Orlando Pride vs. Portland Thorns: Final Score 4-0 as Pride Fall Again in Portland
The Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) started their 2023 NWSL campaign with a 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns (1-0-0, 3 points) at Providence Park. Goals by Morgan Weaver and Sophia Smith gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at halftime and Hina Sugita and Michele Vasconcelos both scored in the second half to put the game away.
Seb Hines’ first lineup as permanent head coach featured Anna Moorhouse in goal in front of a back line of Kylie Strom, Caitlin Cosme, Emily Madril, and Haley McCutcheon. Kerry Abello and Mikayla Cluff played behind an attacking midfield of Adriana, Marta, and Julie Doyle, with rookie Messiah Bright up top. It was Cosme’s first professional appearance and Madril and Adriana’s first NWSL games.
The surprise in the lineup was veteran center back Megan Montefusco on the bench, resulting in the young partnership of Cosme and Madril.
“They’re both making their NWSL debuts and it’s a great environment to do it,” Hines said after the game. “Playing here in front of a big crowd against the champions and you have to put young players in positions where they feel uncomfortable. And I thought they did well. I thought we were good in possession. Again, it’s a lot to learn from playing against the MVP (Smith) of the league. You know, probably one of the best players in the league. Portland were direct in transition. She’s a threat and I thought they dealt with it pretty well.”
Portland controlled the game from the outset with pressure on the Pride’s back line. Especially early in the first half, pressure from Smith and Christine Sinclair forced the young Pride defenders into crucial mistakes that gave the hosts some golden opportunities.
Portland had the first flurry of chances inside the first five minutes. The ball bounced around the box before being deflected out for a Thorns corner. Sinclair got her head to the ball, sending it to the back post where Smith was making a run. The U.S. international got to it first, but hit it into the outside netting.
The Thorns got their second chance of the game in the ninth minute when Crystal Dunn found Weaver on the left side of the field. The forward attempted an ambitious shot, but it was right at Moorhouse, who made the easy save.
The first Pride turnover that nearly resulted in a goal came in the 12th minute when a poor pass from Adriana to Marta gave possession to Smith. The Thorns attacker attempted to dribble through three defenders into the box, but Madril did well to stay in front and Marta tracked back to win it for the Pride.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 16th minute. Dunn used her speed to keep a ball towards the end line in play, immediately playing it back to Sugita. The Japanese midfielder sent a cross into the box for Sinclair, whose second touch was on goal and forced Moorhouse into a great one-handed save. Unfortunately, Madril and McCutcheon didn’t react and allowed Weaver to split the defenders, putting the Thorns up 1-0.
Portland doubled its lead just six minutes later with some poor play in the back by Madril and Cluff. Madril headed the ball forward for the midfielder, who played it back with Sinclair applying pressure. Rather than playing the ball outside, Madril sent it forward and it bounced off Sinclair, allowing her to win possession. She played it back for Smith near the penalty spot and the striker put it off the head of Cosme and into the Pride’s net, making it 2-0.
It looked like the Thorns might’ve made it 3-0 in the 26th minute when Sinclair pressured Cluff near the top of the Pride box and won possession. As Cluff went to the ground, Sinclair chipped the ball past Moorhouse. However, the referee, Eric Tattersall, called the play back for a foul on Sinclair, keeping the deficit at two goals.
Sam Coffey sent Smith long in the 30th minute, putting her behind the Pride back line. The striker took the ball into the box and to the left of goal, attempting to dribble around Moorhouse. Fortunately, her shot hit the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick.
The Pride’s inability to clear in the 34th minute provided Portland with multiple corners. Eventually, the chances provided an opportunity for Kelli Hubly to shoot from the top of the box, but Moorhouse tipped it wide. After another pair of corners, Sinclair headed the ball right at Moorhouse and the Pride were finally able to clear.
The Pride almost had their first good chance in the 37th minute when Adriana found some space and sent the ball in for Doyle. The cross was a little too far for the forward, and it was knocked out for a corner.
After the first corner was cleared out of play, the second found the head of Bright at the back post. The rookie outjumped the defenders for the ball, but it went over the bar for a goal kick. Despite the Pride not getting anything on target during the string of chances, it was the first time the Pride put the Thorns defense under some pressure.
On the other end, Smith used her speed to create some space for a shot on goal, but it was a low attempt right at Moorhouse. That was the last chance of the half as the Thorns took a 2-0 lead into the break.
The Pride ended the first 45 minutes with more possession (57.2%-42.8%), but they didn’t do much with it. Meanwhile, Portland had more shots (14-3), shots on target (7-0), corners (6-3), crosses (15-10), and duels won (24-13).
“At halftime, we felt like we were in this game,” McCutcheon said. “We were doing well in possession but just progressing that into the final third was something that we talked about. And controlling the transition moments, they obviously punished us on transition this game.”
The Pride needed a goal to get back into the game and they probably should’ve had an opportunity in the 47th minute. Adriana carried the ball into the Thorns box and attempted to cut it back. Hubly stuck her foot in to win it back and Adriana went down. However, Tattersall decided there wasn’t enough contact and waved play on.
On the other end, the Thorns extended their lead. The Pride attempted to play the ball out of the back, but Madril let it get too far out in front of her. Weaver tipped it to Smith, who carried the ball into the Pride box. Her shot was blocked by Moorhouse, but it went right in front of goal, where Sugita was charging in, putting it past Moorhouse to make it a 3-0 Thorns lead.
Following a Marta blocked shot in the 53rd minute, Adriana came the closest to scoring of any Pride player. Her shot from the top of the box was on target and close to Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby. However, Bixby was shielded by multiple players, making it difficult to see. As a result, it took a diving save to keep the ball out of the net.
The first change for the Pride came in the 54th minute. It was Marta’s first competitive game for the Pride since tearing her ACL exactly a year ago and she admitted prior to the game that she wasn’t 100 percent. The club is taking its time bringing her back to full health, so she was taken off after 54 minutes and replaced by rookie Summer Yates, who made her pro debut.
Bright had her second opportunity on goal in the 58th minute, following a set piece by Adriana. However, the header was the same result as her first attempt, missing the target.
Portland had a dangerous chance in the 60th minute, when a cross into the box was blocked right in front of goal by Moorhouse. It was similar to the Sugita goal, but this time the English goalkeeper was able to jump on it, keeping the deficit at three.
Pushing the other way, Adriana made a long run through the Thorns midfield and took a shot from the top of the box, but it was wide right of the target and no trouble for Bixby. Soon after, the Pride made two more changes, bringing Jordyn Listro and Haley Bugeja on for Cluff and Bright.
Portland found its fourth goal in the 76th minute. It started on the Thorns’ side of the field as some nifty footwork by Sugita left two Pride attackers in the dust. She sent the ball forward for Smith, who took it into the box and sent a low, hard cross in front of goal. McCutcheon allowed second-half substitute Vasconcelos to get goal side, allowing her to reach the ball first. Vasconcelos did well with her first touch, putting it past Moorhouse to make the score 4-0.
The assist was the last action of the game for Smith, who left to a rousing ovation from the large Providence Park crowd. Following a goal and an assist, she was replaced by 2023 NWSL first-round pick Izzy D’Aquila.
Olivia Moultrie, who came on for Dunn in the 63rd minute, nearly made it five for the hosts in the 83rd minute with a curling shot from the top of the box. However, Moorhouse did well to dive to her left, getting her fingertips to the ball and sending it wide of the goal.
Two minutes later, Moorhouse was called into action again when Moultrie shot from distance. Moorhouse blocked the shot, but it went right in front of her for the third time in the game. Rocky Rodriguez took the second attempt from close range, but Moorhouse blocked it again. Fortunately, a foul was called on D’Aquila before a third attempt was taken and the Pride were able to clear.
The Pride had one final attempt to get something from the game in injury time when Doyle took a shot from just inside the box, but it was high and wide. That was the last chance for either team.
The Pride ended the game with more possession (51.4%-48.6%), but were dominated in most other statistical categories. The Thorns had more shots (26-9), shots on goal (16-1), corners (10-7), crosses (25-21), duels won (43-40), and passing accuracy (82.6%-79.8%).
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the result and the goals that we conceded. But I think there’s a lot of positives to take away,” Hines said about the game. “We came here and tried to play the right way. We tried to control the game in possession. And when you do that there has to be an objective to score and I don’t think we created enough opportunities to score. And that’s something that we’ll review and look back in video and ultimately, you know, going into the season we want to possess to score goals. Credit to Portland, they got us on those transitions, very direct, very front-footed. And, you know, again, we just have to evaluate moving forward.”
“Obviously disappointed. You know, everybody wants to start the season off strong and we were more than prepared to do so,” McCutcheon added. “And, you know, this is a tough place to play, but we’re going to keep our heads held high because we came here and tried to play the way we want to play so we’ll be happy with that.”
Hines’ first trip to Portland as the interim head coach last year ended in a 6-0 drubbing. With this 4-0 defeat, he’s now seen his team lose by a combined score of 10-0 at Providence Park. However, Hines is not the only Pride coach to experience this. The Pride are now 1-8-0 all-time in Portland and have been outscored 27-9 in those nine contests.
The team will look to bounce back next Sunday when it welcomes Angel City FC to Exploria Stadium for the Pride’s home opener.
Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC NWSL Challenge Cup Game Postponed
The Pride were scheduled to face NJ/NY Gotham FC in New Jersey, but poor air quality has postponed the game until Aug. 9.
Tonight’s NWSL Challenge Cup game between the Orlando Pride and NJ/NY Gotham FC has been postponed by the NWSL. The league released a statement this afternoon stating that poor air quality conditions in the New York metropolitan area was the cause of the postponement. The game will now be played on Aug. 9.
The Pride were originally scheduled to continue their 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup campaign at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, as they search for their first win of the competition. However, wildfires in eastern Canada have caused deteriorating smoky and hazy conditions that New Jersey residents started experiencing Tuesday evening. Forecasts for Wednesday night showed that conditions were expected worsen, resulting in the postponement of the game.
“The safety of our players, officials, and fans is our top priority,” the NWSL said in a press release. “Following consultation with the NWSL Medical and Operations staff, it was determined that the match could not be safely conducted based on the projected air quality index.”
The scheduling of the game should benefit the Pride. They played Saturday night in a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dash and welcome the Portland Thorns to Exploria Stadium Sunday night. The makeup game comes during a league break for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Pride play a Challenge Cup game at home on Aug. 4, but don’t play again until they host the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 20. However, they could be without some key players for that match, depending on who is selected for their respective World Cup squads.
The game on Aug. 9 will still take place at Red Bull Arena at 7:30 p.m. However, rather than being a televised contest on CBS Sports Network, it will now be exclusively on Paramount+ in the United States.
Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
The Pride look to get their first 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup win as they take on NJ/NY Gotham FC in New Jersey.
[Editor’s note: There is some question as to whether this match will take place tonight with wildfires wreaking havoc with the air quality in the area. The Pride and Gotham FC have been in contact with the NWSL, which is monitoring the situation.]
Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) take on NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-0-1, 4 points) at Red Bull Arena in the NWSL Challenge Cup. This is the first of two Challenge Cup meetings between these two teams, with the second game in Orlando scheduled for June 28.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride have faced Gotham FC 21 times since joining the NWSL in 2016. They’re 7-8-6 in all competitions and 4-2-4 away from home. In Challenge Cup games, the Pride are 0-2-1 in three games against Gotham and 0-0-1 up north.
This is the second time the two teams have met at Red Bull Arena this year. The first meeting came on May 14 in regular season play. The Pride were the better team and created more chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net and the game ended in a scoreless draw.
The Pride and Gotham met for the first time this season on April 15 at Exploria Stadium. The game looked to be headed for a draw, but Gotham struck twice in second-half injury time. Midge Purce converted a penalty 10 minutes into stoppage time for the latest goal in NWSL history. The attacker then assisted Lynn Williams seven minutes later, setting a new record as the Pride fell 2-0. The Professional Referee Organization stated publicly that the penalty given for a handball on Caitlin Cosme did not meet its standards for being clear and obvious enough for a review, but that won’t change the standings.
The two teams met four times last season, twice in the NWSL regular season and twice in the Challenge Cup. The first game was a Challenge Cup meeting on March 30 at Exploria Stadium. It looked to be heading for a 0-0 draw before Purce scored a late winner. The next meeting was April 23 at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Gunny Jonsdottir gave the Pride the lead, but Toni Pressley got tangled up with Ifeoma Onumonu, resulting in a penalty. Anna Moorhouse guessed the right way, but Kristie Mewis put it into the bottom corner, evening the game just before the half. Neither team could find a winner and it ended 1-1.
The teams opened the 2022 NWSL regular season against each other on May 1 in Orlando. After two close match-ups in the preseason, this one was all Gotham as goals by McCall Zerboni, Purce, and Mewis lifted the visitors to a 3-0 win. On Aug. 20, they played for the final time in 2022 at Subaru Park in Chester, PA. Celia and Ally Watt built the Pride a 2-0 lead. Mewis got one back for the hosts, but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win.
The Pride and Gotham also met four times in 2021, with the first coming in the Pride’s inaugural Challenge Cup campaign. On April 14, Paige Monaghan’s goal lifted Gotham to a 1-0 win. The first regular-season game that year came on June 20 in Orlando. The visitors took the lead through Caprice Dydasco, but Courtney Petersen equalized, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
On Aug. 29, the teams played at Red Bull Arena. Erika Tymrak’s long-range goal lifted the Pride to a 2-1 win. The teams played one final, high-scoring game on Oct. 9. It was a bad start for the Pride as Gaetane Thiney scored a brace and Purce made it 3-0 late. But the Pride came storming back with goals by Tymrak and Marta, falling just short in a 3-2 final.
The Pride and Gotham were in different groups for the 2020 Fall Series, so the last time they met prior to 2021 was in 2019, when the New Jersey-based club was still called Sky Blue FC. They first met that year on June 22 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. Chioma Ubogagu gave the Pride the lead from the penalty spot and Sarah Killion equalized. The difference was a Gina Lewandowski own goal as the Pride won 2-1. On July 20, they met at Exploria Stadium. Marisa Viggiano’s goal won it for the Pride, 1-0. The final game occurred on Sept. 29 in New Jersey. Shelina Zadorsky gave the Pride the lead, but Carli Lloyd equalized in a 1-1 draw.
The teams met three times in 2018, starting on June 16 in Orlando, when a Sydney Leroux brace led the Pride to a 3-2 win. They met again in Orlando on Aug. 5, with the Pride giving up a 1-0 after Marta’s opening goal. But Dani Weatherholt equalized in a 2-2 draw. The final meeting in 2018 came on Sept. 8 in New Jersey — the final game of the season. There was only one goal in this one as Lloyd won it for Sky Blue FC.
The 2017 season saw the Pride and Sky Blue meet three times. The first was May 27 in New Jersey, where the Pride lost 2-1. They met again in New Jersey on June 28 and the Pride won, 3-2. The final meeting was on Aug. 12 in Orlando and the Pride won by its largest margin in team history, beating Sky Blue, 5-0.
The 2016 season was the first time the two teams met, with the inaugural game coming on Sept. 7 in New Jersey. Alex Morgan and Sam Kerr swapped goals in a 1-1 draw. They met again three days later in Orlando, with Sky Blue winning, 2-1.
The Pride scored first in each of their first two Challenge Cup games this year. Ally Watt gave the Pride the lead at Exploria Stadium on April 19 against the North Carolina Courage in the 56th minute. It looked like they would hold on for three points, but Denise O’Sullivan scored nine minutes into second-half injury time to equalize. The second game was against the Washington Spirit at Audi Field and Tori Hansen gave the visitors the lead just 10 minutes into the game. But an onslaught of long-distance goals lifted the Spirit to a 4-2 win.
The Pride look to get their first Challenge Cup win of 2023 tonight in New Jersey. The squad will be heavily rotated, especially with the Portland Thorns coming to town on Sunday night. While the team will still look to bring home the three points, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines will use this game as an opportunity to get playing time for players.
Similar to the Pride, Gotham used arguably its best lineup in the first Challenge Cup game against the Spirit. Lynn Williams’ 56th-minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 result. Gotham heavily rotated its lineup for the second game on May 3, a 1-1 draw with the Courage. It conceded just three minutes into the game, but went for the win by bringing on Kristie Mewis, Ali Krieger, and Williams at halftime. Williams equalized late and Gotham took a point from the game.
Gotham’s plan tonight will likely be similar to its second game. The Pride will need to get a good start to the game, because Hines has shown little interest in bringing regular starters into Challenge Cup games. If the Pride want to get three points, they’ll need to score before Gotham’s attacking starters come on.
“Obviously, (Gotham is) looking to win a game the same as us. Playing them a couple of times, they may change shape, they may change formation depending on the personnel they have, but we have to focus on ourselves,” Hines said about tonight’s opponent. “We’re looking to bounce back from this weekend and get three points and keep getting momentum and getting that ball rolling again. Momentum is such a key factor in a season so getting a win against Jersey will be great for the squad and the players.”
The Pride will play this game without Carrie Lawrence (knee) and Erika Tymrak (ankle). Kaylie Collins (hand) and Amanda Allen (lower leg) are listed as questionable. Gotham will be without Imani Dorsey (excused absence), Sabrina Flores (foot), Kelley O’Hara (ankle), Midge Purce (hip), and Taryn Torres (knee).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Carly Nelson.
Defenders: Celia, Tori Hansen, Caitlin Cosme, Brianna Martinez.
Defensive Midfielders: Jordyn Listro, Kerry Abello.
Midfielders: Haley Bugeja, Thais Reiss, Summer Yates.
Forwards: Julie Doyle.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Michelle Betos.
Defenders: Jenna Nighswonger, Ellie Jean, Mandy Freeman, Bruninha.
Midfielders: McCall Zerboni, Nealy Martin, Sinead Farrelly.
Forwards: Svana Ros Gudmundsdottir, Delanie Sheehan, Ifeoma Onumonu.
REF: Greg Dopka.
AR1: Stephen Milhoan.
AR2: Jessica Carnevale.
4TH: Sergii Boiko.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Emma Richards.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow @TheManeLand and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!
Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Drop Second Straight
The Houston press was too much for the Pride as they drop their second straight game.
The Orlando Pride (3-6-1, 10 points) fell for the second consecutive game, losing to the Houston Dash (4-3-3, 15 points) 2-0 in Texas. Sophie Hirst gave the hosts the lead in the sixth minute and Michelle Alozie doubled the advantage shortly before halftime. They held onto that lead for the entire second half, sending the Pride home with an 0-2-0 road trip.
Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change to the team that fell 1-0 to the Chicago Red Stars last weekend. Regular starter Viviana Villacorta returned to the lineup after a game off, replacing Marta. The back four in front of Anna Moorhouse remained the same, with Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Haley McCutcheon. Villacorta joined Mikalya Cluff, Adriana, Erika Tymrak, and Kerry Abello in the midfield, and Messiah Bright started up top.
Coming off a game where the Pride dominated and just couldn’t find the back of the net, they were never really in this one. The Houston press created headaches in the first half with the Pride giving up the ball up in their own third on multiple occasions. They also couldn’t create much offensively, failing to challenge Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
The Pride got off to a poor start, conceding in the sixth minute. The hosts got a corner kick when Madril cleared the ball out of play and a second when Abello blocked the first corner out. The ensuing set piece was into the arms of Moorhouse, but the goalkeeper spilled it right in front of goal. Hirst was the first player to the ball, flicking it with the outside of her foot past Moorhouse and in to give the Dash an early 1-0 lead.
They nearly doubled their advantage in the ninth minute when Sophie Schmidt sent Diana Ordonez behind the Pride back line. It was a foot race between Ordonez and Moorhouse to the ball, with the Pride goalkeeper reaching it just before the attacker outside of the box.
A minute later, the Pride had their first good chance of the game. Adriana was sent down the right and towards the end line. She reached the ball before it went out of play, sending it to the penalty spot where Bright was waiting. The striker had her back to the goal, but did well to turn and get off a first-touch shot. Unfortunately, she got under the ball and sent it over the target.
The Dash had a great chance in the 17th minute when Madril gave the ball away to the pressuring Alozie. The forward had Ordonez wide open in the middle of the box, but decided to take it herself. Montefusco did well to close down the attacker, deflecting the shot into the hands of Moorhouse.
The Pride almost had a chance in the 20th minute when Montefusco made a good run into the midfield, breaking the Houston press. She found Tymrak in the center circle, who played it forward for Adriana. However, the Brazilian lost the ball at the top of the box before she could get a shot off.
The Dash appeared to have a great opportunity in the 28th minute when Villacorta gave the ball up in her own third to Joelle Anderson. The midfielder played to Maria Sanchez on the left, who continued it forward to Ordonez. Moorhouse did well to come out and challenge the forward, but the flag went up for offside anyway.
In the 39th minute, Abello was sent down the left by Tymrak. Her deflected cross was punched away by Campbell, but went right to Adriana. The Brazilian flicked it over for Bright, who played it right back to Adriana, but her shot was blocked. Abello ended up with the ball again and beat her defender to find enough space for a shot, but it was deflected into the side of the net.
The second Pride corner of that attack went all the way through for a throw in and the Dash took advantage. Anderson sent a long, low ball forward for Alozie making a run behind the Pride defense. Madril got her foot to it, but not enough to keep it from finding the forward. Strom caught up to her in the box, but Alozie cut back for space and sent it past Moorhouse to give Houston a commanding 2-0 lead.
The hosts had one last first-half opportunity in the 43rd minute when Alozie found Ordonez at the top of the box. The Mexican international was between the two Pride center backs and found enough space to take a shot, but Moorhouse did well to get down and make the stop, keeping the halftime deficit at two goals.
The Pride had more first-half possession (57.2%-42.8%), corners (6-4), crosses (16-10), and passing accuracy (71.8%-67.4%), but the Dash had more shots (6-4) and shots on target (3-0). Most importantly, the hosts had a two-goal lead.
“I told them at halftime that we need to be better on the ball. We were a little bit sloppy, a little bit lackadaisical in our passing details,” Hines said about his halftime speech. “I like to control the game. I don’t mind teams pressing us, because the more they press, the more they commit, the more space that they leave. So, we have to clean that up.”
Hines made one halftime change trying to get his team back into the game, bringing on Marta for Villacorta. The change saw Adriana move outside to her usual position and Abello back alongside Cluff. It was Marta’s 82nd NWSL regular-season appearance with the Pride, passing Ashlyn Harris and Toni Pressley for the most in team history.
The Dash had a chance for their third goal less than a minute into the second half when Ordonez found Anderson in the box. The attacker turned to shoot on goal, but didn’t get much on the attempt and Moorhouse made a relatively easy save.
The Pride should’ve gotten a goal back in the 48th minute when Caprice Dydasco fouled Abello. Adriana’s free kick found the head of Strom wide open and just a few feet in front of goal at the near post. But her header somehow went wide, squandering a golden opportunity to get back into the game.
After making an attacking change at halftime, Hines made a like-for-like substitution in the 57th minute as Julie Doyle came on for Bright.
In the 62nd minute, Sanchez sent Marisa Viggiano towards the end line on the left. Viggiano got a cross off into the box and found the head of Ordonez, who tried to send it towards the far post. But she couldn’t get enough of it and Moorhouse easily collected it.
Montefusco fouled Schmidt in the 64th minute, creating another good chance for the hosts. It looked like Moorhouse had Sanchez’s ball, but she didn’t come out as aggressively as she should’ve, only sending it to the top of the box. It ended up with Hirst at the penalty spot, but her shot was right at Moorhouse.
Immediately after that chance, the Pride made two more changes, bringing on Celia and Ally Watt for Tymrak and Cluff.
It didn’t take long for Watt to get involved as she was sent behind the Dash defense in the 68th minute. The striker’s shot was right to Campbell, but the ball slipped under her arm and rolled towards the goal. The roll was slow enough for Campbell to jump on the ball before it reached the goal line.
In the 71st minute, Adriana made a good run to the top of the Houston box, drawing the defenders and finding Watt wide open on the right. The forward took her second shot of the game, but Campbell made a good stop, pushing it away and the Dash cleared the danger.
Two minutes later, Adriana found Strom on the left and the left back sent a good ball into the box, finding the head of Marta. The Brazilian headed the ball towards the far post, but missed wide.
In the 76th minute, the Pride had a chance when the Dash had trouble clearing the ball out of their box. They briefly got it out, but McCutcheon sent it right back in. Dydasco was the first player to the ball, but her clearance attempt went behind her and into the path of Doyle for a header on goal. It was a strong header, but too close to Campbell.
The Pride made their final change in the 79th minute, when Summer Yates entered the game for Abello.
The Dash seemed fine holding onto their two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes and neither team was able to create solid opportunities. Marta took a shot in the 80th minute, and second-half substitute Ebony Salmon found space for a shot in the 86th minute, but both were right at the goalkeepers.
The Pride had a good chance in the 88th minute when Adriana made a strong run into the box and sent it to Doyle near the penalty spot. The striker slipped as she attempted to shoot, but still put the ball on target. However, Campbell did well to block it away, keeping the deficit at two goals.
As the game entered injury time, the fourth official showed eight minutes, a welcome sight for the Pride. It was mostly due to an injury to Natalie Jacobs, who had to go through a concussion test late in the half before she could be removed from the field and the game could continue.
Despite the eight minutes, the Pride weren’t able to create any good chances. McCutcheon played Celia through four minutes into stoppage time, but it was too far and went out for a goal kick. In the final minute, Adriana attempted a shot from long distance, but it wasn’t any trouble for Campbell, and the Dash held on for a 2-0 win.
Statistically, the game was quite close. The Pride had more possession (55.4%-44.6%), corners (8-4), crosses (27-16), and passing accuracy (69.5%-62.1%). Both teams had 13 shots and Houston put more on target (7-6). But the Pride shots didn’t cause Campbell much trouble, with the team failing to score for the second consecutive game and the third time in four games.
“Today we weren’t the better team, Houston was the better team,” Hines said after the game. “They made it difficult for us, they pressed us really hard, and we looked like we weren’t prepared for that. And that’s the most disappointing thing. You know, we want to play the way that we want to play. We have to dictate the game. We have to control the tempo of the game, and we didn’t do that. And even though we didn’t do the fundamentals, the basics right, we still created chances to score. We’ve gone two games now without scoring and that has to change.”
“It’s not one person’s fault tonight,” Montefusco added. “It was a collective. You know, we can’t point fingers at anybody. We’re a group, we’re a team, and we’ve got to lift each other. We’ve shown what we can do and we have to lean into that. We have to find a way. These games on the road are tough and we know that. And I think going forward, we’re just gonna stick together as a group.”
The Pride will stay on road for the Challenge Cup, taking on NJ/NY Gotham FC Wednesday night at Red Bull Arena. Then they’ll return home for regular-season action, welcoming the league-leading Portland Thorns to Exploria Stadium.
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