The Orlando Pride (9-11-1, 28 points) blew an early 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 to Racing Louisville FC (5-6-9, 27 points) tonight at Lynn Family Stadium in Louisville, KY. Marta gave the Pride an early lead from the penalty spot and Kerry Abello doubled the advantage four minutes later. Nadia Nadim got a goal back for Louisville with a penalty just before halftime and Kirsten Davis equalized in the 70th. An Anna Moorhouse own goal in the 74th minute was the difference as the Pride’s playoff chances took a hit.
Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made three changes to the team that beat Angel City FC 1-0 on Monday night. Celia, Abello, and Messiah Bright entered the starting lineup for Mikayla Cluff, Julie Doyle, and Ally Watt, all of whom came off the bench.
The back line in front of Moorhouse was Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Madril, and Celia. Haley McCutcheon moved into the defensive midfield with Jordyn Listro behind Abello, Adriana, and Marta. Bright started the game as the lone striker.
The Pride got off to a great start, scoring two goals inside the first 25 minutes. They looked to be cruising to a crucial three points and a six-point road trip before a late first-half penalty by Louisville cut the lead in half. They attempted to defend the second half as they did in Los Angeles, but conceded two goals in four minutes. That was the difference as the Pride had little energy at the end of the game.
Celia gave the Pride their first chance in the eighth minute when she sent a low, curling ball towards the back post. Abello was making a run and beat Lauren Milliet to the pass, but couldn’t make good contact with it and the ball went out for a goal kick.
In the 12th minute, Marta dribbled into the Louisville box before cutting back, looking to pass to Adriana. Taylor Aylmer reached in to tap it away, but took out Marta’s plant leg instead. Referee Kevin Broadley allowed play to continue while Marta threw her arms in the air, incredulous that a penalty wasn’t called.
However, when the ball went out of play, video assistant referee Shawn Tehini had Broadley take another look at the play. After the review, Broadley decided that there had been a clear and obvious error, pointing to the spot.
Marta stepped up to take the penalty and didn’t make any mistakes. Louisville goalkeeper Katie Lund was hesitant to commit to a side and Marta did well to put the ball into the bottom corner, giving the Pride an early 1-0 lead.
Unlike Monday night, when the Pride were on their heels after the goal, they continued pushing for a second in this one. In the 21st minute, Rafaelle won the ball from Nadim and Marta found Abello. The midfielder dribbled into the box, used a cut to beat Julia Lester, and sent a shot into the roof of the net, giving the Pride a 2-0 lead. It was her first professional goal.
Three minutes later, the Pride had a chance for a third when Bright sent a cross towards the near post from the right. Lund was in a good position, but the ball got past her and went across the face of the goal. Unfortunately, no Pride players were making back-post runs, so the ball went harmlessly out of play.
The hosts got their first chance of the game in the 25th minute when Pickett’s cross was blocked out of play by Celia. The ensuing corner kick was headed out by McCutcheon, but only to Pickett, who shot. It was difficult to tell whether it took a deflection as the ball went wide, but Broadley pointed to the corner.
The second corner was cleared by Celia and Louisville maintained possession. Paige Monaghan sent a cross into the box that was flicked on by the head of Nadim for Thembi Kgatlana near the back post. The South African attacker shot to the far side of the goal, but sent it wide.
During the play, the back of Nadim’s head hit Madril, and the center back came up holding her eye. After being checked by the Pride’s medical staff, Madril went to the sideline for further treatment. As a result, the Pride played with just 10 players on the field for several minutes.
Louisville took advantage of having an extra player, building momentum and creating multiple chances while Madril was off the field. In the 31st minute, Kgatlana spun near midfield to beat her defender and sent Nadim through. The forward got behind McCutcheon, who moved back with Madril off the field, but McCutcheon was able to get back in time to block the shot.
In the 37th minute, Lester sent a cross to the top of the Pride box. It was behind Kgatana, but the attacker attempted an ambitious bicycle kick that was off target.
With Madril back on the field, the Pride were able to return to the attack. In the 38th minute, Marta made a run through the midfield and found an open Adriana. The Brazilian shot from long distance, forcing Lund to block the ball away.
In the 40th minute, Abello had a chance for her second goal when Strom received the ball from Marta on the left and sent a cross into the box. Adriana initially looked like she would try to turn, but let it go for the open Abello behind her. The midfielder’s first touch was a shot that went well over the target.
Louisville nearly had a chance to get one back in the 41st minute when Abello gave the ball away to Monaghan. The midfielder sent a pass into the box for Nadim, who was defended by Madril. The Pride defender put her shoulder into Nadim, providing enough time for Moorhouse to come off her line and collect it.
The hosts got one of the two goals back in the 44th minute and it was from the spot. Milliet sent a long ball that was well taken by Elli Pikkujamsa, who quickly turned and sent Savannah DeMelo into the Pride box. DeMelo had gotten by Bright, who desperately tried to get back in front of her. But DeMelo pulled up and Bright ran into the back of her.
It was an easy call for Broadley to point to the spot, awarding Louisville a penalty. Nadim sent Moorhouse the wrong way, and put the attempt into the corner to make it a 2-1 game just before halftime.
“That was a really tough one,” Rafaelle said about conceding late in the first half. “I feel like if we had got into the second half two up, we could kill the game.”
“You never want to concede at that time,” Hines added. “We talk about the big five moments and that’s a big five moment. But we do concede.”
The injury to Madril earlier in the half resulted in the fourth official showing seven minutes of first-half stoppage time. Five minutes in, Hines made his first change of the game. Adriana was listed as questionable coming into the game with a knee issue and was replaced by Watt.
“We planned just to see how she would feel and how would she look and you could see that she wasn’t the same player that she was in previous games,” Hines said about taking off his playmaker. “So we made a decision to take her out. Yeah, we could’ve waited until halftime but, you know, when you see a player and they’re struggling the way that Adri was, you know, there’s no point waiting until halftime. We just made a decision at that time.”
The last touch of the half was the only chance for either team in stoppage time. Kgatlana carried the ball inside near the top of the box and passed it across for Pikkujamsa. The midfielder shot on goal from distance, but right into the arms of Moorhouse.
Louisville had more first-half possession (50.2%-49.8%) and shots (9-5), but the Pride put just as many on target (3). The hosts also had more corners (4-0) and crosses (18-4), with the Pride passing more accurately (79.9%-78.4%). Most importantly, the Pride converted two early goals to lead 2-1 at the break.
“The message has been consistent. We have to keep battling. We keep fighting,” Hines said about his halftime talk. “They’re going to throw more numbers into the attack. They obviously need to win this game, as do we, and we’ve got to stand up to that challenge of defending and concentrating and being together. Like I said, that’s been a theme throughout the season.”
The Pride had the first chance of the second half in the 50th minute. Milliet received the ball on the right side from Lund in her own third and was immediately pressured by Listro. The defensive midfielder won the ball back for the Pride and sent Abello through. Bright was open in the middle of the box, forcing Lester to make a choice. The center back stayed closer to Bright, allowing Abello to shoot. Her attempt was on target, but she tried to go near post when there was much more room on the other side, and Lund covered her post and caught it.
Abello created another chance in the 53rd minute after receiving the ball from Strom. The midfielder beat Milliet and dribbled into the box with an eye for goal. Abello kept the ball close to her, turning Lester, and shooting, but Aylmer did well to get back and block the attempt.
Louisville had a chance for an equalizer in the 63rd minute when McCutcheon was called for a foul on DeMelo. It didn’t look like there was much contact, but Broadley gave the hosts a free kick just outside of the box. Before the set piece, Hines made his second change, replacing Bright with Cluff.
DeMelo took the free kick and sent a curling ball towards the near post. The shot was on target and it looked like Moorhouse would catch it, but the English goalkeeper couldn’t keep hold of it. Fortunately, Celia was the first to the ball, clearing it away.
Louisville found their equalizer in the 70th minute. Rafaelle sent a long cross-field pass with nobody running onto it, allowing Pickett to take over. The left back sent her own long ball down the left for Kgatlana, who quickly played it into the box. The cross narrowly got beyond the sliding Madril and reached Davis, who got behind Rafaelle. The second-half substitute tapped the ball past Moorhouse to even the game at 2-2.
Two minutes later, it looked like Louisville might take the lead. It was Kgatlana finding Davis again from the left. The attacker got behind the Pride defense, but Moorhouse made the stop. It wouldn’t have counted anyway because Davis was offside.
In the 74th minute, Milliet’s attempted cross was blocked out by Rafaelle for a corner kick. The ensuing set piece was into the box and Moorhouse jumped to punch it away, although it looked to be a comfortable opportunity to catch it. Challenged by Aylmer, the Pride goalkeeper mishit the ball into her own net and Louisville completed their comeback, taking a 3-2 lead.
“I think all they had in the second half was their transitions and we were not ready,” Rafaelle said about conceding the two second-half goals. “They were taking goal kicks fast and throw-ins fast and we’re not really set for that. But I think also because after a long trip from LA and everything we’ve been through this week, I think we kind of just sat back and waited for them. But we should get the ball and try to score another goal.”
Rafaelle attempted to pull the Pride back even in the 77th minute, making a long run to the top of the Louisville box. Instead of playing it to an attacking teammate, the center back took the shot herself, sending it right to Lund.
After that attempt, Hines made his final three changes of the game. Doyle, Brianna Martinez, and Mariana Larroquette entered the game for Marta, Celia, and Listro.
The Pride nearly found an equalizer in the 80th minute when a corner kick landed at the foot of Cluff and she played it back to Martinez. The substitute lifted the ball to Doyle between two defenders and the attacker attempted to guide it to the back post. She had Lund beaten, but the ball went just beyond the target.
The Pride were unhappy to see 11 minutes of second-half stoppage time in Los Angeles Monday night, but they were pleased with the 10 minutes added to this one. In the fifth minute, Strom was fouled by DeMelo about 25 yards from goal, giving the Pride a great chance. Larroquette’s free kick was headed out to Madril, but the center back’s shot was well off target.
The Pride ran out of gas in the final minutes and were unable to create any good chances down the stretch. After leading 2-0 late in the first half, they fell 3-2 in a devastating loss away from home.
At full time, Louisville had more possession (50.3%-49.7%) and shots (12-11), while both teams put five shots on target. The hosts also had more corners (6-3) and crosses (27-16), and the Pride passed more accurately (76.8%-75.1%).
“Good start, you know, 2-0 up away from home. I think we were pretty comfortable and then we just looked at the goals there and it’s our own doing. Individual errors allowed Louisville to win the game,” Hines said about the performance. “It’s something we haven’t seen recently. We’ve been really good and I hate to make excuses, but with the travel and injuries and so on, that played a part in the game. I can never fault the players’ efforts. They were brilliant. They battled all the way to the final whistle and that’s been a theme throughout the season. We’ve always gotten the results at the end of it, but today’s disappointing considering where we were at the start of the game.”
The Pride were 7-0-0 when scoring first this season heading into this game and Louisville had never come back from a two-goal deficit in their three-year history. Making this result more maddening, OL Reign and the Washington Spirit played to a scoreless draw. Three points in this game would’ve seen the Pride jump both in the standings, securely in a playoff spot. Instead, they fall a point behind the Reign and two points behind the Spirit heading into decision day next weekend.
After playing two games in four days, the Pride will have more than a week off before they host the Houston Dash next Sunday. They’re still well within reach of a playoff spot, but now they’ll need a win and some help to qualify.
Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract
The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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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