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What to Expect From the Orlando Pride as the International Break Nears

Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Laura Alleway will miss Saturday's match after being called up for international duty. Let's see who might take the pitch against FC Kansas City.

Brad Newton

With the USWNT having a pair of friendlies against Japan next week, Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan were both called up by Jill Ellis to prepare for some pre-Olympics friendlies. Their Matilda teammate, Laura Alleway, will also be absent against FC Kansas City as her groin injury kept her out of last week's match against the Houston Dash and as a precautionary measure has flown back to Australia to be evaluated ahead of a pair of friendlies against New Zealand.

With these key players out of Head Coach Tom Sermanni's lineup, who might step up in their absence?

Brad Newton
GK Aubrey Bledsoe

So, this one seems fairly obvious. Bledsoe will be called into action for the first time for the Pride, and with the Olympics coming up in the summer will see even more sustained action later in the year. Bledsoe started in the Pride's preseason friendly against Florida State that was shortened due to weather, but not before making two impressive saves to preserve a 1-0 win early.

The former Wake Forest goalkeeper was the club's 10th pick in the NWSL Expansion Draft and had previously played internationally for Danish club Fortuna Hjørring, where in four UEFA Champions League matches Bledsoe only allowed two goals.

F Jamia Fields

Coming on as a late substitute against Houston for Jasmyne Spencer, the former Florida State forward was a member of the squad that won the NCAA national title in 2014. She had the second most assists all time for the Seminoles (30) in 103 games played and scored the game-winning goal for FSU in the 2014 national championship game.

Fields was drafted by the Boston Breakers but eventually signed with the Western New York Flash. She was the fourth player taken in by the Pride in the Expansion Draft and the 22-year-old only continues to develop under Sermanni. It's entirely likely that her inclusion at the end of last week's match was to give her some game minutes ahead of Saturday's match.

D Toni Pressley

Another FSU product, Pressley has featured in two matches for the Pride so far this season. She saw her first action of the season against the Western New York Flash, coming on in the second half and starting last week against the Houston Dash. Pressley proved herself serviceable and could be a useful center back when given the opportunity.

We've already seen wonderful play so far from Spencer, Lianne Sanderson, and Sarah Hagen. Not to mention Kristen Edmonds' beautiful goal against Houston. For a team that hasn't played together very long, you couldn't ask for better results.

One can only hope they keep up the same form as players leave the club for their international teams but, as the Pride has shown, its success is built around the combined efforts of the team as a whole. I, for one, have a bit of cautious optimism built up for them as they progress without their captain and some supporting players for at least part of the season.