner but McLeod made a diving stop.

That was the last good chance of the first half as the Pride took a 1-0 lead into the break. After 45 minutes of play, San Diego had more possession (55.5%-44.5%) and shots (6-4). However, the Pride had more shots on target (3-1), crosses (8-4), and, most importantly, scored the half’s lone goal.

“To be honest, I think we kind of let our foot off the gas last bit of the first half. So that was something we touched on in the second half,” Dougherty Howard about the team’s halftime thoughts. “In the past, we have been complacent once we score and that was something we talked about going into the start the second half, that we wanted to get back to the way we started the game, kind of clean slate, not dwell on the fact that we were up 1-0 because that’s dangerous to just get comfortable in that league.”

The Wave got off to the better attacking start in the second half. The visitors won the first corner of the second period of play when Carrie Lawrence cleared a ball out of play. The ensuing corner ended up with Westphal at the top of the box but her weak shot was easily cleared. They had another chance in the 54th minute when Westphal sent a cross into the six-yard box for a charging Kornieck. The attacker went up for the ball, but McLeod beat her to it and the Pride were able to clear.

The Wave made three changes before the hour mark, but the Pride soon followed. Instead of making defensive changes to hold onto the 1-0 lead, Hines brought on Ally Watt and Haley Bugeja in the 62nd minute for Pruitt and Reiss. The team’s third change came in the 67th minute when Kylie Strom entered for Celia.

Despite the attacking moves, San Diego continued to pressure. In the 64th minute, a van Egmond cross found the head of Kornieck. The forward redirected the ball towards goal but it was right at McLeod.

A minute later, a turnover by Celia in her own end created another chance for San Diego. Doniak took control of the poor pass and dribbled towards the end line. The midfielder sent a cross to the top of the box that found Kelsey Turnbow, but the shot was blocked by Pressley.

Once again, the missed opportunities by San Diego cost the visitors as the Pride doubled their lead. In the 68th minute, Petersen sent a cross into the San Diego box. Jonsdottir got her head to the ball, sending it low and towards goal. Sheridan got down in an attempt to block it but was too late and the Pride increased their lead to 2-0.

“We were able to, in the second half, get the ball down, play, get into a really good spot for Courtney Petersen to deliver a really good ball,” Hines said about the second Pride goal. “And a commitment from Gunny to get there and get a good head on it.”

Following the goal, San Diego continued to attack, looking to get back into the game. Jakobsson’s shot in the 71st minute was blocked and Kristen McNabb missed the target in the 75th minute. But the Wave finally got one in the 76th minute.

Turnbow sent a cross from the right into the box where Doniak was charging in. The second-half substitute barely got her head to the ball, but enough to send it just over the fingertips of McLeod and into the far corner, cutting the Pride lead to 2-1.

Until that goal, the Pride had attempted to keep their foot on the pedal. The substitutions were more like-for-like and attacking. However, with only a one-goal lead, a change in shape was necessary.

“Once we were 2-1, we felt like we had to change shape so we went to a five back,” Hines said about the move. “We dropped Megan (Montefusco) in. We had 5-4-1. Anytime a team is down and you play a direct team, they’re gonna even be more direct.”

In the 78th minute, Bugeja switched the ball to Petersen on the left side, allowing the defender to get a shot off. However, it was from distance and a poor angle, allowing Sheridan to easily catch it.

A minute later, a Jakobsson cross reached McNabb on the far side. The defender fired on goal but got under the ball and it sailed over the crossbar.

The Wave found their long-awaited equalizer in the 87th minute. It started with a free kick after Jonsdottir fouled Doniak. McNabb sent the free kick to the top of the six where it was softly cleared out to Kornieck in the middle of the box. The former Pride player didn’t miss this opportunity, slamming it past McLeod to make it 2-2.

“It’s the second phase and it lands to her feet,” Hines said about San Diego’s second goal. “You know, if it’s a foot away from Kornieck, Abello gets it. It’s just one of the things that happens.”

“I think we just, in these games, can’t lose focus, even if we’re 2-0 up,” Jonsdottir said about conceding the two late goals. “We need to just be turned on and then we switched off for a second there and they’re a good team. So they punish us and that’s how it is.”

The Pride tried to find a late winner in the 90th minute when Lawrence received the ball from about 40 yards out off a clearance. The center back took her chance and fired on goal. It looked as though it might’ve been dipping under the crossbar, so Sheridan tipped it over.

The Pride had one more chance in the final minute of injury time when Watt chipped a ball towards the far post. Madison Pogarch got the final touch, providing the Pride with a corner kick. The ensuing corner by Jonsdottir was the final ball into either team’s box but it was cleared away by San Diego.

San Diego finished the game with more possession (58.1%-41.9%), shots (15-6), and crosses (21-20). The Pride did end the game with more shots on target (5-4) but it wasn’t enough as they blew a two-goal lead in their final home game of the season.

“I’m really proud of the players,” Hines said about the game. “It’s been tough the last four games — injuries, three-game week. And you can see today they went above and beyond to try and get results and the effort and the commitment and players coming into the lineup and playing their part and players coming off the bench and playing their part and we took it all the way to the final whistle. So, I’m really proud of the players and everything that they’ve put into this week to get a result today.”

“We’ve been through a bit of a rough patch. So today’s game was all about character,” Jonsdottir added. “That’s what the team showed today. And I’m so proud of them. It kind of feels like a loss because I thought we were good in this game. That’s a tough one to take. But as I said, I’m so proud of the team.”

The Pride will end the season with a home record of 1-5-5. The fans also showed up for this game as 6,466 were in attendance. That’s the second-highest home attendance of the year and the highest this season at Exploria Stadium. The team drew 7,573 when it faced Racing Louisville on July 3 at Daytona International Speedway.

“Great crowd tonight,” Dougherty Howard said about the support. “It makes a difference when we’re on the field, just giving that extra energy, and I felt like hopefully (we) made the fans proud and we put out a performance that represents who we want to be.”

The draw has an impact on both teams. While the Wave clinched a playoff spot, the Pride remain in ninth in the league with one game remaining in the season. The team can’t finish any lower than 10th and can only be caught by the Washington Spirit. It’s a situation that most people didn’t expect from the team during a rebuilding year.


The Pride will now travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on OL Reign next Saturday night in the season finale.

Orlando Pride

The Pride’s Favorite Hunting Ground Is the Middle of the Box

A look into the Pride’s goals in 2024 and why it is really not a riddle why so many of their goals have come from the middle.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

In my article last week I took a look at Orlando City’s offense, or lack thereof, and so this week I am going to focus on a far more pleasant topic — the undefeated Pride and where their goals have been coming from thus far this season. Let’s take a look at this heatmap (the darker the red, the more goals in comparison to other locations) that I made below, sourced from data I took from fbref.com for the distance away from the goal and from espn.com for the general location on the field for each goal:

Now, a few things you’ll notice about this heatmap:

  • The Pride have scored 19 goals themselves thus far this season (opponents have gifted them two own goals), and 16 of the 19 (84%) have been from inside the 18 and pretty much right in front of the net. The one goal from outside the 18 was a rocket from Emily Sams on May 19 at Seattle, and that too was basically from the center of the goal, just 23 yards away, so it shows up in that very pale pink stripe outside the 18-yard box.
  • Most of the goals were scored from in between the six and the 18 (average distance for those 14 goals in the dark red = 11 yards).
  • The Pride have not scored any goals on the left side of the field all season. This is interesting, because they do have several offensive players who are left-foot dominant (you may have heard of Marta, for example), but at least through 13 games, nobody has been able to get loose on the left side of the box and finish into the net.
  • The heatmap looks like it came from Microsoft Excel…because it in fact did come from Microsoft Excel. I know that there are programs and websites out there that can provide better graphics and which may have much more detailed tracking on the exact locations shots were taken. Our team at The Mane Land will happily do all the research and share what we find. All you have to do is buy us some coffees and we will invest that right into giving you the content you desire!

Being that most of the goals scored this season by the Pride have all been in that same central location, there is not a lot of suspense in looking at the leaders in goals by location. As you surely guessed, since she leads the team in goals, Barbra Banda also leads the team in goals scored in the center of the box. What I found more interesting, however, was how those goals came about.

The website fbref.com’s shot tracking, provided by Opta, includes the last two offensive actions prior to the goal for every goal scored in every match. They call these “goal creating actions,” and here are the possible actions: live-ball pass, dead-ball pass (i.e free kick), take-on (beating a player off the dribble), taking a shot, drawing a foul, and stealing/intercepting a ball while on defense. Shown below are all 16 of those goals scored in the middle of the box, listed in order from the start of the season, and what you will see is that every goal pattern is unique, highlighting the diversity of ways the Pride have put the ball into the back of the net:

  1. Pass (Live) by Amanda Allen – Goal by Summer Yates.
  2. Pass (Dead) by Angelina – Goal by Marta.
  3. Shot by Kerry Abello – Goal by Summer Yates.
  4. Pass (Live) by Barbra Banda – Goal by Angelina.
  5. Pass (Live) by Julie Doyle – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  6. Foul Committed on Barbra Banda – Goal by Summer Yates (penalty).
  7. Pass (Live) by Barbra Banda – Goal by Ally Watt.
  8. Pass (Live) by Ally Watt – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  9. Take-On by Barbra Banda – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  10. Pass (Live) by Emily Sams – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  11. Foul Committed on Barbra Banda – Goal by Adriana (penalty).
  12. Pass (Live) by Marta – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  13. Shot by Haley McCutcheon – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  14. Shot by Rafaelle – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  15. Take-On by Barbra Banda – Goal by Barbra Banda.
  16. Pass (Live) by Barbra Banda – Goal by Julie Doyle.

While there are no goal patterns that have emerged yet for the location on the field where the Pride score the most goals, there is a name that jumps off the page when you look at that list — the aforementioned leading goal scorer, Barbra Banda. The Zambian is clearly far more than just a clinical finisher, though. She also drew two fouls that led to penalties, took on and beat two defenders to give herself openings to score, and also played three passes in open play for goals, including the most recent goal scored by the Pride — a Julie Doyle volley on a beautiful cross from Banda.

For the season, Banda is third in NWSL in total goal creating actions with 10, and first in goal creating actions per 90 minutes (GCA90) with 1.39, a value that is more than double the player currently in eighth (let me repeat, she is averaging more than double the person ranked in eighth!) place in the NWSL. Her GCA90 of 1.39 is also 16% higher than that of Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, who finished ranked first in England’s Women’s Super League last season with a GCA90 of 1.2. This article was not originally intended to be a Banda lovefest, but it is quite difficult to write about the Orlando Pride’s offensive success without a brief trip down the middle of the rabbit hole to look at just how good she has been this season.

Channeling my inner yoga instructor and returning us to center, the last piece to look at around the Pride’s goal scoring is to look at their shot locations and how they are doing from all sections on the field. The side-by-side heatmaps below use different colorings. The left heatmap shades from white to red as the total shots taken increases, and the right heatmap is styled more as hot/cold, with low percentages of success being blue and high percentages of success (read: goals) turning red.

I expect that were we to look at the heatmaps of most soccer teams, they would all likely look very similar to the Pride’s heatmaps above. It is highly likely that teams will try to shoot most frequently from the middle of the areas closest to the goal, and it is highly likely as well that they will achieve higher percentages of success from shots in the middle of the field and close to the goal. Just like teams in the NBA have identified that corner 3-point shots and shots in the paint are the primary places that they want to look for their shots, most soccer teams are game-planning their offenses around creating shots right smack in the middle of the 18.

Opposing teams know this, of course, and that is where the battle of wills and wits comes into play that we love watching so much. So far this season, the Pride have clearly been winning these battles, as evidenced by the fact that even though defenses are trying to stop them, they have still managed to take 76 of their 195 shots (39%) from the most dangerous spots on the field and have scored 16 goals on those shots, a conversion rate of 21%.

If they keep up their current goal-scoring pace the 2024 Pride are on pace to surpass their total goals scored from 2023 (27 goals) within the next 4 games, and they have an outside chance to score the most goals of any Pride team ever (current leader = 2017 Pride with 45 goals) if they can slightly increase their goals/game rate during the second half of the season. I think they have a legit chance to do this, and if they do I expect it will be because they continue to excel at pouncing on the opportunities they create in the center of the box.

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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Final score 0-0 as the Pride Remain Unbeaten

The Orlando Pride remain undefeated after taking a road point against the North Carolina Courage.

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Photo Courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

It wasn’t the result that the Orlando Pride wanted, but the team remains unbeaten in 2024 after a 0-0 draw against the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park. Orlando (8-0-5, 29 points) had plenty of chances but was unable to score a goal for the first time this season. The Pride were the first team this year to take any points away on the road against North Carolina (5-7-1, 16 points), which is now 5-0-1 at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2024.

The Pride had an opportunity to go top of the table as the Kansas City Current drew the Chicago Red Stars Friday, but the 0-0 draw wasn’t enough to do so. This was first time the Pride were shut out since September 9, 2023 on the road against OL Reign. Halfway through this season, the Pride are only two points shy of their point total from 2023.

“The positives are, you know, a point on the road, (which) it’s probably something we would have taken before the game,” Hines said. “No other team has done that against North Carolina. Clean sheet as well. It’s really important that we get that going as well. But, I think after the game it’s a bittersweet taste in our mouths because we thought that we played really well.”

Brianna Martinez echoed Hines’ comments.

“We’re proud to be the first team to kind of give them a tough game at home but also disappointed, because I think we know we could have beat them and walked away with three (points),” the defender said. “Our effort was there, just technically it could have been a little bit better if we kept the ball.”

Hines did not have a full-strength squad for the match, with starters Rafaelle and Morgan Gautrat out with injuries. Anna Moorhouse started in goal behind a back line of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Brianna Martinez. The midfield in the 4-4-2 consisted of Adriana, Julie Doyle, Summer Yates, and Haley McCutcheon, with Barbra Banda and Marta up top.

After the start of the game was delayed due to field conditions, the Pride didn’t wait very long to get into the attack with a takeaway in the first minute, moving the ball up to Banda into the box, but she lost possession. The Pride got their first chance in the fourth minute as the ball was worked up the left side to Banda, who crossed it in to Marta , but the shot went right into the arms of Courage keeper Casey Murphy.

The Pride’s second shot on goal came in the seventh minute on a break that saw Banda once again cross the ball — this time to Doyle — who also sent it right at Murphy.

In the 14th minute, Yates tried to make her way into the box where she was stood up. The ball popped out to Banda, who took a shot from outside the box, but it went wide right of goal.

Doyle earned a free kick in the 15th minute, but the attempt went to Murphy again. In the 17th minute, the Pride had another free kick resulting in a corner kick. Unfortunately, Yates sent the ball over the goal and out for a goal kick.

The Courage were able to get some possession, including a ball into the box, but the Pride defense was able to clear. In the 26th minute, Martinez made a good interception but slipped, allowing the Courage to get a half chance off that was easily saved by Moorhouse.

In the 29th minute, Marta took a long-distance shot that sailed over the goal. The Pride followed that up a minute later with another shot that bounced back to Adriana, who headed it right to Murphy. In the 32nd minute, Adriana made her way into the box and crossed for Marta on the back post, but her header went wide left.

The Courage got their first good chance in the 33rd minute when Ashley Sanchez beat Martinez to the ball in the box, but Moorhouse did well to come out, get big, and make the save. The resulting corner kick was headed out by the Courage for a goal kick.

The Courage got behind the Pride defense in the 38th minute. Sanchez took a shot at the top of the box, but it sailed high. One minute later, Narumi Miura took a long-distance shot that went left of goal.

In the 42nd minute, Marta took another shot on goal from outside the box, but again it went right to Murphy. After that, both teams saw out the half with no stoppage time given.

North Carolina held the halftime edge in possession (54%-46%), shots (7-6), and passing accuracy (83%-80%). Despite one fewer shot, the Pride had more shots on target (3-2), with the corners being equal (1-1).

The Courage came out on the front foot to start the second half, but it was the Pride that got the first shot. Once again, Banda muscled her way into the box, but she was unable to get the shot off. The ball bounced out to Marta at the top of the box, but her shot went wide right.

In the 48th minute, Banda again made her way forward, this time earning a free kick when she was fouled from behind. The kick went into the wall and then out for a corner kick. Unfortunately, there was a foul in the box on the set piece and the opportunity went to waste.

The Courage had a few opportunities in the 55th minute, but nothing on goal. In the 58th minute, Moorhouse came out to make a sliding save where a Courage player rammed her. There was no foul called on the play, and the Courage continued the attack. Fortunately, Sams and the rest of the defense kept the Courage out of goal. After some attention from the trainers, Moorhouse continued.

In the 67th minute, Abello earned a corner that was taken by Marta, but nothing came of it. Two minutes later, Doyle made her way into the box and crossed to Adriana, but her shot didn’t have much on it and was handled easily by Murphy.

In the 72nd minute Adriana took a shot that deflected off the defense and out for a corner. The resulting corner kick was cleared. Two minutes later, Hines makes his first substitutions, including Angelina returning from injury.

“I just want to thank the staff and my teammates. They were there for me the whole way,” Angelina said. “It was like five weeks to get back on the field. I just feel great (and) they gave me great support through my injury.”

In the 77th minute, McCutcheon committed a foul resulting in a free kick for Carolina. Moorhouse punched the ball out. The Courage continued to create trouble in the Pride’s area, but were unable to convert.

Banda took another shot in the 80th minute, but it went wide right. Five minutes later she sent a cross to Adriana, but the Brazilian’s shot was blocked. The resulting corner amounted to nothing, despite a few shot attempts. Banda made another run in the 88th minute, but her shot attempt went high. She was subbed out in the 89th minute for Amanda Allen.

In the second minute of stoppage time, Marta took another shot that was deflected out for a corner. The video assistant referee took a look at the play for a potential handball, but it was cleared. Murphy collected the corner kick, as the Pride wasted another chance.

Six minutes of stoppage time turned into nine minutes. The Pride had a flurry of chances but didn’t score. In the last minute of play the Courage earned a corner, but Moorhouse made one more save as time expired, and the teams split the points.

The Pride made up ground on the stat sheet, finishing with the advantage in possession (51%-49%), shots (19-14), corners (6-2), and passing accuracy (80%-77%). Shots on target were even (5-5).

The lack of clinical finishing is not normal for this Pride team. Even Banda wasn’t dialed in against the Courage. Given how stingy the Courage are at home, and how back and forth the match was, a point on the road is acceptable if not ideal.


The Pride are back home on Friday to host the Utah Royals at Inter&Co Stadium.

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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride wrap up their two-game road trip with a visit to the North Carolina Courage.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (8-0-4, 28 points) conclude their two-game road trip tonight against the North Carolina Courage (5-7-0, 15 points) in Cary, NC. This is the second and final time the two teams will face off during the 2024 NWSL regular season, although they will meet in the group stage of the Summer Cup.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.

History

The Pride and Courage have played 24 times since the Western New York Flash moved to North Carolina and became the Courage in 2017. The Pride are 6-13-5 in those games (6-10-1 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-3-2 in the NWSL Challenge Cup).

The most recent meeting between the two teams was on May 1 in Orlando. Barbra Banda and Ally Watt started up top together for the first time, a move that paid off in the game. In the 29th minute, Banda set up Watt for the opener. Watt repaid the favor in the 40th minute as the Pride went up 2-0. Julie Doyle added a goal just before halftime, giving the Pride a commanding lead. Emily Sams’ own goal was the only scoring for the Courage and Banda’s second of the night gave the Pride a 4-1 win.

The first game between the Pride and Courage in 2023 was on April 19 in Orlando. The Pride took the lead after halftime when Summer Yates set up Watt for the opening goal, but Denise O’Sullivan equalized in the ninth minute of second-half injury time, resulting in a 1-1 draw. On June 17 in North Carolina it was all Courage. Kerolin and Meredith Speck gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before a Haley McCutcheon own goal made it 3-0 to North Carolina.

The Pride didn’t show up for the July 29 Challenge Cup contest in North Carolina, getting demolished by the Courage. Brittany Ratcliffe and Malia Berkely gave the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead before Frankie Tagliaferri made it three, and a late brace by Haley Hopkins completed the 5-0 result. The Pride finally got a win on Sept. 17, 2023 at home. Watt got the Pride off to a great start, scoring inside the first minute. After assisting on the first goal, Adriana doubled the lead before halftime. Manaka Matsukubo got one back for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough and the Pride won 2-1.

The first meeting in 2022 came on May 18 in North Carolina. The Pride got off to a great start in that game, with Sydney Leroux scoring early. Mikayla Cluff doubled the lead with her first professional goal. A late goal by Brianna Pinto got the Courage back within one, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride took the 2-1 win. On Sept. 21, 2022 at Exploria Stadium, it was the Courage that got off to the better start when Debinha scored in the second minute. The Brazilian then assisted Tess Boade in first-half injury time to double the lead, and later added another, dooming the Pride to a 3-0 defeat.

The Pride and Courage were placed in the same division for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, so the teams played twice before the regular season started. The first game was on March 26 in North Carolina. Merritt Mathias converted a penalty after Gunny Jonsdottir was called for a handball in the box, lifting the hosts to a 1-0 win. The return match in the tournament took place on April 16 in Orlando. The Courage got off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes. Darian Jenkins netted a brace to make it 3-2, but a late Debinha goal put the game away and North Carolina won 4-2.

The teams played three times during the 2021 NWSL season. On May 22 in North Carolina, goals by Leroux and Alex Morgan gave the Pride a 2-0 lead late into the game. Jessica McDonald scored late to pull one back but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win. On July 4 in Orlando, Debinha and Havana Solaun goals helped the Courage take home a 2-0 win. The final game came on July 31 in North Carolina. Leroux opened the scoring but Brittany Ratcliffe equalized moments later and the teams drew 1-1.

The two teams were also matched up in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup but they only played once in that tournament. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in that game in a scoreless draw.

Similar to the Challenge Cup, the teams were in the same group of the 2020 Fall Series, meeting twice. The first was on Sept. 19 in North Carolina and ended in a scoreless draw. The second was on Oct. 17 at Exploria Stadium. Led by a Debinha brace, the Courage went up 3-0. But the Pride came back with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran for an exciting 3-3 draw.

The Pride and Courage played three times during the 2019 season. The first game was on April 17 in North Carolina. The Courage took a 1-0 lead into halftime but scored four times in the second half to win 5-0. They played a second time on June 1 in Orlando. Again, it was a dominant performance by the Courage as the Pride fell 3-0. The final meeting that year was another thrashing by North Carolina. The Pride got a goal in that one but still fell 6-1.

The teams also met three times in 2018 but the results were much closer. On May 23 in Orlando, goals by Alanna Kennedy and Rachel Hill saw the Pride come back from a 3-1 deficit. But McDonald scored a winner in the 90th minute and the Courage won 4-3. The Pride went down by three goals in the final two games that season, but were unable to come back and fell 3-0 in both contests.

The 2017 season saw the teams meet for the first time. The Courage took the first game 3-1 on April 29 in North Carolina. They played a second time two weeks later in Orlando when the Pride took the 3-1 win. The final meeting in 2017 came in the final game of the season on Sept. 30. The Pride took a 2-0 lead but the Courage came back to even it at 2-2. It looked headed for a draw until Kennedy netted a late winner, leading the Pride to a 3-2 win.

Overview

The Pride are coming off a hard-fought 1-1 draw in San Diego, a result that snapped their eight-game winning streak. Julie Doyle opened the scoring in the first half with arguably the goal of the season, but the visitors equalized through Makenzy Doniak in the 62nd minute. Despite ending their winning streak, the draw extended the Pride’s unbeaten run to 12 games and kept them tied on points with the Kansas City Current atop the NWSL standings.

Banda has been the most impressive player for the Pride this season, scoring eight goals, recording three assists, and drawing two penalties in eight games. She added to her assist tally in San Diego, setting up Doyle’s first-half goal. The team has also been strong defensively and Head Coach Seb Hines has found his preferred back four. After shifting players around because of injuries and suspensions, he’s used Sams, Rafaelle, Kylie Strom, and Kerry Abello in five of the last six games. However, Rafaelle missed the San Diego contest and is out tonight with a leg injury.

The Courage have historically been one of the best teams in the NWSL, but have struggled this season. They’re currently tied with Racing Louisville for seventh in the league and have a -2 goal differential. They’re in the middle of the league in both goals scored and goals conceded, unsurprisingly leaving them in the middle of the table.

North Carolina has been led offensively by the players you’d expect. Tyler Lussi has a team-leading three goals, just ahead of Bianca St-Georges and Haley Hopkins, who have two each. Dani Weatherholt, Ashley Sanchez, Brianna Pinto, Kaleigh Kurtz, and Malia Berkely have all added one as well. The only player with multiple assists this year is Sanchez, the team’s primary playmaker. The U.S. international will likely cause the most problems for the Pride back line, making stopping her essential.

The Courage haven’t been bad in most games defensively this season. Other than the 4-1 loss to the Pride, the only time they’ve conceded more than two goals was in a 3-0 loss to the Houston Dash on May 24. However, they bounced back on June 8, only losing 1-0 to the Portland Thorns. They started the season with a four-person back line, but have recently switched to three in front of starting goalkeeper Casey Murphy, so it will be interesting to see how they line up tonight.

While the Courage have gotten off to a disappointing start, they’ve been excellent at home. The team has yet to drop points at WakeMed Soccer Park, winning all of their first five games, including a 2-0 win over the Thorns on April 13. Their home form will make winning a difficult task for the Pride.

“Results from them has shown that it’s a tough place to go and get points. They’re unbeaten, they’ve won every game there, and we expect nothing less than a tough game,” Hines said about the Courage. “So we’ll go out there, we’ll give everything like we have done in every game. We want to bounce back from almost a disappointing result away at San Diego. We know we can play better than that and so we’ll be going in there and looking for a win.”

Angelina (knee) isn’t listed on the injury report this week for the first time since her injury, but Morgan Gautrat (concussion) and Rafaelle (leg) have been added to players out. They’re joined by Celia (hip), Simone Charley (leg), Luana (illness), Megan Montefusco (heel), and Viviana Villacorta (knee). North Carolina will be without Sydney Collins (ankle), Estelle Johnson (maternity leave), Kerolin Nicoli (knee), Olivia Wingate (leg), and Ryan Williams (suspension), while Matsukubo (lower leg) and Dani Weatherholt (leg) are questionable.


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.

Defenders: Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, Brianna Martinez.

Midfielders: Adriana, Summer Yates, Haley McCutcheon, Julie Doyle.

Forwards: Barbra Banda, Marta.

Bench: McKinley Crone, Cori Dyke, Carrie Lawrence, Ally Lemos, Angelina, Amanda Allen, Mariana Larroquette, Alex Kerr, Ally Watt.

North Carolina Courage (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: Casey Murphy.

Defenders: Felicitas Rauch, Malia Berkely, Kaleigh Kurtz.

Midfielders: Victoria Pickett, Denise O’Sullivan, Narumi Miura, Bianca St-Georges.

Forwards: Tyler Lussi, Haley Hopkins, Ashley Sanchez.

Bench: Marisa Bova, Julia Dorsey, Natalia Staude, Jenna Winebrenner, Riley Jackson, Maya McCutcheon, Landy Mertz, Brianna Pinto, Meredith Speck.

Referees

REF: JC Griggs.
AR1: Nicholas Seymour.
AR2: Tiffini Turpin.
4TH: John Rush.
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal.
AVAR: Tom Felice.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.

TV: Bally Sports Florida.

Streaming: NWSL+.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow @SkoPurpSoccer, the official Twitter account of our Orlando Pride podcast (The Mane Land’s main account will be providing updates on Orlando City’s match), and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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