Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (2-4-0, 6 points) attempt to build on their two-game winning streak as they face NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-2-0, 12 points) at Red Bull Arena (5:30 p.m., Paramount+). This is the second and final time the two teams will play during the 2023 NWSL regular season. However, they’ll also play a pair of games in the Challenge Cup this year.
Here’s everything you need to know about today’s game.
The Pride have faced Gotham FC 20 times since joining the NWSL in 2016. They’re 7-8-5 in all competitions and 4-2-3 away from home. In league games, the Pride are 7-6-4 in 17 games against Gotham and 4-2-2 up north.
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 for the latest goal in NWSL history as the Pride fell 2-0. The Professional Referees 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 started this season with four consecutive losses, placing them at the bottom of the NWSL standings. But then the season started to change. The turnaround started in San Diego against a weakened Wave team .The hosts took the lead through Jaedyn Shaw in the 12th minute, before Mikayla Cluff equalized in the 26th minute and Haley McCutcheon gave the Pride the lead just before halftime. Adriana’s second-half goal saw the Pride claim their first win of the season.
They returned home last weekend to face Racing Louisville, which was missing a few key players of its own. Messiah Bright’s 21st-minute goal was the difference in that one as the Pride got their second win of the year.
The Pride did play a midweek Challenge Cup game against the Washington Spirit, losing 4-2, but Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made 11 changes to the starting lineup and only two regular starters came off the bench late. Hines said after the game that he saw the cup game as an opportunity to give minutes to players who weren’t receiving playing time in regular-season contests.
Now back in regular-season play, the Pride will display the lineup that has won two consecutive games. Their opponent will be a Gotham FC side that sits in fourth after a strong start to the 2023 season. They’re led by U.S. internationals Williams, who has four goals, and Purce, who has a pair. Purce has supplemented her four goals with two assists. However, Gotham will be without its biggest attacking threat in this game.
Despite using several different defensive units this season, the Gotham back line has been strong in front of starting goalkeeper Abby Smith. The New Jersey-based side has two clean sheets and have conceded one goal twice. They’ve yet to give up more than two goals in a game, which they’ve done twice this year.
“I think (Gotham) are on a good run. There wasn’t a lot between the two teams when we played them at home. We know that they’ve got threatening players, we know that Lynn Williams is on a good run of form, and we have to be mindful of her,” Hines said about today’s opponent. “But at the end of the day, it’s about us and we’ve won our last two league games. We kept a clean sheet in the last game and we’re going to need that again. We’re going to need to stop their threatening players in the attack. We’re going to have to be threatening in the attacking third as well and score goals. Every game is a difficult game. It’s a challenge for all of us but we’re looking forward to it. We feel that we can go there and win a game of football.”
The Pride have gotten healthier the last couple of weeks and only have Carrie Lawrence (knee) and Julie Doyle (ankle) out, with nobody listed as questionable. Meanwhile, Gotham will be without Michelle Betos (hand), Imani Dorsey (excused absence), Jenna Nighswonger (knee), Purce (hip), and Taryn Torres (knee).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.
Defenders: Kylie Strom, Megan Montefusco, Emily Madril, Haley McCutcheon.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Viviana Villacorta.
Midfielders: Adriana, Marta, Erika Tymrak.
Forwards: Messiah Bright.
Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Summer Yates, Jordyn Listro, Tori Hansen, Brianna Martinez, Amanda Allen, Ally Watt, Kerry Abello.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Abby Smith.
Defenders: Kelley O’Hara, Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger, Bruninha.
Midfielders: Kristie Mewis, Allie Long, Sinead Farrelly.
Forwards: Taylor Smith, Lynn Williams, Yazmeen Ryan.
Bench: McCall Zerboni, Nahomi Kawasumi, Nealy Martin, Svava Ros Gudmundsdottir, Delanie Sheehan, Ellie Jean, Mandy Freeman, Mandy Haught, Ify Onumonu.
REF: Anya Voigt.
AR1: Ben Rigel.
AR2: Zach McWhorter.
4TH: Kenneth Rojas.
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
AVAR: Christopher Spivey.
How to Watch
Match Time: 5:30 p.m.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: Fox 35 Plus.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Enjoy the game. Go Pride!