Orlando Pride

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

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

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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