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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Final Score 2-1 as Ally Watt and Adriana Lead Pride to Vital Win

The Pride used two first-half goals to beat the North Carolina Courage, moving up to seventh in the NWSL.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride (8-10-1, 25 points) returned home in a must-win game and took care of business, beating the North Carolina Courage (8-7-4, 28 points) 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. Ally Watt scored the earliest goal in Pride history, giving the hosts the lead inside the first minute. Adriana doubled the advantage in the 32nd minute, which was all the Pride needed. Manaka Matsukubo got one back in the 52nd minute, but North Carolina couldn’t find an equalizer and the Pride took all three points.

Despite being on the road, the Courage dominated possession in this game. The Pride played like the typical visiting team, defending fiercely and hitting the opposition on the counter attack. It was successful, as they scored twice with that method and nearly had more. The task became easier when Malia Berkely was sent off in the 78th minute, enabling the Pride to control the dying minutes.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to OL Reign on Sept. 3 in Seattle. Carly Nelson started in goal for the suspended Anna Moorhouse, who was sent off in the third minute in the team’s most recent game. Watt entered the lineup in the striker’s role for Messiah Bright, and Adriana returned to the lineup after missing the trip out west, replacing Kerry Abello. Bright and Abello started this game on the bench.

The back line in front of Nelson was Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Madril, and Haley McCutcheon. Mikayla Cluff and Jordyn Listro were the starting defensive midfielders behind Julie Doyle, Marta, and Adriana. Watt was the lone forward up top.

Cluff and Viviana Villacorta started the season as the defensive midfield partnership. That changed to a Villacorta and Abello partnership with Cluff and Listro coming off the bench. However, Cluff and Listro have started the last two games, an interesting switch as the season nears its end.

“It’s tough decisions, right? There’s not a lot (of separation) between the four midfielders, between Jordyn, Kayla, and Vivi. They’ve all done really well this season,” Hines said about the change. “So it’s being adaptable, giving players opportunities. We felt like it was a good balance in the midfield with Kayla and Jordyn.”

The Pride got off to the best possible start in this game. Listro intercepted a Matsukubo pass at midfield and played Adriana forward. Watt ran around left back Emily Fox, reaching the ball at the top of the 18. Courage goalkeeper Casey Murphy came out and got a piece of the shot, but not enough as the ball rolled in to give the Pride an early lead.

“Ally took her goal really well,” Hines said about Watt’s strike. “Very pleased for Ally because she’s put so much work into her craft the last couple of weeks. And she gets a reward with a goal.”

“I think you just realize you have — we have — full trust and faith in them with anything,” Watt said about playing with Marta and Adriana. “Adriana is called the wizard for a reason. She gets balls off in the most magical way I’ve ever seen, honestly. So, I think we just have full trust in them. So when we make the run, we fully know that we’re going to get that ball if we execute properly. And when they’re on the ball, they might do some magic on their own, but they’re going to feed it to you as well. So, we always have to be prepared for whatever they’re going to be providing, because they’re very unpredictable players. And that’s what we love about them.”

The goal crossed the line 38 seconds after kickoff, making it the earliest goal in Pride history. It was only 16 seconds off of the league record of scoring 22 seconds into a game.

“We talk about starting the game quickly,” Hines said. “You know, the first pass, first dribble, setting the tone straight from kickoff. And it’s the best way to start a game, scoring a goal.”

The Courage had their first chance of the game in the eighth minute when Ryan Williams’ cross was headed out of play by McCutcheon. Haley Hopkins jumped over Doyle to reach Berkely’s corner kick at the back post, but sent it straight to Nelson.

In the 13th minute, Williams received the ball from Kerolin and dribbled into the Pride box. The right back cut inside and played a short pass where Kerolin had run past Rafaelle. The midfielder found forward Tess Boade wide open at the top of the six-yard box, but Boade couldn’t get over the shot and sent it over the target.

A Pride goal kick in the 16th minute ended up with Rafaelle, who attempted to play it short to Strom on the side. But Kerolin intercepted it. After quickly playing a pass to the middle for an open Boade, Rafaelle took down her international teammate, earning the game’s first booking.

The ensuing free kick by Narumi Miura was short to Kerolin and the Brazilian lifted the ball to the top of the six. Nelson came out strong, initially fumbling the ball after midair contact with an opposing attacker, but eventually collecting it. Kaleigh Kurtz charged into Nelson and both players went to the ground. Referee Danielle Chesky called a foul on Kurtz, ending the North Carolina threat.

The Pride had a chance to double their lead in the 24th minute when Watt found Adriana in the box from the left. Miura got in front of the shot, blocking it back to the midfielder. Adriana took a second shot, but Miura got in front of that one as well, enabling the Courage to clear.

The Pride scored their second goal right after the restart of the first-half hydration break. Nelson restarted with a goal kick to Strom, who sent the ball forward for Adriana. The attacker left it for Marta, whose back heel was blocked by Berkely, but it went right back to her. The second pass attempt by Marta was wide to Doyle, who sent Adriana behind the Courage back line with her first touch. As Miura attempted to catch up with the Brazilian, Murphy stayed on her goal line. Adriana put it into the corner of the net from the top of the six-yard box, giving the Pride a 2-0 lead.

“I saw Marta get it, and whenever Marta gets it on her left foot, that means I’ve got to run into the back space, because I know that she can find me through. And that’s what she did,” Doyle said about her assist. “And then I saw Adriana had a ton of space in behind, because they were really high. And Adriana’s so fast. I’m just like, all I have to do is get it to her and I know that she’ll do great things. And that’s what we saw.”

Poor passing in the 44th minute nearly gave the Pride a chance for a third when Murphy played a short ball to Berkely in the Courage box. The center back nonchalantly sent it back to her goalkeeper, wide of the target. Watt, one of the league’s fastest players, attempted to beat Murphy to the ball and got a piece as Murphy attempted to clear it. But the visitors were able to get it away without any damage.

At halftime, North Carolina had far more possession (69.4%-30.6%), but couldn’t do much with it. Meanwhile, the Pride were happy to hit them on the counter, resulting in a halftime lead. While both teams had four first-half shots, the Pride put two on target and the Courage put one on frame. North Carolina also led the Pride in corner kicks (1-0) and crosses (6-1), and passed more accurately (91.6%-74.2%).

“Going into the second half, we changed our formation a little bit when we had that water break, so we just went over it again. Because passing information is difficult in that kind of situation,” Watt said about the halftime message. “(Hines) was telling us that I’m going to put the pressure on you. You guys are 2-0 up, and that’s a dangerous lead to have. They can come in and score and get momentum, and they certainly did score, but we did a really good job hanging onto it. And then the red card happened and we were just able to take control of the game and everything.”

The Pride created a pair of chances within the first five minutes of the second half. In the 48th minute, a Kurtz pass across for Miura was intercepted by Watt. The forward sprinted towards the Courage box, pulling up when Berkely got in front of her. Adriana called for the ball, but Watt took the long-distance shot herself. It didn’t cause any trouble for Murphy at the near post, who easily collected it.

A minute later, the Pride went on another counterattack. Doyle turned her defender and played a give-and-go with Marta on the left. The midfielder sent a low cross into the box for Adriana, but it was too far in front of her and Fox cleared it away.

The two missed opportunities proved costly in the 52nd minute when North Carolina got a goal back. Hopkins played the ball wide for Fox and the defender sent a cross into the box. Hopkins had made a run, but let the ball run past her to Matsukubo waiting behind, unmarked. The 19-year-old didn’t miss her opportunity, putting it past Nelson to cut the Pride lead to 2-1.

Three minutes later, the Courage had a chance for an equalizer when Kerolin sent a cross toward Fox in the middle of the box. The left back redirected the ball towards goal, but couldn’t get over it and the attempt went over the crossbar.

Shortly after the miss, Hines made his first substitution of the night. Regular starting striker Bright entered the game for Watt. The Pride made two more changes in the 64th and 65th minutes, replacing Doyle and Cluff with Abello and Villacorta.

A controversial moment occurred in the 66th minute when Adriana dribbled into the North Carolina box. She cut inside to beat Kerolin, before Fox came back to win the ball. The ball popped up and appeared to hit Fox’s arm at the edge of the box, which was up to shield her face. The play is only reviewable for a penalty, but the video assistant referee didn’t call for Chesky to take a look.

“In the 66th minute, the referee observed the ball hit the NC Courage player’s hand, which was in a natural position,” Chesky responded after the game. “At the next stoppage, the VAR checked the incident and confirmed no clear or obvious error.”

The comeback got more difficult for the Courage in the 78th minute when Berkely was sent off. A short free kick to the center back resulted in a bad pass into the box. Madril got to it first, sending it downfield. Adriana was the first to the ball and used her speed to get behind Berkely. The center back, who was clearly the last defender, took down the midfielder and Chesky immediately issued a red card. The VAR checked the play and confirmed the decision, giving the Pride a player advantage for the final 12 minutes.

The Pride nearly took advantage and scored a third in the 82nd minute when Marta’s shot was blocked out by Kurtz. The ensuing corner kick by Adriana found a wide-open Rafaelle beyond the back post. The center back’s header was off the outside of the post, keeping the score at 2-1.

The fourth official showed five minutes of second-half stoppage time, but that was increased when Rafaelle’s inadvertent elbow found the head of Courage substitute Tyler Lussi. Blood was dripping down her face, so the forward needed to change her shirt and shorts. Hines took the opportunity to make two final changes, replacing Adriana and Listro with Brianna Martinez and Celia.

While the Pride had a defensive lineup for the final minutes, the 10-player Courage were unable to create any chances. The Pride did well to maintain possession, continuously taking it to the corner to run the clock out. It was a successful strategy as they held on for a crucial win.

North Carolina ended the game with significantly more possession (67.2%-32.8%), but was unable to create more chances with it. Both teams had 10 shots and the Pride put more on target (3-2). The Courage had more crosses (14-11) and passed more accurately (88.7%-73.2%). The Pride had more corner kicks (4-2).

“Massive win tonight,” Hines said. “Running out of games now. Only three games to go and we have to give absolutely everything. I think looking back, you know, some of the performances are brilliant. We haven’t rewarded ourselves with the three points and you know, I’m so happy that we were able to get up in the game, take our opportunities. And a lot of credit has to go to the players, because they’re the ones who are competing, going out there day in, day out in training and performing at such a high level in the field. We’ve made it uncomfortable for North Carolina, going up in the game and then not giving them too much to try and play through the lines and stop that rhythm. But you have to have the right mindset to do that, and I felt everyone from back to front did their job and they were brilliant at their job.”

“We’ve been working so freaking hard, and it’s so nice to finally get the reward, because I think you’ve seen this team have games like this and sometimes it just doesn’t go our way,” Doyle added. “So for it to finally go our way, it’s just such a relief.”

It was a unique home game for the Pride because the hosts usually have the majority of possession. It was the opposite in this one because the Courage dominated possession and the Pride had to maintain their concentration. That’s something the team has had trouble with this season, especially on set pieces.

“We knew they’re a team that gets 500 passes per game. So credit to them,” Doyle said. “They’re a super good football team, so we knew we had to be disciplined in our defensive shape. That’s what we’ve been working on all week and we really just had to stay compact.”

The win sees the Pride jump the Houston Dash, Racing Louisville FC, and Angel City FC, from 10th to seventh place. They’re now only one point behind the Washington Spirit for the sixth and final playoff spot. While they’re tied with Angel City on points, the Pride currently hold the tiebreaker on goal difference.


The Pride now have a two-week break before they take the field again. They were supposed to play Angel City in Los Angeles on Thursday night, but that game was delayed until Oct. 2 because of the upcoming international break.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Summer Yates to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new two-year deal though 2025 with a mutual option for 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Summer Yates to a new contract. The deal keeps the second-year professional in Orlando through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

“Summer’s growth over the last season has been evident, and her contributions on the field this year are a clear result of the work and dedication she has put into both herself and the team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “She is incredibly deserving of this new contract, and we are thrilled to reward her with it. We’re excited to see what Summer will achieve over her career here in Orlando and thankful to have her as part of our club for the foreseeable future.”

While many thought Yates would be a first- or second-round selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, the University of Washington product dropped to the fourth round, where the Pride took her with the third pick (39th overall). It was seen by some as possibly the steal of the draft. Despite her low selection, the club signed her to a two-year deal with an option for 2025 on March 7, 2023.

Yates played sparingly during her rookie season, primarily seeing time during the NWSL Challenge Cup. However, she’s had a breakout year during her sophomore campaign, becoming a key contributor to the team. After making 10 league appearances in 2023, she’s made 15 appearances this year with 11 starts, scoring four goals.

The 24-year-old made her professional debut on March 26, 2023, coming on for Marta in the 53rd minute of the season-opening 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns. She made 10 appearances and recorded 108 minutes in league play a year ago. The rookie was more prominent in the NWSL Challenge Cup, appearing in six games (two starts), while recording 259 minutes and two assists.

This year, Yates came on in the 70th minute of the season-opening 2-2 draw against Racing Louisville for Morgan Gautrat, scoring the equalizing goal in the 86th minute. She earned her first start on April 12 in a 1-0 win over the Utah Royals. Following her late goal that secured a point in the season opener, Yates scored the lone goal of a 1-0 win over San Diego Wave FC on April 19 and converted the eventual game-winning penalty against the Washington Spirit on April 26. Those performances have earned her the opportunity to extend her stay in Orlando.

“I am so honored to be staying in Orlando,” Yates said in the club’s release. “From day one, this organization has believed in me and helped me develop my game in so many ways. This team is so special, and I am grateful that I get to continue to be a part of it. Vamos Pride!”

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Yates was the playmaker of the Washington Huskies. She made 93 appearances (86 starts) during her collegiate career, scoring 27 goals and recording 23 assists in five years. She was named to the All-Pac-12 team four times, Second Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches, and twice named to the All-Pacific Region Team.

Internationally, Yates has appeared on the United States U-20 Women’s National Team, helping the side win the 2020 U-20 Concacaf Championship.

What It Means for Orlando

Yates was a low-risk and high-reward draft pick for the Pride. She was expected to go in the low first round or early second round, but continued to fall as the draft continued. Fortunately for Orlando, she was still available in the fourth round, where the Pride were able to take what might be the steal of the draft.

It was tough to judge Yates with her limited playing time in 2023, but she’s taken a major leap this season. She had the tough task of replacing Marta and Adriana earlier in the year when the Brazilians were out, taking advantage of those opportunities. She’s also been asked to take on more defensive roles due to multiple injuries to defensive midfielders.

Marta is currently on the final year of a two-year deal, so this could be the final season for the 38-year-old superstar. When the Pride captain does decide to end her career, Yates is an option to take over the number 10 role. She’s proven she can play the position and, at only 24 years old, still has room to grow.

Regardless of her future role in the team, Yates has proven this year that she can be a key contributor. The Pride’s recent success has been based on hitting on several trades and draft picks, both by Carter and former general manager Ian Fleming. Yates is another one of those good selections and has now dedicated herself to the Pride for the near future.

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Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Cori Dyke to New Contract

The Pride have signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new deal through 2025 with a mutual option for 2026.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed rookie midfielder Cori Dyke to a new contract. The deal runs through the 2025 NWSL season with a mutual option for 2026.

“Cori has stepped up and contributed in big moments this season, playing with composure and professionalism well beyond her years. Her versatility has been a very important part of our team, as well as her commitment to growing and learning each day,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “We’re happy to be able to provide her with the support and environment she needs to continue her growth as a player, and to also see her continue as an important piece of what we are building here in Orlando.”

Dyke was selected by the Pride with the eighth pick of the second round (22nd overall) in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She was subsequently signed to a one-year deal on March 11, ensuring she would be on the team this year. The 23-year-old midfielder was an unused sub on March 22 against Angel City and wasn’t in the team until April 26 when she came on in the 81st minute in a 3-2 win over the Washington Spirit at Audi Field. However, she’s since become a regular for the team, taking part in every game since. The rookie has made 11 appearances this season with one start and recorded 269 minutes.

The one-year deal she signed in March was an audition to see if she would be a part of the team in the future. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines has spoken glowingly about the midfielder and used her more and more as the season has gone on. Those performances have earned her a new deal that could keep her in Orlando for another two years.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this new contract and to be staying in Orlando,” Dyke said in the club’s release. “I am so grateful to the staff and my fellow teammates for my experience thus far. I know I will only continue to grow and learn more from them while in this environment. This really is a special group and I feel blessed to continue to be a part of it.”

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Dyke played five years for the Penn State Nittany Lions, gaining an extra year of eligibility due to the global pandemic. She made 108 appearances (all starts), scoring nine goals and recording nine assists in her collegiate career. During her senior season, she moved to center back and was named Big Ten Defender of the Year while helping Penn State to a league-best nine goals conceded in 17 games. For her success at the collegiate level in both academics and athletics, Dyke recently was named Penn State’s female Big Ten Medal of Honor winner for the 2023-2024 academic year.

At the international level, Dyke has competed for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the U-14 through U-23 levels, including winning the 2017 CFA Tournament with the U-19 side.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride have built a strong side the last few years, enabling them to reach the top of the NWSL standings. Now, the goal for Hines and Carter is to keep those players together. While Dyke is unlikely to start much for the Pride during these next two years, she’s done well in her role as a substitute, coming on late to help the team see out games.

Dyke is a defensive-minded midfielder that can slide back into the back line when needed. That versatility is valued by Hines and Carter and has been crucial to the Pride’s success this season. Her former college and current Pride teammate, Kerry Abello, played in the attacking midfield until this year, when she moved back to left back, with Kylie Strom taking a central role. Dyke’s ability to play in the midfield or on the back line makes her valuable to the team.

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Orlando Pride vs. Kansas City Current: Final Score 2-1 as Pride Win Battle of Undefeated Teams

Despite going down to 10 players in the first half, the Orlando Pride beat the Kansas City Current on the road.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride (11-0-5, 38 points) went on the road and handed the Kansas City Current (10-1-5, 35 points) their first loss of the season, winning 2-1 at CPKC Stadium in Kansas City. The Pride’s Barbra Banda and the Current’s Temwa Chawinga — the two top scorers in the NWSL — traded goals in the first half, and Marta scored the winner with a penalty kick in the second half.

Orlando was reduced to 10 players in the 42nd minute after Carrie Lawrence received her second yellow card, but the Pride were still able to win their 11th game of the season, claiming the battle of the league’s last two remaining unbeaten teams. The result extended the Pride’s unbeaten streak this season to 16 games — 17 dating back to last year’s season finale — and they are now first in the league standings.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change to the lineup that won 3-0 against Angel City FC, with Angelina replacing Haley McCutcheon in the midfield. It was Angelina’s first start since undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on her knee on May 9. Anna Moorhouse started in goal behind a back line of Kerry Abello, Kylie Strom, Emily Sams, and Lawrence. Julie Doyle, Angelina, Summer Yates, and Adriana made up the midfield, while Marta played a bit further up the pitch with Banda up top.

The Pride wasted no time in attacking and created the game’s first chance in the second minute. Banda charged toward the end line on the right and her shot forced a save from Current goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Orlando cycled the rebound around until it wound up at the feet of Angelina, who took a low, driven shot from distance that Franch was able to gather.

It was just the start of a frantic battle between the league’s top offenses, as the match featured plenty of counterattacking. The duel between Strom and Michelle Cooper was one to watch up and down the wing and highlighted the back-and-forth nature of the match. Strom defended well against Cooper, but the 21-year-old had the Current’s first real chance in the sixth minute when a decent cross found her in the box, only for her to send it over the bar. Abello then went the other way, winning a corner after her cross was blocked.

Another important battle between individual players was Lawrence’s defense against Chawinga. It was just Lawrence’s second start this season after her injury in last year’s preseason, and stopping Chawinga is arguably the toughest assignment in the league. Chawinga is particularly lethal when counterattacking and Lawrence picked up the first yellow card in the 14th minute when she pulled the Malawian forward’s shirt to slow her down on the break. Though the Pride were able to safely deal with the ensuing free kick, the card put Lawrence in a tough spot early.

Sams made a critical tackle against Chawinga soon after, one of many great contributions from the defender. However, Chawinga was relentless in this match and had another chance in the 17th minute, nearly getting on the end of a loose ball in the box. However, Moorhouse was there to collect it and see out the danger. Moorhouse was called to action again in the 20th minute, making a save but spilling the rebound before chasing it down to push it out of play.

It was a physical match, and Marta received a yellow card in the 23rd minute for her reaction to a hard foul from Claire Lavogez. Marta will likely be heading back to Orlando with some bumps and bruises as it was just one of many times during the match that she was knocked down. Strom spoke after the match about how Marta’s passion in this match was a rallying point of sorts for the team.

“You saw the fire in her eyes today, and that is so contagious,” Strom said. “We see her fighting, and she’s the one throwing her body in front of everything, putting everything on the line. Everybody gets behind that, everybody in the locker room. We are so connected and that’s something so special with this team.”

That passion was evident soon after that foul, as Marta hustled to get in the way of an attempted clearance by the Current soon after. Banda was quick to get to the loose ball in the box, but she was forced into a tough angle and sent her shot wide.

In the 28th minute, the Current picked up their first yellow card of the night after Claire Hutton kicked the back of Marta’s leg while defending her.

The hydration break did little to slow down the breakneck pace of the game. In the 32nd minute, Marta didn’t get all of the ball on an attempted shot and the Current sprinted the other way. Lavogez took a crack at goal herself from outside the box, but the shot went just over the ball. A minute later, Marta was fouled yet again, this time in a decent area from distance. Angelina lobbed the free kick over the Kansas City defense, but Franch was there to catch it.

The Pride finally broke through in the 37th minute. Adriana found a nice pocket of space between Kansas City defenders and Marta found her fellow Brazilian with a nice pass. Adriana didn’t take long to shoot and it never had a chance at going in, but it did deflect off of Elizabeth Ball and Banda was there to jump on the opportunity. The Zambian forward was on it in an instant and beat Franch to give the Pride the lead.

It was Banda’s 12th goal in what has been a fantastic first season in Orlando. With that goal, she took the lead in the NWSL Golden Boot race as well.

That lead, both for the Pride and Banda, lasted all of two minutes. Chawinga bested Lawrence and was then off to the races, dribbling through Orlando’s defense and putting her shot past Moorhouse for the equalizer in the 39th minute. It was Chawinga’s 12th goal of the season as well.

The game wasn’t done changing though, as Lawrence received her second yellow card in the 42nd minute and was sent off. Lawrence had been defending Chawinga yet again and left her feet to tackle the forward from behind, leaving the Pride with just 10 players for the remainder of the match. Even though halftime was looming, Seb Hines immediately made a change with his first substitution in the 44th minute, bringing off Doyle to add another defender in Rafaelle. Hines has spoken often about the importance of goals right before halftime, so it made sense for him to bring on Rafaelle immediately to prevent conceding a late, first-half goal.

Chawinga nearly had her brace in the 46th minute after a nice first touch to beat Sams and set up a shot. Moorhouse redeemed herself with a phenomenal diving save to nudge the curling shot just wide and out for a corner. While she had some worrying moments in this match, this save was one of Moorhouse’s best of the season.

Although down a player, the Pride didn’t stop pushing for a goal offensively to close out the first half. However, despite a flurry of corner kicks from Orlando, the first half ended with the game tied 1-1 and the Pride at a disadvantage due to Lawrence’s exit.

The Pride had more possession (53%-47%), shots (7-6), shots on target (5-4), corner kicks (4-1),and crosses (9-8). The Pride also completed 76% of their passes, while the Current were successful on 72% of theirs.

Hines made another change at halftime, replacing Yates with McCutcheon in the midfield.

It didn’t take long into the second half for Marta to be fouled again, with Lo’eau LaBonta receiving a yellow card this time. The medical team came out as she stayed down, but Marta was ultimately able to continue.

It was hard to tell that the Pride were down a player at times, as Banda and Marta required plenty of attention from the Current and the team remained organized and consistent with its pressure. This wasn’t the first time the Pride have played well after a red card this season and it showed.

“You have to manage those moments. You have to not find excuses,” Hines said. “It could have been very easy to give up and say, ‘You know what, we’re playing the top of the table tonight at their grounds, we’re down to 10 players.’ That could have been your excuse, but we’re not like that. That’s not the attitude. That’s not the character that we have in this group. They embrace it. They use it as fuel. Even when things are going against them, they step up and have great attitudes throughout the whole game.”

Adriana, Banda, and Marta all had their shots blocked in a barrage of chances for Orlando in the 51st minute, earning a corner for their efforts. That corner was cleared by the Current and Chawinga was wreaking havoc at the other end in a flash. Her cross skipped in front of goal, but Moorhouse collected it before the Current could capitalize. In the 55th minute, Chawinga sent a shot directly at Moorhouse. The goalkeeper couldn’t handle it, but her back line was able to clear away the danger during the panic.

Kansas City Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski made his first substitution in the 56th minute, bringing in Bayley Feist for Lavogez. In the 57th minute, Hailie Mace was shown a yellow card for yet another foul against Marta.

Things took an unexpected turn in the 60th minute. Sams came up with another important tackle to spark a counterattack that sent Banda downfield in a hurry. The forward dribbled towards the box and then slipped a nice pass in to tee up a shot for Adriana. The Brazilian’s first shot was blocked, and she rushed to poke at the rebound, getting fouled by Franch in the process. Franch was shown a yellow card while Adriana remained down and the Pride were awarded a penalty. Marta took it and beat Franch to give Orlando an unlikely lead while down a player on the road. Purists may say her penalty kick was too driven to be a panenka, but it was crafty, deceptive, and wound up in the back of the net all the same.

The goal showcased Orlando’s commitment to keep attacking for a winner despite being a player down in the second half.

“It didn’t change,” Hines said in regards to the team’s game plan after the red card. “We came into this game with the intention that we wanted to win. Whether we have 10 players or 11 players, it doesn’t matter. We always feel like there’s an opportunity for us to win.”

Chasing a result, Feist had a shot from distance in the 66th minute. It took a deflection, but Moorhouse was able to make the save without any trouble. Hutton had a shot from distance in the 68th minute, but it went over the crossbar. The Pride’s defense did a great job limiting the Current to tougher shooting opportunities and pressed when needed to stop Kansas City from gaining momentum.

Hines then added some fresher legs with a pair of substitutions in the 69th minute, with Cori Dyke and Ally Watt replacing Adriana and Angelina. Watt did fairly well when defending and applying pressure, although she did concede a foul in the 74th minute that gave the Current a free kick in a dangerous area. Debinha is lethal from set piece situations, but the Pride’s wall did its job to stop the shot.

Banda had a chance to expand Orlando’s lead in the 80th minute, but Franch managed an impressive kick save to deny her. She had another chance in the 84th minute while surrounded by Kansas City players, but her shot went wide.

Andonovski made another change in the 85th minute, with Brazilian defender Lauren coming on for Ball. The Current started to pick up the pace, creating better opportunities as the game neared its end. Feist had a shot from distance that went over the bar like many others, but it wasn’t off by much.

Hines responded by bringing in another defender, with Bri Martinez coming off the bench for Marta to help see out the match. Moorhouse came up with another big save in stoppage time against Ellie Wheeler after the ball took a weird bounce off of Abello. The Current were relentless, but the Pride proved why they have the best defense in the league.

“I think it says so much about our mentality,” Abello said after the match. “Going a player down obviously isn’t the best situation, but you can still get points. We’ve played some of our better football when we’re a player down. We still found the spaces. We still played well. It’s all about making good decisions and just being gritty in the defensive third.”

Mace had a shot with plenty of heat on it that went just off target and Chawinga put a header wide of goal in the final moments in the Current’s best chances of an onslaught of attacks successfully endured by the Pride. The final whistle blew after a little over 10 minutes of stoppage time and the Pride claimed all three points on the road.

Lawrence’s red card shifted things as far as statistics go, but it was far from one-sided, as the Current finished with more possession (57%-43%), shots (23-15), shots on target (13-11), and crosses (26-11). The Current also completed 74% of their passes while the Pride completed 68% of theirs. Both teams had five corner kicks. Moorhouse finished the game with seven saves, and Franch ended up with three.

“We showed so much character, so much heart,” Strom said. “To be honest, even when we went a man down, we were never in doubt. We knew we could win this game. From the beginning of this year, we knew we had something special with this team and we just proved it.”

There was plenty of attention on this match as it pitted the league’s two previously undefeated sides against each other for the first time this season. It was the most impressive result yet for a team that has far exceeded expectations this season. Seb Hines has spoken often this year about the team’s tenacity and this match was a testament to the work the Pride have put in to reach the top of the table.

“To go down to 10 players so early in the game and show the character that we’ve been talking about all season long is just incredible,” Hines said. “To come into this environment, we knew that was going to be a tough game. Same amount of points, same amount of wins, same amount of ties, there was nothing between us going into this game. I think we showed our character, our personality.”


The win gives the Orlando Pride sole possession of first place in the NWSL standings after 16 games. They are in a great spot as the league takes a break for the Olympics and the Summer Cup. Marta, Adriana, Rafaelle, Angelina, Banda, and Grace Chanda will all be in Paris for the tournament.

The Pride’s next game will come in the group stage of the inaugural NWSL X Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup when they take on the North Carolina Courage on July 20. Their next NWSL match isn’t until Aug. 23, when they face the Houston Dash on the road.

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