Orlando Pride

Top 10 Moments of 2022: Pride Reel Off Seven-Game Unbeaten Streak



As we count down to the new year of 2023 — which will be Orlando City’s ninth in MLS and the Orlando Pride’s eighth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2022, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year as selected by The Mane Land staff via vote.

The 2022 NWSL season was one of rebuilding for the Orlando Pride. The team got rid of several veterans as it built for the future. It looked to be a dismal year that was bound to end with the team finishing in last. Instead the Pride went on an unexpected seven-game unbeaten run that claimed the sixth spot on our list of the top 10 moments of 2022.

New Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell was placed on administrative leave, along with Assistant Coach Sam Greene, on June 7 for retaliatory conduct. Michelle Akers and Aline Reis, both of whom were brought in by Cromwell, took personal time off. As a result, former Lion and assistant coach Seb Hines was the only staff member left and was named interim head coach. Hines’s tenure at the helm didn’t start off well with a pair of road losses, falling 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars and getting thrashed by the Portland Thorns 6-0. But then things changed.

The Pride took part in the inaugural Daytona SoccerFest ahead of the Fourth of July, playing the first professional soccer game at a speedway. On July 3, the Pride took on Racing Louisville at Daytona International Speedway.

The visitors took the advantage in the 34th minute when Emina Ekic gave Louisville the lead. Shortly after halftime, Savannah DeMelo doubled the advantage and it looked like it would be another loss for Orlando. But the Pride responded well, with Darian Jenkins assisting Kylie Strom in the 59th minute and getting a goal of her own 10 minutes later. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, ending the team’s three-game losing streak.

The Pride got their second consecutive result less than a week later on July 8 when an Ally Prisock own goal in the 79th minute saw Orlando take a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash at Exploria Stadium.

After a scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit, the Pride looked like they’d get their second win of the unbeaten run when they faced the Kansas City Current at Children’s Mercy Park on July 31. Celia scored her first goal for the Pride in the 25th minute and rookie forward Julie Doyle scored her first professional goal just after halftime. But the hosts came back with goals from Elyse Bennett in the 57th minute and Cece Kizer in the 82nd minute, resulting in a 2-2 draw.

On Aug. 7, the Pride returned home to face league newcomers Angel City FC. It was a familiar face that gave the visitors the lead in the 40th minute when Ali Riley scored. But Julie Doyle struck just after coming on the field in the 64th minute, tying the game at one. Cari Roccaro retook the lead for the visitors in the 72nd minute, but the Pride responded. A dangerous cross by Kerry Abello was redirected by Paige Nielsen past DiDi Haracic right in front of goal for another 2-2 draw.

The most surprising result came in the next game away to the league-leading San Diego Wave FC on Aug. 13. The game included three former Pride players in the opposition’s starting lineup, including Alex Morgan, Emily van Egmond, and Taylor Kornieck. Additionally, Jodie Taylor was on the bench but didn’t come into the game.

The difference in this one came in the 22nd minute when Christen Westphal knocked down a Doyle cross with her outstretched left arm. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the spot, giving the Pride a chance for a first-half lead. Meggie Dougherty Howard put the penalty past Kailen Sheridan into the corner, making it 1-0 Pride.

The Wave dominated the rest of the game, looking for an equalizer. Kornieck and Morgan had several chances each, with Morgan hitting the woodwork twice after the penalty. With her earlier ball off the post, she hit the frame three times in 90 minutes. But the Pride were able to hold on for an incredible 1-0 win over the highly-favored Southern Californian side.

Riding high following the win over San Diego, the Pride headed back east to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC in Chester, PA. The Pride were unquestionably the better team in this game against the worst team in the league. Celia gave the Pride the lead shortly after halftime and newly-acquired forward Ally Watt doubled the lead in the 73rd minute. Kristie Mewis got one back for the hosts two minutes later, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride won 2-1.

It was the first time the Pride won back-to-back games since late May 2021 when they won three in a row with a much more experienced team. Additionally, it was the first time since 2017 that the team had won consecutive games away from Orlando. The seven-game unbeaten run tied for the longest such run since 2017, when the Pride made their lone playoff appearance. The team had a nine-game unbeaten run to end that season and a seven-game unbeaten run to start the 2021 campaign.

The Pride returned home following the Gotham win but that’s when the streak ended. Dougherty Howard gave the Pride another lead in the 37th minute against OL Reign, but two of the league’s best players took over in the second half. Megan Rapinoe assisted Bethany Balcer with a great individual effort in the 54th minute and broke Orlando hearts with a winner two minutes into second-half injury time.

The Pride had trouble recovering with the end of the streak, experiencing four consecutive losses and losing five of their last six games. But the unbeaten run had a huge impact on the club and its fans.

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the club prior to the unbeaten run. Fans weren’t happy with the club’s decision to part with its longtime stars following the 2021 campaign and an unfounded Twitter rumor of a sale and relocation forced the club to respond. The actions of Cromwell and Greene put a club that had previously avoided involvement in the league-wide abuse scandals front and center, creating further dissatisfaction among fans.

In addition to the enjoyment of a seven-game unbeaten run, the streak came with Hines at the helm, someone who had been with the club since he was a player in 2015 and a Pride assistant since 2018. The players spoke regularly about how much they enjoyed playing for Hines and his emergency assistant coaches, Giles Barnes and Miguel Gallardo. Quickly, there was much more positivity around the club. Rather than worrying about the future, there’s now far more optimism about the team.

The Pride entered the 2022 NWSL season in the early stages of a full rebuild, so there were never going to be many positive moments. But the team’s seven-game unbeaten run turned around a problematic season and gave the fans something in which to take pride. As a result, there’s no question this streak deserves a spot on our top 10 moments of 2022.

Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2022.

Previous Top Moments of 2022

10. OCB nabs first win in MLS NEXT Pro play after joining the new league.

9. Orlando City signs Facundo Torres as a Young Designated Player ahead of the 2022 season.

8. Tesho Akindele establishes “Tesho Time” with late winners in consecutive games against Charlotte and New York City FC.

7. Jack Lynn scores 15 goals in a record-setting season with Orlando City B.


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