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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 vs. North Carolina Courage, NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup: Final Score 1-1 as Pride Claim a Point

The Pride drew the North Carolina Courage 1-1 to open the Summer Cup but lost 5-4 in the penalty shootout.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride (0-0-1, 1 point) opened the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup with a 1-1 draw against the North Carolina Courage (0-0-1, 2 points) in Cary, NC. The hosts took the lead just before halftime through Manaka Matsukubo, and Celia equalized in the 82nd minute. The Courage then won the postgame penalty shootout, 5-4, to claim a second point.

The Pride lost six starters from the team’s 2-1 win over the Kansas City Current on July 6 to the Summer Olympics in Paris, including Rafaelle, Emily Sams, Angelina, Marta, Adriana, and Barbra Banda. Additionally, starting goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse was called up by the England Women’s National Team. As a result, there were significant changes to the team for the start of the tournament.

The back line in front of goalkeeper McKinley Crone was Celia, Kylie Strom, Carrie Lawrence, and Bri Martinez. Haley McCutcheon and Morgan Gautrat were the defensive midfielders behind Julie Doyle, Summer Yates, and Amanda Allen with Ally Watt up top.

The fact that the Pride had far more absences than the Courage was apparent in this game. While the Pride dominated most of the previous game in North Carolina, the Courage controlled this one. Crone had a great performance filling in for Moorhouse and kept the game close. The hosts took a deserved lead shortly before halftime and probably should’ve been up more. But the Pride took advantage of their good fortune by finding a late equalizer and taking a point home.

Between the regular season and the Summer Cup, North Carolina has only failed to take three points in a home match twice — both times in draws against Orlando.

The Courage had the first chance of the game in the sixth minute when Ashley Sanchez took the opportunity to shoot from outside of the box. The forward was aiming for the far post and it was close enough for Crone to dive, but the attempt skipped wide.

In the 12th minute, Narumi Miura found Sanchez on her right. After shooting earlier in the game, the forward looked for a teammate during this attack. Matsukubo got her head to the ball, but couldn’t redirect it on target, popping it up and enabling Crone to make the save.

The Courage had a dangerous opportunity in the 17th minute when Yates turned the ball over near midfield. Sanchez darted the other way and found Tyler Lussi on her right. The attacker carried the ball outside and attempted a shot, but Celia was there to block it.

The hosts had a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute when a bad pass by Strom enabled Lussi to send a long ball forward for Matsukubo. The forward brought it down well and played it forward for Meredith Speck, who got behind Martinez. Fortunately, Crone did well to come off of her line and snatch the ball off of Speck’s foot, ending the attack and keeping the game scoreless.

After sending her teammate through in the previous attack, Matsukubo had her own chance for the opener in the 26th minute when Sanchez sent a great ball to the top of the six-yard box. The forward got her head to the cross and redirected it towards goal, but sent it just over the top.

In the 31st minute, Lussi was sent behind the Pride back line from a long ball out of the back. The attacker was the first to it and it looked like she would have a breakaway, but Lawrence did well to get her body on the forward. The center back put just enough pressure on the attacker to force the shot off target.

In the 32nd minute, Lussi’s shot from the right side of the box was blocked out for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece by Malia Berkely found an open Sanchez. With plenty of time, the U.S. international controlled the ball and shot. Fortunately, it was deflected over the top.

Berkely took another corner kick from the other side and the ball bounced dangerously around the six-yard box, but Crone was eventually able to grab it and clear the danger.

The rain started to come down hard around the 35th minute and it seemed to help the Pride more than the Courage. After playing the entire first 35 minutes behind the ball, Orlando finally started to gain some possession in the opposing third of the field.

The Pride finally got their first shot of the game in the 40th minute when Watt laid the ball off for Yates about 30 yards from goal. The attacking midfielder made a nice move to lose Sanchez and shot from outside of the box, but Miura got in front of the attempt and blocked it.

In the 43rd minute, McCutcheon made an overlapping run around Doyle and the attacking midfielder played her down the left. Watt and Allen were in the six-yard box, but McCutcheon’s cross was a little too close to Courage goalkeeper Marisa Bova. The shot stopper briefly juggled the ball but was able to collect it.

A minute later, the hosts took the lead. A quality give-and-go between Ryan Williams and Sanchez sent Williams towards the end line on the right. Speck made a near post run that opened space for Matsukubo to run into. A perfectly placed ball by Williams made it an easy tap-in for Matsukubo to give the Courage the lead.

The fourth official showed four minutes of stoppage time and the Courage wanted to use that time to add to their advantage. In the third minute, Riley Jackson played the ball wide for Williams. The right back sent a dangerous ball across the face of the goal, but nobody in blue was able to get on the end of it.

The Courage had the last chance of the half in the final seconds. Speck sent a shot towards goal that went off the hand of Lawrence, giving the hosts a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. Sanchez stepped up to take the set piece and sent an excellent attempt towards the far post. It was around the wall and appeared to be heading in, but Crone did well to dive to her left and pushed it away with both hands.

After the first 45 minutes, the Courage had significantly more possession (64%-36%) as well as more shots (7-2) and shots on target (2-0).

The Courage began the second half the way they ended the first half. In the 49th minute, Kaleigh Kurtz sent a dangerous ball across the face of the goal but nobody was there to get on the end of it. Seconds later, Sanchez and Jackson played a give-and-go that sent Sanchez into the box. The forward shot on goal, but it was right at Crone and the Pride goalkeeper caught it to keep the deficit at one.

In the 51st minute, quick passing between Kurtz and Jackson sent Sanchez down the right side of the box. The forward was looking for her teammates making runs into the six, but her pass was deflected into the arms of Crone.

The first second-half attack for the Pride came in the 54th minute when Doyle found herself with the ball dribbling into the Courage box. Two defenders were in front of the midfielder as she used some moves to find some space for a shot. Unfortunately, she was well defended and her shot was easily blocked.

Lussi had a chance from distance in the 57th minute when Matsukubo used her chest to send Speck forward towards the top of the box. Laying it off for Lussi enabled the forward to take a long-distance shot. The Pride let her shoot from about 25 yards out and, while the shot was on target, it went straight to Crone.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made his first change in the 58th minute. Rookie Ally Lemos entered the game for Gautrat, providing the Pride with some much-needed fresh legs.

The Pride nearly found an equalizer in the 59th minute when Doyle was sent towards the top of the box on the right. Doyle took a hard shot that beat Bova, but bounced off the crossbar. Watt collected it on the other side and sent a ball into the six-yard box that couldn’t find any teammates.

The Courage had a great chance of their own in the 61st minute when Matsukubo sent the ball wide for Williams. The right back sent a great ball into the box with Jackson and Speck making runs into the six. The two appeared to run into each other as the ball sailed through, going out of play.

Celia provided a good opportunity for the Courage in the 62nd minute when she unnecessarily fouled Olivia Wingate just outside of the Pride box, earning a yellow card for the challenge. Sanchez took the set piece with Wingate and Speck in the six, nearly connecting with both of them. Fortunately, neither could get on the end of it and the Pride were able to clear.

In the 66th minute, Watt carried the ball to the end line on the right and sent a cross that hit the side netting. Hines used the stoppage to make his second and third changes, as Mariana Larroquette and Alex Kerr came into the game for Allen and Yates.

Shortly after entering the game in the 69th minute, Haley Hopkins had Martinez tugging at her shirt as she dribbled over the midfield stripe towards her own goal. Martinez went down and appeared to be in severe pain as she received attention on the ground. The right back required help coming off the field as she was unable to put any weight on her left leg.

Since Martinez needed to leave the game and it was the final available window for substitutions, Hines made two changes in the 73rd minute. Martinez and Doyle were replaced by Claire Winter — signed on Thursday as a national team replacement player — and Evelina Duljan. For Duljan, a young Swedish international, it was her Pride debut.

In the 76th minute, Watt was sent wide and played a great play into the box. Larroquette was making a run and nearly reached it before Bova, but the Courage goalkeeper got there first. While she struggled to control it, no other Pride players were nearby and the hosts were able to clear.

The Courage got the ball out of the box, but they soon lost possession and Duljan got a chance on the other side. The substitute found space to take a shot from a tight angle, but Bova blocked it out of play for a corner kick.

The ensuing set piece went through the box for Watt on the far side. The Pride forward shot for the near post, but hit the outside of the net.

Jackson bumped into Duljan in the 81st minute and the young attacker went down, earning the Pride a free kick. Lemos sent the set piece into the box, which appeared to be handled by the defense. However, they were unable to clear the ball further than the top of the box. Duljan was there to collect and shot for the far post. It beat Bova, but Miura was there to clear it off the line.

Miura was just trying to keep the ball from crossing the line, but her clearance gave Celia possession on the right side of the six-yard box for an open shot. Despite the tight angle, the right back put the chance in the back of the net to even the game at 1-1.

The Courage came close to retaking the lead in the 83rd minute when one-touch passing by several players resulted in Jackson sending Wingate behind the Pride back line. Crone did well to get down and make the save on the second-half substitute. The ball continued rolling toward the goal and Lawrence cleared it away before it got there.

Williams received the ball on the right in the 87th minute and sent a dangerous ball towards the penalty spot. Victoria Pickett and Miura were there to get on the end of it, with Pickett taking the shot, but Lemos got in front and blocked the attempt.

In the first minute of stoppage time, a dangerous ball into the box found Miura and the Japanese international turned to shoot, but Strom was there to deflect it out for a corner kick. Brianna Pinto took the ensuing set piece, which the Pride were able to handle. That was the final chance for either team as the game ended 1-1.

North Carolina dominated most of the game and it took a great performance by Crone to claim a point. The Courage had more possession (64.2%-35.8%), shots (16-8), shots on target (6-2), and corners kicks (4-2), but Celia’s 82nd-minute strike ensured the Pride would get a point for the second time in North Carolina this season.

“Overall in terms of the game, we’re very pleased to come (out of) here with a point,” Hines said about the game. “There’s no hiding in it, we’ve got a lot of players away on international duty. North Carolina didn’t have that case, so they were a little bit more fluid with how they played. You could see those connections, that team chemistry, which took us a bit. But fair play to the players to come here one-nil down and have the desire and the character to come back and score the goal. It’s brilliant to see. And we continue that momentum that we had in the league into the tournament now.”

“I thought, for us, it was a really good point,” Gautrat said. “It’s hard fought on the road, a lot of people got minutes, which is great, and obviously we’re using every person on our team, which I think is huge and pays dividends in the length of the season. And, for us, it’s a good point and a good time to try and get some penalty kick shootout practice. So yeah, I think that’s a good point.”

While both teams gained a point in the new NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup competition, the game went directly to penalties to see who got a second point.

After Larroquette barely got her shot beyond the reach of Bova to give the Pride the early lead, Crone knocked Riley’s shot off the post and the Pride had a 1-0 advantage after one round. All eight penalty takers converted in the subsequent four rounds, enabling Celia — the Pride’s lone goal scorer during the 90 minutes — to step up with a chance to end it. However, Bova guessed correctly, diving to her right to save the attempt and keep the Courage alive.

Pinto converted her attempt to keep the shootout going and McCutcheon stepped up to give the Pride the advantage. But it was a poor attempt by the defensive midfielder, enabling Bova to make an easy save.

Now it was North Carolina’s chance to win the shootout and former Pride midfielder Dani Weatherholt stepped up with an opportunity to end the contest. She was aiming to the right side of the goal — the same side Crone dove to. Similar to McCutcheon’s shot, it was at a good height and position for Crone to block it away.

Duljan took the seventh attempt for the Pride and became the only player in the shootout to miss. She was looking for the right side and Bova dove in that direction, but the ball sailed wide of the post. Miura stepped up with a chance to end the game and sent her shot to the left. Crone guessed correctly again and got her hand to the ball, but the shot had too much power and the Courage won the shootout 5-4 in seven rounds to take the extra point.

“I think the experience of a shootout was one we haven’t experienced ever, so having gone through that, it gives the players that sort of experience going forward,” Hines said. “You can’t replicate a shootout, as much as you can practice putting the pressure on, you just can’t do that in training. I thought the players dealt with it well.”

While the Pride will be disappointed to lose the extra point, there are positives to take away from the game. Several players that have seen few, if any, minutes gained valuable experience in a competitive environment. It’s something that will be beneficial down the stretch of the regular season.

“I think you could see that there were some players who hadn’t played significant minutes during the season,” Hines said. “Also coming after a mandatory break and the travel. I hate making excuses, because that’s a cop-out. But for us, we wanted to stay the same and we wanted to have that same identity regardless who was on the field for us. And I think looking back it’s a good result for us and a lot to continue to work on throughout this time.”

While the Pride were unable to win the shootout, the draw extends their unbeaten run this season to 17 games in all competitions.

The other game in Group E saw Racing Louisville beat CF Monterrey Femenil 3-1 in Kentucky. As a result, the Pride sit in third place after the first round of group games, one point behind the Courage and two points behind Louisville.


The Pride will take the field next on Saturday when they welcome Monterrey to Orlando for the club’s first game against a foreign opponent.

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Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Pride begin the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup away to the North Carolina Courage.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride return to action tonight as they begin the inaugural NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup away to the North Carolina Courage. This is the third time the two teams will meet this season, but the first in this tournament.

Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.

History

The Pride and Courage have played 25 times since the Western New York Flash moved to North Carolina and became the Courage in 2017. The Pride are 6-13-6 in those games (6-10-2 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-3-2 in the NWSL Challenge Cup).

The most recent meeting between the two teams was on June 15 in Cary, NC. The Pride were the better team on the night with more possession, shots, and shots on target, but the game ended in a scoreless draw. While they were disappointed with the result, the Pride were the first — and so far, only — team to take points in North Carolina this season. On May 1 in Orlando, Barbra Banda and Ally Watt started up top together for the first time, a move that paid off in the game. Banda set up Watt for the opener in the first half, and Watt repaid the favor just over 10 minutes later, as the Pride went up 2-0. Julie Doyle added a goal just before halftime, giving the Pride a commanding lead. Emily Sams’ own goal was the only scoring for the Courage and Banda’s second of the night gave the Pride a 4-1 win.

The first game between the Pride and Courage in 2023 was on April 19 in Orlando. The Pride took the lead after halftime when Summer Yates set up Watt for the opening goal, but Denise O’Sullivan equalized in the ninth minute of second-half injury time, resulting in a 1-1 draw. On June 17 in North Carolina it was all Courage. Kerolin and Meredith Speck gave the hosts a 2-0 lead before a Haley McCutcheon own goal made it 3-0 to North Carolina.

The Pride didn’t show up for the July 29 Challenge Cup contest in North Carolina, getting demolished by the Courage. Brittany Ratcliffe and Malia Berkely gave the hosts a 2-0 halftime lead before Frankie Tagliaferri made it three, and a late brace by Haley Hopkins completed the 5-0 result. The Pride finally got a win on Sept. 17, 2023 at home. Watt got the Pride off to a great start, scoring inside the first minute. After assisting on the first goal, Adriana doubled the lead before halftime. Manaka Matsukubo got one back for the visitors, but it wasn’t enough and the Pride won 2-1.

The first meeting in 2022 came on May 18 in North Carolina. The Pride got off to a great start in that game, with Sydney Leroux scoring early. Mikayla Cluff doubled the lead with her first professional goal. A late goal by Brianna Pinto got the Courage back within one, but it wasn’t enough as the Pride took the 2-1 win. On Sept. 21, 2022 at Exploria Stadium, it was the Courage that got off to the better start when Debinha scored in the second minute. The Brazilian then assisted Tess Boade in first-half injury time to double the lead, and later added another, dooming the Pride to a 3-0 defeat.

The Pride and Courage were placed in the same division for the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, so the teams played twice before the regular season started. The first game was on March 26 in North Carolina. Merritt Mathias converted a penalty after Gunny Jonsdottir was called for a handball in the box, lifting the hosts to a 1-0 win. The return match in the tournament took place on April 16 in Orlando. The Courage got off to a fast start, scoring three goals in the first nine minutes. Darian Jenkins netted a brace to make it 3-2, but a late Debinha goal put the game away and North Carolina won 4-2.

The teams played three times during the 2021 NWSL season. On May 22 in North Carolina, goals by Leroux and Alex Morgan gave the Pride a 2-0 lead late into the game. Jessica McDonald scored late to pull one back but the Pride held on for a 2-1 win. On July 4 in Orlando, Debinha and Havana Solaun goals helped the Courage take home a 2-0 win. The final game came on July 31 in North Carolina. Leroux opened the scoring but Brittany Ratcliffe equalized moments later and the teams drew 1-1.

The two teams were also matched up in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup but they only played once in that tournament. Neither team was able to find the back of the net in that game in a scoreless draw.

Similar to the Challenge Cup, the teams were in the same group of the 2020 Fall Series, meeting twice. The first was on Sept. 19 in North Carolina and ended in a scoreless draw. The second was on Oct. 17 at Exploria Stadium. Led by a Debinha brace, the Courage went up 3-0. But the Pride came back with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran for an exciting 3-3 draw.

The Pride and Courage played three times during the 2019 season. The first game was on April 17 in North Carolina. The Courage took a 1-0 lead into halftime but scored four times in the second half to win 5-0. They played a second time on June 1 in Orlando. Again, it was a dominant performance by the Courage as the Pride fell 3-0. The final meeting that year was another thrashing by North Carolina. The Pride got a goal in that one but still fell 6-1.

The teams also met three times in 2018 but the results were much closer. On May 23 in Orlando, goals by Alanna Kennedy and Rachel Hill saw the Pride come back from a 3-1 deficit. But McDonald scored a winner in the 90th minute and the Courage won 4-3. The Pride went down by three goals in the final two games that season, but were unable to come back and fell 3-0 in both contests.

The 2017 season saw the teams meet for the first time. The Courage took the first game 3-1 on April 29 in North Carolina. They played a second time two weeks later in Orlando when the Pride took the 3-1 win. The final meeting in 2017 came in the final game of the season on Sept. 30. The Pride took a 2-0 lead but the Courage came back to even it at 2-2. It looked headed for a draw until Kennedy netted a late winner, leading the Pride to a 3-2 win.

Overview

The Pride are having their best season in club history, going undefeated through 16 games. The most recent match was a clash between the only two unbeaten teams in the NWSL in Kansas City. The Pride showed they were better than the Current, winning 2-1 despite being down a player for the second half after Carrie Lawrence was sent off just before halftime.

While the NWSL has played through international tournaments in the past, the league is taking a break for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. It’s beneficial for the Pride, as they’ll be missing fiveof their most important players. Captain Marta, leading scorer Banda, playmaker Adriana, starting center back Rafaelle, and starting defender Sams are all at the tournament, joined by Angelina and new signing Grace Chanda. Rather than risking losing their unbeaten run, the Summer Cup will provide Head Coach Seb Hines with the ability to get meaningful minutes for less-used players who can help down the stretch.

The Courage also have players away at the Olympics, but fewer essentials than the Pride. Starting goalkeeper Casey Murphy is with the United States and starting left back Feli Rauch is with Germany. Additionally, 2023 NWSL Most Valuable Player Kerolin was selected by Brazil, despite tearing her ACL in last year’s season finale. The Courage will still be difficult to beat as the Pride’s draw in June is still the only time they’ve dropped points at home.

“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of players who are representing their country, which is massive for us as a team but also for the club. It’s not the same case for North Carolina, so they’ve only got I think three players missing from their current squad, which will be a challenge for us,” Hines said about tonight’s game. “They’ve got that consistency within their team selection. We’ll have a lot of changes to this opening game. We know it’s always difficult going to a place like North Carolina, but we’re going to build on what we’ve started this year, so it’s not going to change, regardless of the changes within the selection. We want to go out there and show everyone that even with our internationals away, we are still going to stick to our high standard and level.”

The Pride are without several players tonight due to injuries and international call-ups. Simone Charley (leg), Luana (illness), Megan Montefusco (heel), Viviana Villacorta (knee), Anna Moorhouse (excused absence), and Cori Dyke (excused absence) are out, while Kerry Abello (knee) is listed as questionable. Adriana (Brazil), Angelina (Brazil), Marta (Brazil), Rafaelle (Brazil), Barbra Banda (Zambia), and Emily Sams (USA) are all on international duty at the Olympics.

Estelle Johnson (maternity leave) and Bianca St-Georges (leg) are the only Courage players out injured. However, Casey Murphy (USA), Feli Rauch (Germany), Kerolin (Brazil), and Sydney Collins (Canada) are on international duty.


Official Lineups

Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: McKinley Crone.

Defenders: Celia, Kylie Strom, Carrie Lawrence, Bri Martinez.

Defensive Midfielders: Haley McCutcheon, Morgan Gautrat.

Midfielders: Julie Doyle, Summer Yates, Amanda Allen.

Forward: Ally Watt.

Bench: Sofia Manner, Kerry Abello, Alex Kerr, Ally Lemos, Evelina Duljan, Mariana Larroquette, Claire Winter, Kenna Caldwell.

North Carolina Courage (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marisa Bova.

Defenders: Malia Berkely, Kaleigh Kurtz, Dani Weatherholt, Ryan Williams.

Defensive Midfielders: Narumi Muira, Riley Jackson.

Midfielders: Ashley Sanchez, Meredith Speck, Tyler Lussi.

Forward: Manaka Matsukubo.

Bench: Hensley Hancuff, Brianna Pinto, Haley Hopkins, Denise O’Sullivan, Landy Mertz, Olivia Wingate, Natalia Staude, Victoria Pickett, Jenna Winebrenner.

Referees

REF: Lorenzo Hernandez.
AR1: Kendall McCardell.
AR2: Stephen Milhoan.
4TH: Marie Durr.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.

TV: None.

Streaming: Paramount+.

Twitter: For live updates and rapid reaction, follow the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).


Enjoy the match. Go Pride!

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Claire Winter and Kenna Caldwell to National Team Replacement Contracts

The Pride have signed Claire Winter and Kenna Caldwell as National Team Teplacement Players during the Olympics.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The Orlando Pride announced the signing of midfielder Claire Winter and goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell today to National Team Replacement Contracts. The pair will join the team during the upcoming NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup while six players are away at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Both players will be available when the team begins the new competition on Saturday night in North Carolina.

“Kenna and Claire have both put in a massive amount of work and we’re excited to reward them with these contracts,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Kenna has added further competition and depth to our goalkeeping corps since joining us in preseason. Claire, although she joined us only a few weeks ago, has already established herself within the group and continues to push herself and everyone around her to perform. Both athletes are infectiously positive and have integrated seamlessly into our environment. We’re thankful for their contributions and look forward to helping them further develop their game during this period.”

Caldwell spent five years at Texas A&M between 2019 and 2023, making 72 appearances (all starts) and recording 6,309 minutes. She recorded 231 saves during her collegiate career and saved 231 of her 689 shots faced for a save percentage of 74.8%. Her 78 goals conceded in 72 games gave her a goals-against average of 1.11 per game.

Despite a solid collegiate career, Caldwell went undrafted in the 2024 NWSL Draft. She joined the Pride as a non-roster invitee during preseason and continued with the team in a training role. However, she was unable to supplant Anna Moorhouse, McKinley Crone, or Sofia Manner.

Winter is a veteran, having played in multiple leagues and previously signed a National Team Replacement Player contract with another club. Following her collegiate career, Winter played for Spanish club RCD Espanyol de Barcelona in 2018 and 2019 as well as Puerto Rico Sol FC in 2020 before making her NWSL debut for NJ/NY Gotham FC as a National Team Replacement Player in April 2021. After her stint in New Jersey, the California native played for Treaty United FC in Ireland and Danish club Thisted FC in 2023 before joining the Pride a few weeks ago.

Prior to her professional career, Winter played collegiately at UCLA. From 2013 to 2017, she made 54 appearances with 27 starts, recording 2,381 minutes. The midfielder scored three goals with one assist while at the NCAA women’s soccer powerhouse under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride will have seven players at the 2024 Summer Olympics (Emily Sams with the United States; Marta, Adriana, Angelina, and Rafaelle with Brazil; and Barbra Banda and Grace Chanda with Zambia), so they had some space open on their roster to sign replacements during the inaugural Summer Cup.

Winter provides the versatility desired by Carter and Pride Head Coach Seb Hines with the ability to play both in the midfield and defense. The veteran played both positions in college and it was a reason why she was wanted by professional clubs. This might provide her with opportunities on the field since the Pride will be losing midfielders and a pair of defenders to the Olympics.

The surprising signing is Caldwell because goalkeeper is not a position of need. Moorhouse joined the England Women’s National Team for its final European qualifiers against the Republic of Ireland on July 12 and Sweden on July 16, but will return for the Summer Cup. Neither Crone nor Manner will be away, so the Pride will have four goalkeepers for the tournament.

While Winter fills a position of need, Caldwell’s signing likely a reward for her performances in training all season. The Pride have built depth at every position over the past two years and, despite losing seven players, aren’t in need at any position. Since the league is taking a break for the Olympics and the Summer Cup is only three scheduled games, the club has the opportunity to reward a player like Caldwell.

It’s unlikely that either of these players will see significant minutes during the Summer Cup. Hines will use the absences to provide playing time for reserves that haven’t seen the field much, which could be crucial as the Pride look to win the NWSL Shield and their first-ever trophy. But the signings serve to add depth, and are a reward for their hard work during training and potentially an opportunity to earn future contracts with the club.

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