The Orlando Pride are on a four-match unbeaten streak in NWSL regular-season play. I’m not including the heavily rotated and obviously not taken quite as seriously Challenge Cup match against the Washington Spirit. We should all temper our enthusiasm just a bit following this run of good form, as it’s the hope that kills you. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good things happening with this club. Let’s take a look at what is going right.
Marta scored her first goal since 2021 Saturday night in the Pride’s 2-1 win over the Washington Spirit. She also provided an assist with a perfectly placed corner kick to the back post and the head of Kylie Strom. It was exactly the type of performance the Pride needed from the legendary player.
Of course, It can take a long time to come back from such a devastating injury like a torn ACL. It can take longer for a player to find their form, especially if that player is on the older side for a professional soccer player. Hopefully, we’re seeing a renewed and rejuvenated Marta as the Pride move into the remainder of the season.
Marta isn’t the Pride’s only Brazilian superstar since signing Adriana in the off-season. Like Marta, Adriana has one goal and one assist so far this season. Of course, she’s played more matches, but it’s understandable that she has to settle into a new league, a new club, and a new city.
Despite having to make those adjustments, she has looked very dangerous. She is a player that the opposition must account for at all times. It was Adriana who drew the penalty against Washington that Marta subsequently scored on. She has 18 shots on the season, with 10 on target. Her willingness to take on defenders and take on a shot — whether inside or outside the box — will pay dividends. She is much too talented for some of those shots to not start making it into the back of the net.
The Pride rotated through multiple goalkeepers to start the season, with Anna Moorhouse, Kaylie Collins, and Carly Nelson all getting some starts. However, it now seems that Seb Hines has settled on Moorhouse, and frankly, it’s not hard to see why. Moorhouse has started six matches, has given up eight goals, but made 31 saves for a 1.33 goals-against average. If you take into account that four of the goals she allowed came in the 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns to start the season — and who hasn’t given up four goals to Portland? — her stats look even more impressive.
In Moorhouse’s last four starts, she has two clean sheets — one each against Racing Louisville and NJ/NY Gotham FC — and has given up only one goal each to the San Diego Wave and the Washington Spirit. That is impressive given the competition. It’s Moorhouse’s world, and we’re all just living in it.
Back Line Consistency
Keeper wasn’t the only position in flux early in the season. Seb Hines mixed and matched Emily Madril, Caitlin Cosme, and Megan Montefusco between the center backs and tried Madril at fullback while looking for the right combination. Consistency and time together are needed on a back line for it to be effective. Once Hines settled on Haley McCutcheon at right back, Madril and Montefusco at the center back positions, and Strom at left back, it all started to come together.
Madril was a guest on The Mane Land PawedCast, and she shared her thoughts on how the defense has started to gel. It has also helped Moorhouse over the last four NWSL matches, and should only get better as the season wears on.
Those are some of the factors that stood out to me regarding the Pride’s recent good run of form. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.