Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride vs. NJ/NY Gotham FC: Final Score 0-0 as Pride Run League Unbeaten Streak to Three Games

Aside from not scoring a goal, it was a dominating performance by Orlando and the Pride’s third consecutive result in league play.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride outplayed NJ/NY Gotham FC on the road at Red Bull Arena but have only a point to show for it after a wasteful afternoon in front of goal allowed the hosts to salvage a point. Orlando (2-4-1, 7 points) dominated first-half play and played an even second half against Gotham FC (4-2-1, 13 points) but couldn’t put a ball in the net and have to settle for a road draw.

The Pride are 2-0-1 in their last three league contests, but will feel they dropped two points after a dominating road match in which they simply couldn’t make the most of their scoring chances.

“Disappointed that we haven’t come away with three points. I think all the players feel the same way,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said after the match. “It was a complete performance. We were very difficult to play against. Considering they’ve got some of the best players in the league, I thought the back line, our midfielders, forwards, they all worked extremely hard to get a clean sheet and I’m really happy with that.”

Hines ran out his recently successful lineup with Anna Moorhouse in goal behind a back line of Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Haley McCutcheon. Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff played central midfield behind an attacking line of Adriana, Erika Tymrak, and Marta, with rookie Messiah Bright up top.

The hosts began the game pressing hard up the pitch and trying to create turnovers in Orlando’s half. The Pride were able to settle in after a nervy start and bossed much of the first half, although the team couldn’t find a breakthrough.

After an early Orlando counter that somehow didn’t result in a free kick after Adriana was knocked down from behind, Gotham got the first quality look of the game. Taylor Smith roasted McCutcheon in a footrace, took the ball into the area and fired off the left post. The Pride were able to clear the rebound before it could create any further trouble.

The Pride then started to settle into the match. Bright got down the right side in the 14th minute and sent in a cross but it was straight at goalkeeper Abby Smith. Moments later, Orlando won a corner and Marta picked out an unmarked Strom who couldn’t get her header on frame, popping it over the crossbar in the 17th minute.

Two minutes later, Adriana got forward on the break and fired a shot but it was right at Smith. Bright headed wide off a Strom cross in the 23rd minute but the whistle went quickly so the play may have been offside. Two minutes after that, Cluff made a great steal in the attacking half and fired a shot from outside the box that may have been going just high but Smith’s fingertips made sure that ball stayed over the bar.

A promising attack in the 32nd minute fell apart when Bright collected a loose ball near the top of the box and tried to pass to Marta, who wasn’t expecting it.

Four minutes later, the Pride had a dangerous free kick from the left. Cluff called repeatedly for the ball as Marta and Adriana lined up behind the ball. Marta took the cross and did pick out Cluff but the midfielder couldn’t get her header anywhere close to the goal frame.

The Pride broke in transition in the 41st minute and should have scored. Adriana had a decent look at goal and took the shot herself, but Smith went up and caught it. Bright was off to the right side and would have had an easy tap-in had the Brazilian crossed on that attacking move.

Smith made a good diving save to deny Cluff in the 44th minute. In stoppage time, Tymrak nearly got a gift when Smith spilled a good cross from McCutcheon out in front. Tymrak dug the ball out as Smith never fully possessed the ball but the referee blew the whistle in Gotham’s favor.

Orlando’s dominant half showed on the stats sheet. The Pride had more shots (9-1), shots on goal (5-0), and passing accuracy (75%-73.6%). Both teams earned two corner kicks and Gotham held a possession advantage (55.1%-44.9%).

After holding the hosts to one shot attempt in the first half, the Pride gifted one to Gotham early in the second half. Strom made a poor pass near the corner of her own penalty area that Lynn Williams stepped onto and then blasted a shot toward goal. Fortunately, the shot was off target.

The second half was a lot more choppy, with more stops and starts. Gotham had the first opportunity of the second period when Strom made a poor pass deep in her own end and gave Lynn Williams the ball near the left corner of the box. Williams smashed a shot but it was high and wide of the goal in the 50th minute.

The Pride had a chance five minutes later when Marta popped a ball over the top and into the box for Bright. The rookie stumbled and never got to fire a shot at the target.

Madril snuffed out a Gotham attack in the 66th minute beating Sinead Farrelly to a ball and then absorbing a terrible challenge that got Farrelly booked.

Adriana nearly picked out Marta in the 68th minute but a tug from the defender slowed her down and she couldn’t get to it. Marta got under a bouncing ball at the top of the area in the 78th and skied her shot well over the crossbar.

As the game wound down, Gotham looked like the fresher side, getting more of the ball and generating some chances. Williams swept a shot wide in the 82nd minute. Two minutes later, Moorhouse made a spectacular save with her leg to deny Yazmeen Ryan on what turned out to be Gotham’s only shot attempt on target all game.

“To get the first shot on target where Anna has to make a save in the (84th) minute is a pretty big positive, considering how far we’ve come from the start of the year,” Hines said. ” And it’s not just Anna making the save. It’s everyone who’s in front of her having that desire, that attitude to not allow shots on target.”

“The back line’s job is to keep the goals out of our net, and I think that’s what we did,” Madril said. “We did our job and you know, just try to carry that forward to the rest of the team and it does feel good to get a clean sheet, for sure.”

The game got a little stretched in the final minutes, which favored Gotham, but the Pride had their chances. Adriana lost the ball trying to dig it out of her feet on the attack in the 86th minute. Marta picked it up wide and crossed in but her pass was right at Smith, who made the easy catch. Seconds later, Ryan fired over the bar at the other end of the pitch.

The last good look of the game for either side came in the second minute of stoppage time. Strom sent a good cross into the area for substitute Ally Watt, who got her head to it. The ball was on frame but Smith made a diving, one-handed save to keep it out.

“We created a lot of opportunities, as well, it just didn’t fall our way,” Hines said.

Orlando’s dominance in the game was reflected in the statistics of the match, with the Pride finishing with more shots (13-6), shots on target (6-1), corners (4-3), and crosses (17-7). Gotham held more possession (56%-44%) and passed slightly more accurately (73.4%-71.5%).

“It was a good performance, defensively,” Tymrak said. “We were solid. They didn’t play through the middle much, and we really limited their forwards, who are some of the best in the league.”

Today’s game may have been Orlando’s most complete of the season despite the lack of goals, but it’s a good sign that Hines and his players were disappointed to get this road point when they felt the pride deserved all three.

“I think any professional — you never settle on what you have right now. You’re always searching for more,” Hines said. “You always want more and you know, looking back at the start of the year, we lost a lot of points, and now we have to get them back.”

The Pride will be back in action Saturday night, when they host the Washington Spirit at 7 p.m. at Exploria Stadium.


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