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Orlando Pride vs. Houston Dash: Final Score 1-0 as Pride Win But Fall Short of Playoffs

A late Marta penalty saw the Pride defeat the Houston Dash but miss the playoffs due to tiebreakers.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride (10-11-1, 31 points) ended their 2023 campaign with a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash (6-8-8, 26 points) at Exploria Stadium. Marta drew a late penalty and converted it in the 87th minute for the winner. However, results around the league saw the Pride come up just shy of qualifying for the playoffs for the second time in team history.

Pride Head Coach Seb Hines made one change from the team that lost 3-2 to Racing Louisville FC last weekend. Erika Tymrak entered the lineup for the first time since Aug. 9 and the first time in a league game since July 7, replacing Celia. Haley McCutcheon moved into the defensive midfield last weekend, but returned to her regular right back position tonight.

“You go into film and you see areas that you can exploit. I think Erika’s been buying her time and waiting for her opportunity,” Hines said about starting the veteran. “We felt this was the right time to put her in. Also, the leadership that she brings, the experience that she brings also, and we needed a calm head in those moments. So, yeah, I want to make sure that everyone feels like they’re part of it. And sometimes it may not always be a start, it might be a substitution or, you know, just waiting for the opportunity. And between myself and the staff, we felt Erika was the right person to put in and in this game.”

“That’s part of the game,” Tymrak said about making her first appearance since Aug. 9. “Like, sometimes you don’t play for a month and then you start a game. That’s happened in my career more times than I can remember. So I think that’s just being a pro. You have to stay ready.”

The back line in front of goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse was Kylie Strom, Rafaelle, Emily Madril, and McCutcheon. Jordyn Listro and Kerry Abello were in the defensive midfield behind Tymrak, Marta, and Adriana, with Messiah Bright up top.

The Pride were the better team throughout most of the game. Houston had two golden opportunities late in the first half, but few other chances. The hosts were unable to convert most of their opportunities until the late penalty. Those misses will live in their memories during the postseason as they came up short of a playoff spot on goal difference.

The Pride were the aggressors early. In the fourth minute, Tymrak played Bright down the left. Katie Lind got a piece of the ball, sending it out of play. The ensuing corner kick by Marta found Rafaelle, but Maria Sanchez blocked it out for a second attempt. Houston was able to clear the second corner.

McCutcheon created an opportunity in the eighth minute when she sprinted down the right with the ball and sent a cross in before reaching the end line. The ball was aimed for Tymrak near the top of the six-yard box, but was just over her head.

Two minutes later, Marta almost created a moment of magic after a give-and-go with Bright. The Pride captain used quick footwork to beat Lind and Natalie Jacobs, keeping the ball glued to her feet. Unfortunately, the last touch got a little too far away and Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell collected it. Had Marta been able to get a shot off, it probably would’ve been the NWSL’s goal of the season.

In the 15th minute, Tymrak sent Bright behind the Dash defense. The forward’s touch was too strong, forcing her to attempt a cross instead of shooting. The cross was cleared, but only to Adriana at the top of the box. The Brazilian shot with her second touch, but sent the attempt over the target.

Houston got its first attacking opportunity in the 24th minute when Michelle Alozie won a corner kick. The set piece was to the near post and Sophie Schmidt was the first to it, but her header was wide.

Following a hydration break, the Dash created a chance in the 33rd minute when Schmidt sent a beautiful ball behind the back line for Nichelle Prince. The forward got behind Madril and shot, but sent the attempt straight to Moorhouse.

In the 34th minute, Adriana attempted a cross on the right, but it was blocked out of play by Sarah Puntigam. The ensuing corner kick by Marta found the head of Rafaelle, but the center back sent the attempt just over the crossbar.

On the other end, McCutcheon conceded a corner kick and the Dash looked to take advantage. The set piece resulted in multiple shots by the visitors, but the Pride defense stood strong, blocking them away.

Marta made a run through the midfield in the 38th minute and played it wide for Adriana on the right with space. The midfielder attempted a long-distance shot, but it was into the arms of Campbell, who easily collected it.

In the 41st minute, Marta carried the ball into the Houston third again, but this time took it herself. She took a shot from a tight angle that looked to be heading just inside the near post, but Campbell blocked it away. Her ensuing corner kick was headed out, ending up with Listro. The defensive midfielder shot from just outside of the box, sending it right to Campbell.

Houston nearly ended the first half by taking the lead. Four minutes into first-half stoppage time, Snachez sent a low pass across the top of the six-yard box that went behind Alozie. It reached Andressa, who flicked it with her heel past Madril and Moorhouse. The ball bounced off the inside of the left post and rolled across the goal line before Strom cleared it away.

That was the final touch of the half as the game went into the break scoreless. Houston had more first-half possession (55.1%-44.9%), but the Pride had more shots (10-8), shots on goal (3-2), corner kicks (4-3), and crosses (11-8). The Dash also had better passing accuracy (79.9%-77%) in the first 45 minutes.

The Pride got the first attempt of the second half in the 49th minute when McCutcheon found Bright in the Houston box. The striker redirected the ball towards goal with her first touch, but sent it wide.

They had another opportunity in the 52nd minute when Bright’s ball into the box was blocked out of play by Schmidt for a corner kick. Marta’s set piece was towards the top of the six-yard box, but too close to Campbell, who caught it.

With the Pride needing goals to keep their postseason chances alive, Hines made his first change of the game in the 55th minute. Forward Ally Watt came on for Tymrak.

The Pride continued to create chances in the 60th minute. First, Strom dribbled in from the left, shooting towards the near post. It went through Campbell’s hands and off the crossbar. Seconds later, Marta took a shot from the top of the box. The attempt was on target, but Campbell made a diving stop, pushing the ball wide.

Hines made two more changes in the 71st minute. Usual starters Julie Doyle and Mikayla Cluff came on for Bright and Listro.

A throw-in for Houston in the 73rd minute resulted in a chance for an opener by the visitors. Receiving the ball on the right, Caprice Dydasco played a short pass to Joelle Anderson, who came on for Prince in the 63rd minute. The substitute shot for the far post and didn’t miss by much, forcing Moorhouse to dive for it. Fortunately, the ball skipped wide.

Out of a hydration break in the 78th minute, Marta nearly connected with Doyle. The Brazilian lifted the ball into the box and the substitute dove for it. However, the ball was just beyond her reach, glancing off her head and wide of the far post.

Adriana felt she should’ve had a penalty in the 79th minute when Schmidt challenged for the ball in the box. The attacker went down, but referee Natalie Simon didn’t see a foul. Adriana appealed for a penalty, but the call was correct as Schmidt got the ball.

In the 84th minute, Doyle sent a long ball into the Houson box. Marta beat Lind to the ball and the defender pushed the attacker down from behind. Simon didn’t hesitate to point to the spot, awarding the Pride a late penalty.

After a brief VAR check, Marta stepped up to take the spot kick. Campbell guessed the correct way, but the shot was under her arm to give the Pride a late 1-0 lead.

“You need to feel the moment, you know? I’m trying to read what the goalkeeper think about and I’m trying to play a little bit with my eyes. Like to try to make sure she don’t take the ball,” Marta said about her penalty. “But it’s about the moment. And then I just, at the last second, I just decide to take her, I think it was her right side. And then it was a goal.”

Immediately following the goal and needing more to make the playoffs, Hines made two final attacking changes. Summer Yates and Mariana Larroquette came on for Abello and Madril.

In the 89th minute, Watt fouled Sanchez and was booked for the challenge. Sanchez’s free kick found the foot of Schmidt, who’s first touch was a redirect on goal. But it was to Moorhouse, who made the stop.

A minute into stoppage time, Adriana blocked a Diana Ordonez cross out for a corner kick. Sanchez’s cross to the near post connected with Schmidt, but the midfielder’s shot was wide.

Two minutes later, Doyle sent a cross into the box. Yates couldn’t handle the pass, but it went to Larroquette, who played it forward for Yates behind the Houston back line. The rookie shot, but sent the ball over the crossbar.

In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Doyle carried the ball inside and took the shot herself. Campbell got down to make the stop, but it went right to Adriana. The Brazilian chested the ball down and touched it to the side to create space, but the shot was into the arms of Campbell.

The final chance of the game for either team came in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Schmidt fouled Yates outside of the box, giving the Pride a dangerous set piece to the left of goal. Adriana sent it to Cluff at the back post. The midfielder’s head connected with the pass, but she couldn’t get enough of it, putting it wide.

Houston ended up with more possession (51.8%-48.2%), but the Pride had more shots (21-11), shots on target (8-2), corner kicks (6-5), and crosses (21-11). The Dash passed more accurately (75.7%-74.9%) and the Pride came away with a 1-0 win to end the season.

“It’s like, we win the game but we lose. So it’s difficult,” Hines said about the game. “I thought the game, we started a little bit slow and not as threatening as I would have liked us to be. But I get it, you know, there’s a lot at stake in this game and a lot of pressure. And I felt like in the second half we were more aggressive. The goal comes from a terrific ball from Julie, a great run from Marta, and she gets in behind the back line and gets brought down. And you think, you know, you’re 1-0 up and you’re looking towards next week. But, you know, it wasn’t meant to be and yeah, it’s a tough one.”

Despite the three points, the Pride fell just short of a playoff spot. OL Reign beat the Chicago Red Stars 3-0, NJ/NY Gotham FC drew the Kansas City Current 2-2, and Angel City FC stunned everyone with a 5-1 win over the Portland Thorns. As a result, the Pride finished tied on points with Angel City and Gotham for fifth, but fell on goal difference.

“I’ve played in leagues all around the world and you always have top teams and then kind of like this big gap and then lower teams. And I think what’s special about the NWSL is that there is no weak team,” Tymrak said about the number of teams fighting for playoff spots. “Every game you play is so hard. There’s no easy game. There’s no break game. But that’s why I think we’re the best league in the world is you have that competitiveness regardless.”

“I’m so proud of this team because from beginning everybody put us in the last. You know, like when you see the list, Orlando Pride was the last one,” Marta said about overcoming preseason expectations. “And look now, so it was too close. And I hope we can, of course we’re going to be sad, but learn about this today and don’t make this happen again next year. Because we’re going to come back strong.”

While the team fell short of the postseason, they have plenty to look forward to in 2024. The hiring of Hines as head coach appears to have been the right decision as they finished in their second-highest position in team history. Additionally, Marta indicated after the game that she’ll be back to captain the team next year, the last of her two-year deal.

It will be a difficult off-season for the Pride as they attempt to reconcile the missed opportunities that could’ve seen them continue their season. However, there’s plenty of optimism going forward with a young squad that’s proven it can compete in this league.

Orlando Pride

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.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

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



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

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

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

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

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

What It Means for Orlando

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

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

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Five Questions About the Orlando Pride in 2024

What are the top five questions for the Orlando Pride heading into the 2024 NWSL season?



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride have begun their preseason training for the 2024 NWSL season and will play their first preseason scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. The team nearly made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2017, narrowly missing out on the final day of the season. The team’s been busy this off-season, looking to improve the squad. However, there are still some questions to be answered before the competitive games start.

Here are five burning questions about the Pride for 2024.

Who Will Start in Goal?

The Pride signed English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse from French side Bordeaux on Jan. 31, 2022 to back up Erin McLeod. When the Canadian left after the 2022 season, Moorhouse was elevated to starter. She played well at times last year, but was inconsistent. However, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines showed confidence in the 28-year-old, starting her in 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games.

In December, the Pride traded backup Carly Nelson to the Utah Royals for Allocation Money. The move came 11 days after they signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner, indicating the club was planning for the departure. While Moorhouse will undoubtedly start the season as the team’s number one, Manner could claim the position if Moorhouse’s inconsistency returns. It will be something to keep an eye on this year.

Who Will Start in the Defensive Midfield?

The Pride focused on the team’s back line last year, but much of the effort this off-season has been on the defensive midfield. The team traded for Haley McCutcheon on Aug. 18, 2022 and it appeared as though she would start in the position. However, Hines moved her to right back last year, where she’s become the regular starter. It then looked like recent draft picks Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff would be the duo, but Cluff was traded to Utah on Nov. 15 for Expansion Draft protection and Villacorta tore her ACL late last year.

The club focused on the position this off-season, bringing in Brazilian internationals Angelina and Luana, along with USWNT player Morgan Gautrat. All three will battle to start in the defensive midfield, especially since Villacorta is injured and fellow defensive midfielders Cluff and Jordyn Listro are gone. But it’s still unknown who will start in those positions. It’s a question that will likely be answered in the coming weeks as the Pride build for the start of the regular season in March.

Where is Ally Watt Best Suited?

After tearing down the roster in a full rebuild, the Pride made two significant acquisitions in August 2022. In addition to trading for McCutcheon, the Pride dealt Allocation Money to OL Reign (now Seattle Reign FC) for forward Ally Watt. The speedy attacker quickly became the second option up top for the Pride, typically playing behind rookie Messiah Bright last year and starting the odd game. However, that’s not the only position she played.

Hines has shown he values versatility and illustrated that with Watt last year. In addition to playing up top, Watt was deployed on the right side of the midfield. Her speed and ability with the ball was an asset in the position, and she was praised by teammates in the role. They love having her on the right and Julie Doyle on the left, the two fastest players on the team. The questions now become: which position is she best at, and where does she best fit in with this team?

Who will Replace Messiah Bright?

Possibly the biggest question for the 2024 season is who will replace the starting striker. The Pride drafted Bright with the 21st overall pick of the 2022 NWSL Draft out of TCU, and she quickly became the focal point of the attack. Her six regular-season goals last year tied Adriana for the team lead. However, the forward requested a trade this off-season, citing personal reasons, and was shipped off to Angel City FC.

The club did sign Simone Charley, most recently with Angel City, who could replace Bright. However, she’s coming off a season-ending injury and wasn’t as effective in Los Angeles as she was in Portland. Other options include Canadian international Amanda Allen or Argentina international Mariana Larroquette. Watt might be the most likely to start the season up top as it stands, with Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter recently telling our SkoPurp Soccer podcast that 2024 will be “the season of Ally.” But it remains to be seen who will be the Pride’s new number nine.

Will We Discover the Pride’s New Number 10?

Marta has been the Pride’s number 10 since she arrived in 2017 and the team’s most prolific player. She leads the team all-time in appearances (102), starts (95), minutes (8,456), goals (31), and assists (18) in all competitions. However, she’s on the final year of a two-year deal that’s widely expected to be the last for the soon-to-be-38-year-old midfielder. If she does depart the club following the 2024 season, they Pride will need to find her replacement.

The club could go outside and find her replacement for 2025, but there are options in the current squad. The most talented player on the team currently is Brazilian international Adriana, who has typically played on the right side of the midfield, causing problems for defenses. She’s also switched with Marta at times, moving central, and has played there at the international level. The club also has Summer Yates, the former Washington Husky drafted in 2023. Yates slipped to the fourth round, where the Pride grabbed her, and Carter recently said she’s seen significant development in the second-year player.

While the primary focus is on this season, Hines could show his hand with who plays the most minutes behind Marta in the attacking midfield. While a final decision will probably be left to the 2025 preseason, we can get an idea of who might be in line for arguably the most significant role on the team during the 2024 campaign.

The Pride enter the 2024 season with more expectations than the last two years. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2023 and will be looking to improve this season. While most of the team is intact, there are some questions to be answered during preseason and the coming regular season. It will tell us a lot about the team’s 2024 season and the coming years.

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