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Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Final Score 3-0 as Pride Dominate the Spirit On the Road

The Orlando Pride went on the road and took all three points against the Washington Spirit thanks to a brace from Julie Doyle.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride (5-8-1, 16 points) returned to their winning ways by going on the road and winning 3-0 against the Washington Spirit (6-3-5, 23 points) at Audi Field. Julie Doyle bagged the first brace of her young career by scoring twice early on. An own goal caused by a cross from Ally Watt in the second half gave the Pride their third goal and the defense held on for its third shutout of the year.

The Pride have now swept the Spirit in regular season play — an impressive feat as the Spirit have spent most of the season near the top of the table.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made a few changes to the starting lineup he used in the 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Current last weekend. Marta and Adriana are with Brazil in preparation for the Women’s World Cup this month and were replaced in the attack by Messiah Bright and Doyle. Erika Tymrak also started, with Jordyn Listro back on the bench.

The Pride played in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Anna Moorhouse in goal behind a back line of Kylie Strom, Emily Madril, Megan Montefusco, and Haley McCutcheon. Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff served as the team’s defensive midfielders, with Doyle, Tymrak, and Kelly Abello creating chances for Bright up top. This was McCutcheon’s 100th regular-season appearance in the NWSL, and she served as the team’s captain.

A lengthy weather delay before kickoff didn’t stop the Pride from starting the game with plenty of energy. They found success early on, especially when attacking through the left wing. It only took eight minutes for the Pride to take the lead. After earning a throw-in, Bright did well to hold off her defender and get the ball to Strom, who made a nice cross that bounced in front of goal and found McCutcheon’s head right in front of goal. Spirit goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart came up with a save, but the Spirit couldn’t cleanly clear away the danger. The ball fell to Doyle in the box and she buried it on the half-volley for her first goal of this season.

“The way that we started the game was brilliant,” Hines said regarding the team’s hot start despite the weather delay. “Going after them full of energy and creating momentum, and actually scoring with that momentum that we haven’t seen in the past couple of games, that was a real focal point for us.”

The Pride nearly doubled their lead in the 13th minute when Bright got a powerful header on the end of a corner kick from Abello. The striker’s shot ended up in the back of the net, but the referee blew the whistle for interference that prevented Barnhart from making a play on the cross.

But it didn’t take long for the Pride to find that second goal, as Doyle continued to find room to work her magic on the left. After a nice move to get some separation from her defender, she whipped in a nice cross. Although Cluff wasn’t able to get her head to it in front of goal, her run was enough to force Barnhart into anticipating a shot and the ball curled into the inside netting. Tymrak was credited with the assist, her 20th in her professional career.

“What you saw today is her with a real intent to go after defenders,” Hines said about Doyle’s performance. “Be threatening in the attack and transition, be decisive with her decisions, driving at defenders, getting shots off, being clinical. That’s what we want from all the forwards. You’ve got an opportunity, you must take it, and she took it tonight.”

Doyle missed a majority of the season due to injury and has been easing her way back into action.

“It felt so good,” she said about her first brace. “We needed that. I needed that. There’s been a lot of pressure on getting an end product and so, to finally get three goals, to get a shutout, you definitely saw a team performance tonight and I’m so proud of everyone.

“It doesn’t stop after one goal. I made a small goal tonight to at least get two. Losing Marta and Adriana is a huge loss for us, so I think everyone realized that and knew that we all had to step it up and I think that’s what we did tonight.”

In need of goals themselves, the Spirit went on the attack. With many of their attacking players away with the United States, the Spirit relied on getting long balls over Orlando’s back line to reach Ashley Hatch. The American forward had a good opportunity in the 21st minute by driving in a low cross to Lena Silano, but Silano couldn’t get a piece of it.

Although the Spirit were starting to more effectively impose themselves on the match, the Pride still found chances to extend their lead. In the 29th minute, pressure from Bright in the box caused a poor clearance from Tara McKeown and Abello was there to intercept it in the box. The midfielder put her first shot of the match on frame and Barnhart had to tip it over the bar for a corner kick.

The Spirit’s first shot of the match didn’t come until the 32nd minute. Hatch laid the ball off for Ines Juarena to have a go from distance, and the French midfielder’s shot skipped wide of goal.

Abello had another chance in the 34th after Bright used some skill and speed to get downfield and find her at the top of the box. This time, Abello’s shot wasn’t on target and went well over the crossbar.

The Pride didn’t slow down their push to score and Doyle had a chance for a hat trick in the 40th minute by driving a headed shot towards goal that went inches wide of the post.

Both teams had chances after the referee indicated there would be three minutes of stoppage time before halftime. Hatch continued to facilitate things for the Spirit and played a nice ball in for Nicole Douglas on the right side, but the cross harmlessly went out for a goal kick.

A minute later and the Pride were on the attack once again. Doyle blocked a clearance, chased down the ball before it could go out of play, and then raced down the wing. Bright made a good decision to find a pocket of space away from the mouth of goal instead of continuing her run, and Doyle found her wide open. Her shot was on target, but deflected out for a corner, which the Pride couldn’t capitalize on before the halftime whistle blew. Doyle and the rest of the Pride offense were electric throughout the first half, playing with the same energy no matter what the score was.

“The best defense is a good offense, so if we can keep the ball in our attacking half then we’ll make everyone’s life easier,” Doyle said following the match. “I think that we know that we can do that and if we’re going at them, why let off?” 

Although the Pride had less possession (45.5%-54.5), they bossed the Spirit for a majority of the first half. They finished the first half with nine shots, putting four of the on target, while none of the Spirit’s three shots were on target. The Pride had a clear advantage on the wings and funneled their attack out wide often, leading the Spirit in crosses (14-2) and taking more corners (5-1). Orlando also had better passing accuracy (76.4%-74.4%).

The Spirit made a pair of changes at halftime, bringing in attackers Chloe Ricketts and Civana Kuhlmann for Douglas and Amber Brooks. Ricketts made her presence felt quickly, surging down the wing until taken down by a challenge from Abello that earned her the first yellow card of the match.

Madril misplayed a pass back to Moorhouse that had nowhere near enough power behind it, giving Hatch a golden opportunity in the 57th minute. Montefusco’s rush to close down on Hatch didn’t stop the Spirit forward from easing around her slide tackle, but it gave Madril enough time to recover and Hatch’s shot was sent sailing into the stands.

Doyle came off for Ally Watt before the ensuing goal kick took place and it didn’t take long for the substitute to make an impact. Abello found Watt in space and the forward used her speed to get down the wing and serve up a low cross that deflected off of McKeown and into her own net. It’ll ultimately go down as an own goal, but Watt did well to put the ball in a dangerous area.

“There were a couple times where we were pinned back,” Hines said, “but there was a lot of good concentration and focus on the task. A two-goal lead is always difficult, that next goal is the most important. I’m glad in the second hald we got that next goal and from there we seemed pretty focused and comfortable.”

The Pride made their second change in the 64th minute, with Celia replacing Bright as the Pride aimed to close the game out. Bright performed well in this match, particularly when holding up play for other players to get involved in the attack.

A long ball from McKeown found Hatch in the Pride’s half and Hatch beat Montefusco to go on the attack. Although the Pride had players behind the ball, Montefusco brought Hatch down and received a yellow card. It was a strange foul to commit considering Hatch was alone with Pride players ready to defend. The Pride didn’t pay the price for it though as they were able to handle the ensuing free kick.

The Spirit had another dangerous free kick in the 70th minute after a flurry of attacks and they created yet another opportunity for Hatch. Sam Staab curled in a venomous cross and a diving header from Hatch certainly had enough power behind it, but it went wide of goal.

The Pride then had a chance of their own from a set piece of their own soon after. A long ball into the box from Montefusco in the center circle found Watt, who headed it down for Cluff right in front of goal. Cuff took her shot quickly, but Staab did well to deflect it. The rebound went to Watt, who sent her shot over the goal.

Madril then got some redemption for her miscue earlier by putting herself between a long ball over the top and Hatch. The defender showed plenty of strength to hold off the veteran attacker, who received a yellow card for bringing Madril down.

The Pride refused to stay on the back foot against the Spirit. Watt and Cluff continued to attack out wide, but Barnhart and the rest of the Spirit defense prevented them from widening the lead any further. A cross from Cluff was snuffed out by Barnhart and a nice cutback pass from Watt didn’t wind up with a shot taken.

Moorhouse started to get more involved in things as the Spirit got more desperate to score. Hatch slipped a through ball to Camryn Biegalski, but Moorhouse closed down the angle and Biegalski dribbled it out of play trying to work around the goalkeeper. Moorhouse then came up with a save against Kuhlmann in the 82nd minute, jumping to parry the ball over the crossbar and out for a corner. The goalkeeper punched away the first corner for another, which ended up as a goal kick after a missed shot.

The Pride had a few more chances to truly put the game to rest. Watt had a decent opportunity in space, but sent her shot well off target from a tough angle. Abello was a bit closer with her shot from a free kick a minute later, not missing the top right corner of the goal by much.

Hines made his final changes in stoppage time, with Amanda Allen and Brianna Martinez coming on for Tymrak and Abello.

Moorhouse secured her clean sheet with a save against Hatch and the Pride were able to hold on for the 3-0 victory.

At full time, the Pride had less possession (44%-56%) but did much more with the ball. They finished the game with more shots (12-9), putting four of them on target while the Spirit put just two on frame. The Spirit created more chances in the second half than the first, but the Pride still had more crosses (27-9) and both teams had five corner kicks. The Spirit also had better passing accuracy (81.7%-79.9%), but the Pride dominated in the one stat that matters most in the 3-0 win.

“Seb [Hines] said from the beginning that he was just going to expect more out of us, ” Cluff said after the win. “We know what we’re capable of. We’ve shown it in spurts throughout the season and we can play such quality soccer and beat the best of the best. But it just kind of comes down to our determination and our desire when we step on the field every single game, no matter who we’re playing. So that was kind of the message going into this game and I think that we obviously accomplished that tonight.

This was just the Pride’s second win away from Exploria Stadium this season and snapped a two-game losing skid after defeats to the North Carolina Courage and Kansas City Current. Hines spoke on how the Pride took all three points on the road against one of the league’s best teams.

“[Tonight} was more about ourselves. We needed to have a reaction after the last two defeats. Recently, we haven’t been ourselves and going to an environment like Washington, it’s difficult, of course. But, we wanted to come here with loads of energy, loads of desire, commitment, and put a real good performance together for our fans, because they deserve it. The players know it, as well, we haven’t been ourselves. Go back to our identity and when we show what we’re capable of doing, that’s where you get your success. So I was really pleased with, the not just the goals, but their overall performance and their attitude leading into this game.”


The Pride will turn their attention to Friday’s match against OL Reign at Exploria Stadium before the break in regular-season action for the World Cup. Following that match, the Pride will play four consecutive NWSL Challenge Cup matches from July 23 to Aug. 9.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

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Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

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