2023 SheBelieves Cup Round 1 Photo Gallery
After Japan and Brazil provided the appetizer, the United States Women’s National Team took to the Exploria Stadium pitch Thursday night for a showdown with rival Canada in the first round of the 2023 SheBelieves Cup. The event has stopped regularly at Exploria Stadium over the years since its inception and Thursday’s play opened the 2023 rendition of the competition.
Japan and Brazil played to a stalemate until Orlando Pride forward Marta entered the match just past the halfway mark in the second half. It was her first match appearance since undergoing knee surgery in spring of 2022 and it took her only a few minutes to make an impact. She threaded a perfect pass through the Japanese defense from the left that allowed teammate Debinha to make an easy finish. It turned out to be the only score of the game as the Brazilians took the opener, 1-0. Pride forward Adriana played the first half on the wing and the second half as a deep-lying midfielder in her first game at Exploria Stadium since being signed by the home team.
Prior to the second game, former Pride forward Alex Morgan was honored for earning 200 career international caps. The USWNT then joined Canada in a show of solidarity at midfield. The Canadian women had a difficult week as they face a battle for fair treatment from their federation. A potential strike loomed over the event earlier in the week, but Ontario labor laws prohibited that from happening due to a lack of adequate notice before the match.
After the nightcap kicked off, the United States jumped on Canada early with intense pressure and a couple of strikes from Mallory Swanson. The Yanks nearly gave one back late in the half but saw out the opening period with a two-goal lead. There were opportunities to extend the lead in the second half but the U.S. attackers were wasteful — particularly substitute Ashley Hatch, who had two excellent opportunities to make it three. Hatch has rarely missed an opportunity to score at Exploria Stadium before, so it was a little strange to see her waste two high-percentage chances.
In the end, the USWNT held on for a 2-0 win to maintain its perfect record at Exploria Stadium. By virtue of a better goal differential, the U.S. headed to Round 2 in Nashville atop the competition’s standings.
We hope you enjoy these images from an exciting night of international soccer in the City Beautiful.
Images: Dan MacDonald
Words: Michael Citro
Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Photo Gallery
An album of images from Orlando City’s 3-1 win at Inter Miami.
The visiting Lions (5-4-4) feasted on the Herons (5-8-0), dominating the first 30 minutes, absorbing pressure as needed after Inter Miami made a tactical change, and then getting back on the front foot with a second-half change of their own. In the end, Orlando City left Fort Lauderdale with a 3-1 victory over its intrastate rivals, holding the hosts to just six shot attempts.
The traveling supporters chanted, cheered, and heckled away, trying desperately to overpower the artificially piped-in chant loop (which quite frankly is a shame — La Familia are more than strong enough to not have to compete with their own stadium).
Goal contributions from Ercan Kara and Martin Ojeda (a goal and an assist each) and Duncan McGuire (one assist off the bench), plus less regular offensive contributors Rafael Santos, who scored his first MLS goal, Cesar Araujo (his first assist of the season) and Rodrigo Schlegel (his first career assist) allowed Orlando to raid Miami’s Fort Lauderdale nest and return home with all three points.
We hope you enjoy the images from the away day in Fort Lauderdale!
Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Photo Gallery
An album of images from the Pride’s 2-0 loss at Exploria Stadium.
Well, the Orlando Pride managed to dodge the lightning and most of the raindrops, but couldn’t quite dodge video review, as referee Elvis Osmanovic changed his initial ruling, awarding Gotham a penalty. That decision led to a late Pride loss to Gotham at Exploria Stadium, leaving Orlando pointless (0-3-0) on the nascent season.
The first half saw both teams able to advance the ball, but neither was able to provide the final pass or finish chances. The second half settled into more of a rhythm, with each team sustaining advantage for sections of the final 45 (plus) minutes, but the same inability in the attacking third persisted for both teams. It looked as if the game would end in a scoreless draw until a glacial video review awarded Gotham a penalty for a Caitlin Cosme handball in the box. Midge Purce smartly converted in the upper right, leaving Kaylie Collins no chance in her NWSL debut. Whether it was disappointment at conceding in stoppage time the second week in a row, or the distraction of the six-minute (!) VAR stoppage, Orlando lost focus and conceded a second goal in the 17th minute of added time (you read that correctly…17 minutes!) to seal the loss.
Despite the impending weather and the disappointing previous games, a decent crowd of 5,258 came out to support the team. That, combined with the club’s efforts to engage the spectators at halftime (T-shirt cannon anyone?), made for a refreshed atmosphere that hopefully will help energize the Pride into some better results soon. We hope that comes across in the photos from the game and we encourage you to attend one soon.
OCB vs. Inter Miami II: Photo Gallery
An album of images from the Young Lions’ 2-0 win at Osceola County Stadium.
Inter Miami sent its reserve squad north to take on Orlando City B, but the Young Herons and the cool, drizzly night couldn’t quench blazing hot OCB, which defended its home turf with a 2-0 victory, staying undefeated on the young season, at 3-0-0.
Goals in the first half by starting forwards Jack Lynn and Favian Loyola proved enough to frustrate Orlando’s southern neighbors on a night that did not see OCB goalkeeper Javier Otero challenged much. Otero came up big when it counted though, smothering a well-placed penalty early in the second half and making a vital reaction save late to ensure that the visitors could not climb back into the game. Strong defending as the game wound down ensured the clean sheet.
We hope that you enjoy the photos from the game. Vamos OCB!
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