Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. Kansas City Current: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Beat Kansas City Current in Open Preseason Game



The Orlando Pride opened Exploria Stadium up to fans for the first time in 2023 for the team’s annual open preseason game. Julie Doyle opened the scoring for the hosts inside the first minute and Ally Watt doubled the lead in the second half, lifting their team to a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Current. Orlando improved to 2-0-0 in the 2023 preseason with both wins coming by the same score against NWSL competition.

Seb Hines’ lineup included Anna Moorhouse in goal in front of Haley McCutcheon, Megan Montefusco, Emily Madril, and Kylie Strom. Jordyn Listro, Nicole Baxter, Mikayla Cluff, and Erika Tymrak made up the midfield, with Doyle and Messiah Bright up top.

The Pride had almost everyone available tonight off the bench, with unlimited substitutions. Marta wasn’t with the team tonight after playing for Brazil in the SheBelieves Cup. Adriana was on the bench despite playing in all three games for Brazil, but didn’t make an appearance.

The Pride got off to the best possible start in this preseason friendly. About 30 seconds into the game, Bright picked the ball up around midfield and sprinted towards the Kansas City box. Doyle and Cluff were making runs in and Bright played it across. Doyle beat Current goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz to the ball, putting it past her to give the Pride a 1-0 lead. Doyle now has a goal in each appearance this preseason as she challenges for a starting spot in the regular season.

The collision resulted in Doyle staying down after scoring. She received some attention from the Pride medical staff, but got up and was able to continue.

Bright nearly had a chance for herself in the third minute when she was sent behind the Current defense. However, her first touch was too heavy, and Kansas City was able to clear the danger.

After Bright’s opportunity, Kansas City started to create its own chances. The Pride were unable to find possession beyond the halfway line, usually giving the ball up before reaching the opposition’s side of the field.

The Current’s first chance of the game came in the fourth minute when a good run down the right created an opportunity, but the Pride were able to clear it out of play. The ensuing corner kick was to the back post but headed right to Moorhouse, who caught it.

The Current had another chance in the ninth minute when Mimmi Larsson created space inside the box for a shot. Moorhouse did well to get low and knock it away with her foot, maintaining the Pride’s one-goal lead.

Kansas City nearly had a chance in the 21st minute when Larsson was played through the Pride back line. But it was too far for the Swede and Moorhouse was able to collect it. That was the last play of the game for Silkowitz as Cassie Miller came on in a first-half goalkeeping change.

The 27th minute saw the Pride get their first solid chance since the first minute of the game. Doyle found space on the left to get a cross into the box. It reached Bright, but her first-touch shot was blocked. The deflection went to Cluff, who sent the second shot right at Miller.

Bright had another chance in the 39th minute when Baxter blocked a pass near midfield. Bright ended up with the ball and headed towards the Current goal. Nearing the six-yard box, Bright took a shot, but it was knocked wide by the foot of Miller for a Pride corner kick.

The NWSL was testing VAR in this game and the first opportunity came in the 41st minute. Larsson took down Tymrak just outside of the Kansas City box. The forward was booked for the foul, and referee Elvis Osmanovic went to his ear as the check ensued. However, they determined the foul was outside of the box with Osmanovic going to the monitor.

Kansas City had one more opportunity at goal in injury time, but the shot was right at Moorhouse, who had no trouble with it. At halftime, Doyle’s first-minute goal was the difference as the Pride took a 1-0 lead into the break.

The Pride made two changes at halftime, as Carly Nelson replaced Moorhouse and Thais Reiss, who is a non-roster invitee this preseason, replaced Baxter.

The Current got off to the better second-half start, creating a pair of chances inside the first two minutes. However, both were right at Nelson, who had no trouble with them.

The first second-half opportunity for the Pride came in the 48th minute when Bright was sent over the top. She attempted a cross, but it was blocked out of play for a corner. The short corner went to Strom, who popped it up and into the arms of the Current goalkeeper, ending the threat.

The Pride had an opportunity with a free kick in the 58th minute when Tymrak was taken out about 25 yards away from goal. Reiss stepped up to take the kick and went for goal, but sent the shot wide of the target.

The Pride made a triple substitution in the 61st minute, bringing on Ally Watt, Maliah Morris, and Summer Yates. Watt was on the team last year, Morris is a trialist, and Yates was selected in the fourth round of the 2023 NWSL Draft. The three replaced Bright, Tymrak, and Listro.

It didn’t take long for two of the substitutes to make an impact as they combined in the 63rd minute for the Pride’s second goal. Yates played a lovely ball through for Watt, who shielded her defender and put it in, giving the Pride a 2-0 lead.

“As a forward you need to take the opportunities that come to you,” Watt said about her goal. “So I really tried to focus and just pass the ball into the back of the net. And Summer did an amazing job playing the ball in transition. I think the rookies have been doing amazing. They have been really just meshing well into our culture that we’re building this year and we love all of them. Summer is honestly one of my favorites.”

Many predicted that Yates would be a first-round selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft. However, she slipped all the way to the fourth round, where the Pride picked her. Her quality showed in the half hour she was on the field, showing that Pride might have acquired the steal of the draft.

“She’s a technical footballer and she likes to get in good areas. She wants to turn and she wants to assist players, and what you saw today is what she’s done from the very start,” Hines said about Yates. “We just keep letting her know that she’s doing the right things. And it’s not always going to pay off. It’s not always going to come off every single time but just that positive reinforcement goes a long way for a young player like Summer. And she was brilliant today. She was tremendous.”

The Pride had a chance for a third in the 65th minute when Watt made a good run into the box. She took the ball to the end line, but it was cleared out for a corner. Doyle sent the ensuing corner to the back post, where it met the head of Reiss. However, the Brazilian sent the driving header over the crossbar.

It appeared as though the Current had gotten one back in the 69th minute when a good buildup provided a cross from the left. The strong cross was met head-on by an attacker (the Current players didn’t wear numbers, making identification difficult), who put it past Nelson, but the flag was up. Osmanovic went to his ear for the second time in the game, but the check revealed it was the correct decision, keeping the score 2-0.

The Pride made four more changes in the 80th minute during the second-half hydration break. Konya Plummer, Tori Hansen, Caitlin Cosme, and Channing Foster replaced Montefusco, Madril, Doyle, and McCutcheon. The final two changes for the Pride came in the 86th minute, as UCF alum Kristen Scott and goalkeeper McKinley Crone came on for Strom and Nelson.

It didn’t take Crone long to see her first action, as a short free kick in the 88th minute resulted in a cross into the box. The attacker did well to get her first touch on goal, but it was right into the arms of Crone, who made her first save of the night.

Watt created an opportunity for the Pride to extend their lead to three goals when she tried to beat the Current goalkeeper to her near post. However, the ball was tipped wide of the post for a Pride corner kick. The Pride decided to keep the ball in the corner instead of trying to find a third goal and held on for the 2-0 win.

“Obviously pleased with the result,” Hines said after the game. “Anytime you score two goals and keep a clean sheet, you’re going to be happy and I think the biggest thing for me was making sure everyone played a part. So that’s why we wanted to make sure that we played every single player. Everyone got minutes on the field in front of the fans. We’re building something here and it’s great to get the results in the annual event as well. So, really pleased with how the night went.”

“I think KC’s a really good opponent. And I think every game we just try to take steps forward. That’s our goal, and just keep the progression going,” Madril said after the game. “So I think comparing today’s game to last game, I think we did take steps in the right direction. And I think, you know, got a clean sheet, which is good and two quality goals. So I think we just keep taking steps in the right direction and keep building on what we’re doing in training.”

One of the bright spots was — no pun intended — Bright, especially early in the game. She got the assist on the first goal and created multiple opportunities and nearly scored on two occasions from her forward position. Her size and speed created problems for the Kansas City back line — something that Hines mentioned after the game.

“With Messiah, she brings a pace, a power. She’s a threat in multiple aspects of the game. She’s good with her back to goal, which can link players underneath, but also that fear factor of threatening behind,” Hines said. “Speed is a really good attribute to have. Being an ex-defender, it’s not always nice to defend against either. So with Messiah and Ally Watt, who also is lightning quick, we’ve got more of a threat behind.”

The Pride have three more games this preseason before their season opener. They’ll take on UCF Tuesday, Florida State next Saturday, and wrap up the preseason slate against the Washington Spirit on March 17. The Pride will begin the 2023 NWSL season away to the Portland Thorns on March 26.


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