It was a mostly listless 90+ minutes at Swope Park Village in Kansas City as the Orlando Pride fell 2-0 to the previously winless champs, FC Kansas City. The Pride, playing without Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Laura Alleway, and Kristen Edmonds had some good spells of possession but couldn't seriously threaten Nicole Barnhart's net.
Orlando, which hadn't conceded in three straight matches, allowed two goals to a team that entered with that number on the entire season, but backup keeper Aubrey Bledsoe was blameless on both, with the first taking a wicked deflection on a long free kick in the 53rd minute, and the second being a perfectly curled effort from Erika Tymrak from the top of the box in the 77th to put the game to bed.
The Pride (4-3-0, 12 points) squandered a chance to go top of the table had they been able to pull off a win against an FC Kansas City (1-4-2, 5 points) team that had been...well, bad, this season. Tom Sermanni played a 4-3-3 lineup that looked like this:
Your Starting XI for tonight's match against @FCKansasCity. #KCvORL pic.twitter.com/eZen7IF0kg— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) May 28, 2016
Sarah Hagen recovered from an ankle injury in time to get the start and had the team's first decent chance with a shot from the right side of the box that Barnhart snared, but she left after just 21 minutes after having an undisclosed issue -- potentially a heat-related problem. Recently signed 2016 draft pick Christina Burkenroad came on, making her Pride debut in Hagen's place.
For about the first half hour, Orlando controlled possession and fashioned the best scoring chances, albeit no truly dangerous ones. A few crosses came close to connecting with Pride players but there was no end product. FCKC got on the front foot at about the 35-minute mark and really controlled the rest of the night.
Becky Edwards' foul in the 52nd minute seemed harmless enough, conceding a free kick from about 35 yards. But Yael Averbuch stepped into a free kick that deflected off Sanderson and Bledsoe, who had it covered initially, could only watch helplessly as it reversed course to the other side of her goal.
Sermanni pressed the attack, bringing on Jamia Fields for Sanderson and eventually Kaylyn Kyle for Edwards, but Orlando could not string passes together and playing long balls directly for the diminutive Jasmyne Spencer proved fruitless. FCKC was always the more dangerous team on the counter in the second half, although Bledsoe and the defense handled most of those attacks. But the Pride fell asleep in the 77th, leaving Tymrak wide open. She took a touch to bring the ball more centrally and ripped a curler just inside the far post before Kyle could arrive, beating a diving Bledsoe.
The team certainly missed Morgan, Edmonds, and Alleway on this night. But Bledsoe played well in Harris' spot. She was alert to danger before it became a problem in most instances, coming off her line aggressively to snuff out chances. She couldn't do anything about either goal.
The Pride will try to bounce back after the international break, visiting the Western New York Flash on June 11. That won't be easy, as Orlando is just 1-3-0 on the road this season and has been outscored 5-2 in those matches, getting shut out twice. The Flash gave Orlando all it could handle at home in a 1-0 match on May 14.