Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (3-4-1, 10 points) look to extend their unbeaten run to five games in a road match against the Chicago Red Stars (1-6-1, 4 points) in Bridgeview, IL. This is the first of two games the two teams will play this season, with the return game at Exploria Stadium taking place on Aug. 20.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Red Stars have played every season since the former’s entrance into the NWSL except 2020. The teams have played 15 games, with the Pride going 4-11-1. All four wins have come in Bridgeview, IL, with the Pride having a record of 4-4-0 when playing the Red Stars away from home.
The Pride and Red Stars last met on June 12, 2022 in Illinois. Mallory Swanson capitalized on a Pride turnover in the 10th minute and the Red Stars held on for the 1-0 win. On May 22 in Orlando, Sarah Griffin gave the visitors the lead, and Bianca St. Georges and Swanson made it 3-0 Chicago. It appeared as though the Red Stars would run away with the game, but the final 10 minutes saw three goals and two penalties for an exciting finish. Sydney Leroux missed a penalty, but Amy Turner scored the Pride’s first goal late. Pugh converted her penalty in the moments later, and Leah Pruitt scored her first goal for the Pride a minute after that in a 4-2 Red Stars win.
The teams met three times during the 2021 season, but didn’t play until Aug. 8 in Illinois. Jodie Taylor and Leroux scored for the Pride before the half. The 2-0 win ended a six-game winless streak and was the first NWSL win for interim head coach Becky Burleigh.
The second meeting was Oct. 13 in Bridgeview, a rescheduled game that was originally supposed to take place Oct. 2. Kealia Watt scored in the sixth minute, which the Red Stars defended for 84 minutes on their way to a 1-0 result. The teams met again Oct. 29 in Orlando in the final game of the regular season. The Red Stars controlled the game but the Pride held off the Chicago attack for 65 minutes, at which point Watt scored the lone goal in a 1-0 game.
The Pride and Red Stars didn’t play in the 2020 Fall Series, so the last meeting prior to 2021 came in 2019. The first game was June 30 at Exploria Stadium. Goals by Chioma Ubogagu and Marta were topped by a Sam Kerr hat trick as the Red Stars won 3-2. The second game was on Aug. 21 in Bridgeview. The Pride took a 2-0 lead with goals by Rachel Hill and Ubogagu. Tierna Davidson cut the lead in half for Chicago, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride won 2-1. The third meeting in 2021 came on Sept. 11 in Orlando. Casey Short stole the game for Chicago with the game’s lone goal five minutes into second-half injury time as the Red Stars won, 1-0.
The 2018 NWSL season saw the Pride and Red Stars meet three times. On May 2 in Bridgeview, Hill and Ubogagu scored in a 2-0 Pride win. They met in the same location May 26 in a high-scoring affair. A Leroux brace was added to goals by Hill, Alex Morgan, and Dani Weatherholt, as the Pride won 5-2. They met a third time in 2018 on Aug. 25 in Orlando. The Red Stars were led by a Kerr brace, resulting in a 3-1 victory over the Pride.
The Pride and Red Stars met three times in 2017 — the first year that they played that many games against each other. Christen Press scored the lone goal on July 1 in Orlando as Chicago won 1-0. On July 22 in Bridgeview, Press led her team with a brace in a 2-1 Chicago win. The final meeting came a week later in Orlando. Morgan put the Pride ahead, but Sofia Huerta equalized as the teams drew 1-1.
The two teams met for the first time during the Pride’s inaugural season in 2016 on May 1 in Bridgeview. Press’ second-half goal led the Red Stars to a 1-0 win. On July 16 in Orlando, Taylor Comeau scored the lone goal as Chicago again won 1-0.
The Pride have caught fire after a tough start to the 2023 season, going 3-0-1 in their last four games. The recent success is due in large part to Pride Head Coach Seb Hines finding a consistent starting lineup.
While the Pride lost their first four games, only in the first game were they thoroughly outplayed. And that was away to the defending champion Portland Thorns. The losses against Angel City FC and NJ/NY Gotham FC were because of second-half stoppage time goals, three times setting new records for the latest goals conceded in NWSL history.
They surprised everyone with their 3-1 win over the San Diego Wave in Southern California and followed that up with a 1-0 home win against Racing Louisville. After drawing Gotham in New Jersey, the Pride had arguably their most impressive result last weekend, beating the previously unbeaten Washington Spirit, 2-1.
The team has created chances most of the season, but their defense has been much better since finding a consistent unit. Anna Moorhouse has solidified her starting position in goal behind a back line of Haley McCutcheon, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Kylie Strom. A healthy Marta, more comfortable Adriana, and experience for Messiah Bright have made the attack much more dangerous as well.
Tonight, the Pride face the last-place Red Stars in a game that they should win. However, coming off a big win over the Spirit, it’s a potential trap game.
“Keep them hungry,” Hines said last week about avoiding a letdown tonight. “Anyone can beat anyone. We were bottom of the table and we go to San Diego and get the ball rolling. So we gotta keep on our toes.”
The Red Stars got off to a poor start, losing their first two games of the year. It got worse when their best attacking player, Swanson, suffered a season-ending injury on April 8 while representing the United States against Ireland in a friendly. They bounced back from that news with their lone win, beating the Kansas City Current 4-2, but have yet to claim another victory. Last weekend, they were pounded 4-0 by the Thorns in Portland, the same score the Pride lost to against the defending champions to start the season.
On paper, the Red Stars should have a strong defense. They feature U.S. international Alyssa Naeher and a back line consisting of Arin Wright, Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, and Tatumn Milazzo. However, they’ve conceded seven goals in their last two games against Louisville and Portland. They haven’t kept their opposition to under two goals since their 1-1 draw against the Spirit on April 29.
The offense has struggled mightily since the team’s four-goal output against the Current. The last goal came in the 54th minute against Gotham on May 7, so it’s been 216 minutes since the Red Stars last scored. It’s a good matchup for the Pride’s stingy defensive unit.
“You can’t look at the table and think a game’s easy,” Hines said about tonight’s game. “They’re a bit short on confidence, but anyone can beat anyone on their day. So we have to be mindful of that. They are still a good team. It just hasn’t gone that way right now. We’ve got momentum and we’ve got to continue that momentum. We have to do the basic right and ultimately, if we do that, we’ll win the game.”
The Pride have a couple of additions to their injury report this week as Jordyn Listro (thigh) and Kaylie Collins (hand) join Carrie Lawrence (knee) as players out injured. Additionally, Amanda Allen is still on international duty with Canada.
The Red Stars will be without Sami Feller (concussion), Sarah Griffith (ankle), Penelope Hocking (leg), Kayla Sharples (knee), and Swanson (knee).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Anna Moorhouse.
Defenders: Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, Haley McCutcheon.
Defensive Midfielders: Mikayla Cluff, Kerry Abello.
Midfielders: Adriana, Marta, Erika Tymrak.
Forwards: Messiah Bright.
Bench: Carly Nelson, Caitlin Cosme, Summer Yates, Celia, Tori Hansen, Viviana Villacorta, Brianna Martinez, Julie Doyle, Ally Watt.
Chicago Red Stars (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher.
Defenders: Arin Wright, Tierna Davidson, Casey Krueger, Tatumn Milazzo.
Defensive Midfielders: Yuki Nagasato, Julia Bianchi.
Midfielders: Sandra Starke, Cari Rocarro, Bianca St-Georges.
Forwards: Ava Cook.
Bench: Jill Aguilera, Jenna Bike, Emily Boyd, Samantha Fisher, Sophie Jones, Amanda Kowalski, Cheyna Matthews, Allison Schlegel, Ella Stevens.
REF: Rebecca Pagan.
AR1: Jeremy Smith.
AR2: Cameron Siler.
4TH: Melinda Sopka.
VAR: Shawn Tehini.
AVAR: Joel McKell.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m.
Venue: SeatGeek Stadium — Bridgeview, IL.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com (International).
Twitter: For live updates and rapid reaction, follow the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride). Due to simultaneous games, there won’t be live coverage by The Mane Land for this one but we will recap the match late Saturday night.
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!