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Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 4-2 as Pride Lose in Challenge Cup

The Pride couldn’t hold onto their early lead, falling 4-2 to the Washington Spirit in the Challenge Cup.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) continued their 2023 NWSL Challenge Cup campaign with a 4-2 road loss to the Washington Spirit (1-1-0, 3 points). The Pride took an early lead with Tori Hansen’s first professional goal, but the Spirit ended the first half with three unanswered strikes by Lena Silano, Sam Staab, and Marissa Sheva.  The Pride got one back right after the break through Ally Watt, but Ashley Sanchez put it away in second-half injury time.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines used a heavily rotated lineup for this game, replacing every position from the team’s 1-0 win over Racing Louisville FC Saturday night. Kaylie Collins got the start in goal in front of a back line of Brianna Martinez, Caitlin Cosme, Hansen, and Celia. Thais Reiss and Jordyn Listro were the defensive midfielders behind Haley Bugeja, Kerry Abello, and Amanda Allen, with Watt up top.

Seven of the 11 starters for the Pride had made fewer than two appearances this season. Cosme’s four starts this season were the most, but she’s fallen out of favor recently and been replaced by Megan Montefusco in regular season games. The only three players with more than one start in the starting lineup were Cosme, Abello, and Watt, with the latter two starting three games each this season.

“The only way you’re going to be able to manage games is by playing games,” Hines said about his youthful lineup. “And we saw this as an opportunity to play a lot of the players who haven’t been playing minutes in the season.”

The Pride had the first chance of the game when Celia’s cross attempt was blocked out by Maddie Elwell for a corner. After Camryn Biegalski knocked the first corner out of play, the second ended up with Listro, who found Cosme behind the Spirit defense. Unfortunately, the center back’s shot was just wide of the far post.

The Pride won their third corner of the game when Allen’s shot was blocked out of play by Staab. The corner kick by Thais Reiss went into the six-yard box and bounced around until Hansen back-heeled it past Aubrey Kingsbury for her first professional goal.

“Thais played a great ball in and, honestly, I thought I was going to head it in,” Hansen said about her goal. “And then I think I headed it and there was a big jumble. And then the ball was at my feet and I just tapped it with my back heel and it went. So, very happy about that. I’m more of a header scorer, so it’s nice to get one with my feet and a back heel is even better.”

The first chance for the hosts came in the 13th minute when Maddie Elwell sent a cross into the Pride box. Civana Kuhlmann came flying through the air to get her head on the ball, but sent it just over the crossbar.

The Spirit had an even better chance to equalize in the 24th minute when a cross into the Pride box was flicked on by Staab and found the foot of Amber Brooks at the far post. The defender was behind the Pride back line and should’ve gotten her shot on target, but tipped it wide.

The hosts dominated possession in the first half and found their equalizer in the 33rd minute. It started when Abello fouled Chloe Ricketts, giving the Spirit a free kick. The initial ball was cleared and Sheva’s attempt was blocked. It went right to Silano, whose low shot went between the legs of Cosme and past the diving Collins to even the game at 1-1.

Washington felt it should’ve had a penalty in the 36th minute when Kuhlmann got goalside on Martinez. The defender leaned into the forward and both went to the ground. The Spirit players and fans were audibly upset as referee Joshua Encarnacion waved play on.

Washington didn’t dwell on the call, scoring a second goal two minutes later. Martinez fouled Paige Metayer, giving the hosts another set piece. Staab stepped up to take the kick and curled it into the box. It went around the two-player wall and over the arm of Collins to give the Spirit a 2-1 lead.

It was a great goal that gave Collins little chance and Sheva topped that strike just five minutes later. The Pride’s inability to clear again gave the midfielder a look at goal from long distance. Surprisingly, Sheva’s second touch was a shot. It got over the diving Collins and grazed the bottom of the crossbar to give Washington a 3-1 lead just before halftime.

“I think we just started having to defend more. And kudos to the Spirit, they had some really, really great finishes,” Hansen said about conceding the long-range goals. “But we can’t let off the brake and we have to keep going once we do score that goal, because we’re in the driver’s seat when we’re up 1-0, and we let them back into the game. And we’ve got to learn from that.”

“They were some worldies,” Abello said about the three first-half goals from outside of the box. “Sometimes you’ve got to hold your hands up and say dang, that was a really good goal. But I still think that means we need to get some better pressure on them outside of the box.”

It should’ve been 4-1 just two minutes later when Kuhlmann dribbled into the Pride box and played it back for Sheva. Collins came off her line towards Kuhlmann, who drew two defenders, leaving Sheva open with an empty goal in front of her. Fortunately, she hit it wide of the target.

The Pride were fortunate to have the early lead, but the stats were a reflection of how the 45 minutes actually went. The Spirit had more possession (58.5%-41.5%), shots (10-4), shots on target (3-2), crosses (12-8), and passing accuracy (81.4%-71.9%). The Pride had more corners (4-1), with one resulting in their only first-half goal.

“Just to be a little bit more aggressive with our press,” Hines said about his halftime message. “I think there was moments where we allowed Washington to dictate the play. And that’s okay in certain moments, certain areas, but now we’re down 3-1. We have to start putting pressure on them. Start creating turnovers and being threatening in the attack.”

The Pride made one halftime change, bringing Summer Yates on for Bugeja and the rookie made an immediate impact. In the 49th minute, the midfielder won the ball from Kuhlmann from behind and sent a long pass forward for Watt behind the Spirit back line. Watt handled the ball well and played it past Kingsbury to get the Pride back within a goal.

“We came out on fire,” Hansen said about the early second-half goal. “Obviously, being down 3-1 at halftime is not something you want to go into halftime doing, but we believed in each other and we came out. Summer Yates, great player, played an amazing ball to Ally. It was a great finish and it kind of shifted the momentum towards us.”

It looked like the Spirit might get that goal back in the 53rd minute when a Biegalski shot was tipped by Collins. It went right to Silano to the right of goal, but the flag went up for offside.

Aiding the Pride in staying in the game was a halftime substitution by the Spirit. Staab’s set pieces caused problems for the Pride defense in the first half, but she was replaced by Tara McKeown at halftime. The Pride continued to give up free kicks, but they were falling into the arms of Collins.

As the game crossed the hour mark, both teams made changes. The Spirit went to their all-time leading goal scorer Ashley Hatch, who replaced Kuhlmann. Meanwhile, Hines made his second and third changes of the game. In the 61st minute, Maliah Morris made her second professional appearance, coming on for Allen. For more experience, Erika Tymrak came on in the 66th minute for Reiss.

The Spirit had their second decent chance of the half in the 71st minute when Silano played the ball back for Sanchez, who had just come on for Nicole Douglas. The Washington star tapped the ball to her right and shot towards goal, but the shot was blocked.

Looking for an equalizing goal, Hines made his final substitution in the 76th minute an attacking one, bringing on Messiah Bright for Celia.

The Pride almost had a chance in the 82nd minute when a long ball was sent into the box for Bright. But Kingsbury did well to come out strong and snatch it out of the air. A minute later, Bright attempted to send Watt behind the Spirit defense. Watt was unable to keep control, but was deemed offside anyway.

Four minutes into second-half injury time, the Spirit put the game away. Collins came way out of her box to the right of goal to clear the ball away, but she sent it directly to Sanchez. The Spirit star quickly played the ball towards the far post of the empty goal. Collins spirited back to her net and might’ve gotten a touch to it, but the U.S. international extended the score to 4-2, putting the game away.

It was a deserved result based on the performances of both teams. Washington had more possession (58.8%-41.2%), shots (18-7), shots on target (4-3), crosses (27-13), and passing accuracy (74.5%-61.5%). The Pride had more corners (6-5), but not enough possession or chances to get a result.

“Disappointed,” Hines said after the game. “You know, you never want to lose the game by (allowing) four goals. It’s a hard one because we took the lead, Tori scored a terrific goal, and you go 1-0 up early on in the game and you’re looking for the team to manage it from that moment and I don’t think we did. I don’t think we managed the game too well. I think we showed a little bit of naivety within the team, and we allowed them to get back into it. The goals were disappointing. And I don’t know how many goals they’ll score like that in the season, let alone in one game. But we have to learn from it. We had a really young team, a team that hadn’t played together. And again, we use every game as a learning moment for us.”

“I’m proud of the team,” Abello added. “We got ahead. We started off strong and they scored some pretty great goals against us. And some of those we can’t do anything about. But I was proud of the way we came out in the second half. It was a winnable game, so it’s frustrating that we didn’t come away with the win or even an equalizer. But at the end of the day, I think we learned a lot and I think that’s the exciting thing about Challenge Cup games is we have so many young players on the field that got a chance to play a full 90 or close to a full 90 and that will only help us going forward.”

The fact that the Pride lost this game wasn’t a surprise after making 11 changes to the starting lineup. However, a familiar situation popped up again at the end of the game. While the team was without its starting goalkeeper and both starting center backs, Sanchez’s last-minute goal was the fifth the team has given up in second-half stoppage time. Even if this one was a different situation because they were chasing the game.

With their midweek Challenge Cup game behind them, the Pride will look to build on the two-game league winning streak when they travel to New Jersey to face NJ/NY Gotham FC Sunday evening.

Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Anna Moorhouse

The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s first as the Orlando Pride’s starting goalkeeper.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s second with the Orlando Pride and her first as the team’s starting goalkeeper. She was originally signed prior to the 2022 season, backing up veteran Erin McLeod that year. However, the Canadian international left the team, resulting in Moorhouse taking over the starting role.

Let’s take a look at Moorhouse’s first season starting for the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Moorhouse started 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games, playing 1,623 minutes. The team’s record in those games was 9-9-1, as she conceded 22 goals, saving 72 of her 94 shots faced (76.6%). She ended the year with seven clean sheets, 19 catches, six punches, and four drops. The Pride’s number one completed 387 of her 573 passes (67.5%) out of the back and 115 of her 292 long balls. The passing accuracy in her own half was 79.1% and 32.4% in the opposing half. She conceded one foul and won two, getting sent off in the third minute of the team’s 1-0 loss to OL Reign on Sept. 3.

The English shot stopper also played in four Challenge Cup games, recording 360 minutes. She conceded 10 goals in the competition with no clean sheets and saved 13 of her 23 shots faced (56.5%). Moorhouse had three catches, one punch, and no drops in the secondary competition. She successfully completed 69 of her 111 passes (62.2%) and 29 of her 68 long passes (42.6%). Similar to the regular season, her pass completion percentage was far higher in her own half (76.4%) than in the opposing half (35.9%). Additionally, she won a foul and didn’t concede any.

Best Game

Moorhouse’s most active game was the season opener against the Portland Thorns, where she faced 27 shots and made 12 saves. However she conceded four goals and one was her fault. Her best game of the year came on Oct. 2 in Los Angeles and it was a critical one. Adriana scored in the 22nd minute against Angel City FC to give the Pride a 1-0 lead and the visitors held on for dear life to claim three points that put them in the running for a playoff spot.

One of Moorhouse’s seven clean sheets, the goalkeeper made seven saves on the night, her second-most of the season. Most of Angel City’s shots were right at the goalkeeper, but she was sure-handed, something that plagued her earlier in the year. In the 57th minute, Claire Emslie beat Haley McCutcheon to the ball inside the six-yard box, but Moorhouse was decisive in coming out, forcing the forward to send her shot into the side netting. Her biggest moment of the game came in the 86th minute, when substitute Sydney Leroux got her head on the ball and put it on target. Moorhouse tipped the attempt over the crossbar, maintaining the Pride’s narrow 1-0 lead.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Moorhouse a composite grade of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 NWSL season. Shot stopping was her strength, but she struggled at other aspects, especially holding onto the ball. On multiple occasions this season, her inability to hold onto a catch resulted in second chances and goals for the opposition. She struggled in the team’s penultimate game against Racing Louisville, effectively ending the Pride’s season, and her third-minute red card against OL Reign was likely a determining factor in a crucial 1-0 loss. However, she had seven clean sheets on the season and was the team’s best goalkeeper.

2024 Outlook

Moorhouse’s initial contract was a two-year deal, running through the 2023 season. While there were questions about her dependability in goal this season, Seb Hines and Haley Carter were pleased with her performances, awarding her with a new contract on Oct. 5, keeping the goalkeeper in purple through at least the 2025 season. The Pride now have four goalkeepers under contract for next year, and Moorhouse will be challenged for her role as the starter by new signing Sofia Manner.

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Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner

The Pride have added a fourth goalkeeper and the second one from abroad ahead of the 2024 NWSL season.



Image courtesy of the Orlando Pride and FC Honka

The Orlando Pride announced today the signing of goalkeeper Sofia Manner, who was acquired for an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. Manner has signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. The signing is a bit curious as it comes less than two months after the Pride extended English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse through the 2025 season, giving Orlando two international goalkeepers and four total netminders under contract.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to join Orlando Pride, a team I have admired since my youth,” Manner said in a club press release. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to contribute to such a renowned organization in women’s soccer. The prospect of starting this journey fills me with great enthusiasm, and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to the team. I’m ready to put in hard work and help write a new chapter for the Orlando Pride.” 

Manner, who turned 26 on Nov. 9, conceded the fewest goals in the Kansallinen Liiga this season and is a nominee for the league’s Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. She appeared in 23 matches and earned 10 clean sheets across all competitions, was twice named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Month this season, and was Player of the Month in April.

“Sofia is a tremendous addition to our goalkeeping corps and one we expect to challenge for the starting position,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. “She brings an underdog mentality and gritty work ethic and fits every aspect of the profile we have built for our goalkeepers. Her size, aerial ability, shot-stopping prowess, and distribution are world class. She brings international experience and has led the Kansallinen Liiga in nearly every goalkeeping metric. Her nominations for Goalkeeper of the Year and Best Player are indicative of her winning mentality and drive to be the best. We are excited to bring her to Orlando and to give her an opportunity to prove herself in our environment and in the NWSL.” 

The shot stopper has experience playing in the United States, having played collegiately with Stony Brook University. She compiled a 1.14 career goals-against average across three seasons, which is fourth-best in Seawolves’ history. Her 20 shutouts ranks third in program history, and she compiled a .796 save percentage, which is ninth best all time.

While at Stony Brook, Manner was named America East Freshman of the Year in 2017, was a first-team all-conference selection in 2019, and was the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She started in every match in her final two seasons at Stony Brook, backstopping the Seawolves to an America East conference championship in 2019 and a regular-season title in 2018.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride currently have four goalkeepers under contract: 2023 starter Anna Moorhouse (through 2025), backup Carly Nelson (through 2024), third keeper Kaylie Collins (through 2024), and now Manner (through 2025). Collins is on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League Women in Australia. Four goalkeepers will provide spirited competition in preseason camp, to be sure, but it’s likely that one of these players will be on the move at some point.

If Manner wins the starting goalkeeper spot from Moorhouse, it may be for reasons other than stopping shots. Moorhouse did a good enough job of that, but often struggled with balls in from the wings, which was illustrated in the Pride’s penultimate game of the year — a must-win match at Racing Louisville — when a routine-looking corner kick cross appeared to be easily catchable, but Moorhouse went for a punch instead and knocked the winning goal for Louisville into her own net. That dropped point in the standings put Orlando in jeopardy on Decision Day and indeed the Pride beat Houston but missed the postseason on goal differential. It was a crucial point dropped.

That wasn’t Moorhouse’s only major error on the season, as she set an NWSL record with the earliest sending off in league history with her third-minute red card at OL Reign on Sept. 3 — a match the Pride lost 1-0 while playing one player short for 87 minutes plus stoppage. She has also frequently spilled crosses and shots from distance.

Orlando needed to upgrade the position. Whether Manner is an upgrade remains to be seen, but as Carter said, she is expected to compete for the starting spot. If nothing else, the competition should be good for the Pride. If Manner does take the starting position, it seems logical that the club will look to move either Moorhouse or Nelson.

The goalkeeper position will provide one of the Pride’s most intriging camp battles.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Kylie Strom

The veteran defender was a consistent starter for the Pride in 2023.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride signed Kylie Strom from Atletico Madrid on July 5, 2021 to a two-year contract with an option for 2023. Previously, Strom spent time with the Boston Breakers, FFC Frankfurt II in Germany, and Sparta in the Czech Women’s League. The Pride exercised her option prior to the 2023 season. Strom played a much bigger role for the Pride in 2023. 

Let’s take a look at the defender’s 2023 season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Strom appeared in 22 regular-season matches, starting all 22, for a total of 1,967 minutes. She scored one goal on six shots, putting one on target. She provided one assist and made 17 key passes. Strom completed 590 of her 880 total passes (67%). She was accurate on 58.7% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and went 73.8% in her own half. She was 29 of 106 on her long passes (27.4%). She also completed seven of her 36 crosses. Defensively, she logged 34 interceptions and 10 blocks, won 43 of her 81 tackles (53.1%), won 181 of her 291 duels (62.2%), and won 39 of her 64 aerial duels (60.9%). She also committed 18 fouls, suffered 42 fouls, and was not booked.

The 31-year-old made four appearances in NWSL Challenge Cup play, starting four games and playing 314 total minutes. Strom did not score any goals but took two shots with one on target. She attempted three crosses (one successful), and registered no assists. Strom completed 93 of her 134 total passes (69.4%). She was accurate on 61.8% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 75.8% in her own half.  Strom was 11 of 19 on her long passes (57.9%), and made two key passes. Defensively, she made three blocks and eight interceptions, and won eight of her 10 tackles (80%), 29 of her 46 duels (63%), and eight of her 10 aerial duels (80%). She also committed five fouls, suffered five fouls, and was not booked.

Best Game

Strom’s best match was the 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit on May 20. She scored her only goal of the season on a header at the back post in the 77th minute to give the Pride the win. It was the type of goal that you want from defenders and it came at just the right time.

Strom played the full 90 minutes and she was active in both the defensive and offensive aspects of the match. She nearly put Messiah Bright in on goal but it was knocked out for a corner. Her goal came on three shots with one on target. She also completed 15 of her 30 passes (50%) on 52 touches, committed no fouls, suffered three fouls, and was not booked.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Strom a composite rating of 6 for the 2023 season. Strom received a grade of 4.5 in 2022 due to being a part of a defense that gave up 45 goals with a -23 goal differential. That is a big year-over-year improvement for the defender and part of that is the defense as a whole was better. Strom also did well individually though she had a bad habit of cheaply giving the ball away in her own half. She previously received an incomplete during what was a rough stretch run in 2021 after joining the club midseason.

2024 Outlook

Strom is out of contract and will be 32 years old prior to the 2024 season starting. She’s also a free agent. Despite that, it’s very possible she is back with the Pride next season unless additional defensive signings are made. It would mean a new contract, but given she started every regular season match in 2023 and finished second only to Emily Madril in minutes played, Seb Hines evidently has faith in her ability to contribute.

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