Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Final Score 2-0 as Pride Concede Latest Goal in NWSL History

Pride concede two latest goals in NWSL history to fall 2-0 to NJ/NY Gotham FC.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride (0-3-0, 0 points) experienced more late-game drama, falling 2-0 to NJ/NY Gotham FC (2-1-0, 6 points) at Exploria Stadium. Midge Purce converted a penalty after a controversial handball in the box and Lynn Williams sealed it for the visitors with the latest goal in NWSL history.

The big surprise in the Pride lineup tonight was the inclusion of Kaylie Collins in goal. Regular starter Anna Moorhouse wasn’t in the team at all and Carly Nelson, the team’s primary backup, was on the bench. 

“We had a few minor injuries. Kaylie’s been with the team for a while now and she’s waited for an opportunity,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said about starting his 23-year-old goalkeeper. “It’s given her exposure. It’s her time. So again, we’re always challenging players, we’re questioning players for places and to be in the starting 11. That continues with the goalkeepers as well.”

“Excited to get the start,” Collins added. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity. Honestly, it’s just the start so I’m feeling good about that.”

The rest of the lineup was as expected, including Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Caitlin Cosme, and Haley McCutcheon in the back, Kerry Abello, Mikayla Cluff, Adriana, Marta, and Erika Tymrak in the midfield, and Messiah Bright up top.

The game was pretty even to start with a giveaway in the back providing Gotham with the first chance. But the shot was right at Collins, who easily grabbed it. The Pride had a chance of their own a minute later when Abello shot from the top of the box, but Gotham goalkeeper Abby Smith was there to make the save.

In the sixth minute, Strom made a nice overlapping run and received the ball from Marta on the left. The outside back sent a cross into the box for oncoming attackers, but it was too close to Smith, who had no trouble collecting it.

The game settled down after the first six minutes as both teams attempted to build an attack. The next chance came in the 14th minute when Ifeoma Onumonu charged down the right sideline. She made her way into the Pride box, but Cosme was there to block the cross out of play.

In the 19th minute, Adriana was played behind the Gotham back line. She attempted to play it across for Marta, who was making a run into the Gotham box, but sent it a little too far ahead of her. Gotham was unable to clear and Marta regained possession for the Pride. She sent a lovely ball into the six-yard box where Adriana had made a run, but her header was just wide of the target.

Shortly after, the Pride appeared to have another good chance when Tymrak played a diagonal ball from the left for Adriana. The Brazilian raced Smith to the ball outside of the box, but the goalkeeper got there first, clearing it away.

After serving as a game-changing substitute against Angel City, Bright was quieter in this one. However, she had a chance in the 25th minute when the rookie turned her defender twice, creating enough space to get a shot off. Unfortunately, the Gotham defense did well to keep someone in front of her, and her shot was blocked.

Two minutes later, Adriana attempted a cross into the box, but it was blocked by Mandy Freeman. The ball bounced back out to Abello, who shot from the top of the box. But she didn’t get much on it and Smith was able to make the easy stop.

In the 31st minute, McCutcheon played the ball forward for Adriana, who was making a run into the box. Adriana’s first touch was a low cross for Bright, at the top of the six. The rookie striker got her foot to the ball, but it went off the post and out of play. Despite the close attempt, it wouldn’t have counted as the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside.

Gotham finally got another chance in the 33rd minute when Onumonu dribbled down the right and into the Pride box. She was well defended by Strom, who drove her towards the end line. The forward ended up taking a shot from a tight angle, but it was right to Collins.

The last chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute when Abello took a long-distance shot. It wasn’t very hard and caused no trouble for Smith, sending the game into halftime scoreless.

Despite Gotham kicking off, the Pride got off to the better second-half start. Less than a minute into the second period of play, Tymrak played Marta forward. She attempted a shot from the left of goal, but it was right to Smith, who made the stop.

Gotham nearly opened the scoring in the 50th minute when a clearance landed at the feet of Kelley O’Hara well outside of the Pride box. The left back sent in a cross that appeared to be heading just inside the back post. It forced Collins into a dive to tip it wide of the goal.

The visitors had another chance in the 54th minute when a poor touch by Madril gave Yazmeen Ryan the ball near the top of the box. Kristie Mewis ended up with it and shot, but it was well high of the target.

In the 61st minute, Hines made his first change of the game. Still coming back from her ACL tear last season and a hamstring injury that kept her out of the 2-1 loss to Angel City, Marta was replaced by Viviana Villacorta. The appearance was Villacorta’s first since she left the Aug. 26, 2022 game against OL Reign in the same stadium.

“We knew that Marta was restricted, missing last week and still coming back from an ACL,” Hines said about the substitution. “So that substitution was always going to happen.”

Gotham had a pair of great chances in the 65th minute when Collins lost the ball to Williams, who took it right off her foot. She found Sinead Farrelly, but her shot was blocked by Cosme. The deflection fell to Ryan, who took a shot of her own, but McCutcheon was there to keep it from going in.

In the 74th minute, Madril played a nice ball out of the back for McCutcheon. The right back dribbled into the Gotham box and had enough space for a shot, but from a tight angle. As a result, the ball hit the side netting.

Three minutes later, Tymrak took the ball to the end line and played it back for Adriana. The Brazilian’s first touch got away from her, but it went right to Abello a few yards behind. The midfielder took a shot, but hit it over the crossbar.

As time wound down, Gotham began to keep more possession as the visitors searched for a late winner. Purce didn’t start the game, but came on in the 69th minute for Onumonu. In the 80th minute, the second-half substitute took her first shot of the game from outside of the box. It was on target, but Collins did well to get a hand to it, tipping it over the crossbar.

The visitors continued their attack and had another chance in the 83rd minute when Mewis and Williams both flicked the ball forward. But Collins did well to come off her line and gather it before any Gotham players could get a shot off.

After nearly getting the game’s first goal, Purce almost set up the opener in the 87th minute. Her cross nearly connected with the head of Mewis right in front of goal, but was inches high, and went out for a Pride goal kick.

Just before the game went into injury time, Hines made three more changes as the Pride looked to see out their first point of the season. Megan Montefusco, Jordyn Listro, and Summer Yates entered the game for Cluff, Tymrak, and Listro.

While the substitutes made their way onto the field, the fourth official held up nine minutes of added time. That was a major factor in the game’s final result.

Shortly into injury time, Williams dribbled into the box and attempted a cross, but it was deflected out by Montefusco. The ensuing corner kick bounced around the Pride box before referee Elvis Osmanovic blew his whistle for a foul on Gotham. However, he was alerted by the video assistant referee of a possible handball.

After sitting around approximately four minutes waiting for a decision, Osmanovic jogged over to the sideline monitor to review the play. Eventually, he came back and pointed to the spot, indicating a handball offense on Cosme.

“I think all of us were pretty shocked. You know, we’re new to VAR. And while it’s great for some things, it’s not so great when you’re on the opposite end of it,” Cosme said about the Pride’s reaction to the penalty decision. “I think that our discussion was we’re going to be fine. It’s taking this long to come up with the decision, must not have been clear enough. And then when the referee made that decision, I think we all were just like all right, here we go again. So not much discussion. I think we were all pretty confident that it wasn’t going to be a PK but sometimes it doesn’t go your way.”

Mewis held the ball at first while Osmanovic attempted to get everyone in the right positions for the penalty. However, Purce stepped up when it was time to take the kick. The substitute sent her penalty past Collins and into the roof of the net, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

At 99:53, the goal was the latest goal in NWSL history, passing Angel City’s goal in the same stadium two weeks ago, which went in at 99:12. That gave the Pride the two latest goals conceded in league history. But they weren’t done.

The Pride had one chance to equalize as the game entered the 13th minute of second-half injury time. Looking to bounce back from her handball, Cosme sent a cross into the box that found the head of Montefusco. However, Smith was there to catch the header, maintaining Gotham’s 1-0 lead.

Following the save, Gotham gained possession and Williams continuously took the ball to the corner, shielding it from Pride defenders. But 17 minutes into second-half injury time, she went to goal instead. After receiving a pass from Purce, Williams dribbled into the Pride box and fired from the left of goal and towards the far corner. The ball curled around Collins’ outstretched arm and in, sealing the 2-0 win for Gotham.

At 106:44, Williams’ strike became the new latest goal in NWSL history. The Pride now have conceded the three latest goals in league history, all coming in their last two games.

Due to technical difficulties, there weren’t any stats prior to the 38th minute of the game and most of the domestic audience not at Exploria Stadium saw nothing of the match. However, after that point, Gotham recorded more possession (61.8%-38.2%), shots (15-6), shots on target (4-2), corners (8-2), and passing accuracy (66.5%-54.3%).

“We’re in it the whole way and then a call doesn’t go our way and it just changes the result,” Hines said after the game. “We have a lot of opportunities to score, we don’t take them, leaves Gothem a chance to win the game. So, you’ve got to take your opportunities when they present themselves. But yeah, same old feeling after the game, disappointed with the result. Effort was great, as always. The players are really putting the effort in. Just want the result to really feel like they’re rewarded for their efforts.”

“I think we are all super disappointed,” Cosme added. “I think that we know that we should have put that game away. We also know that we need to stay focused for 90-plus minutes. That’s what this game is about, especially with VAR, people go down. And right now we’re not doing that. And I think the team needs to figure it out. I think we will figure it out. We’re still hopeful. You know, we believe in one another, but we understand that we need to be better. This is just the beginning of the season. So I think that we’re all excited to keep growing but definitely super disappointed with tonight’s result.”

As the 2023 NWSL season continues, the Pride continue to find new ways to lose. After getting destroyed by the Portland Thorns in the season opener, they’ve now set two new records for conceding the latest game-winning goals and three new records for conceding the latest goal in league history.

The team won’t have much time to dwell on this loss as the Pride welcome the North Carolina Courage into Exploria Stadium on Wednesday night as they open the NWSL Challenge Cup.


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