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Orlando Pride vs. FC Kansas City: Player Grades and Player of the Match

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How did the shorthanded Pride players fare in a 2-0 loss against a struggling team at the bottom of the NWSL table? Here are our player grades and game MVP. Vote for your Player of the Match in our poll.

Image via Orlando Pride

The recap from last night's Pride matchup versus FC Kansas City at Swope Soccer Village pretty much tells it all: listless. Although there were very decent individual efforts, the drainage of some of the strong talent that has allowed the Pride to rise through the tables was very noticeably lacking and was just not good enough for the club to pull off a victory, or even a point away against FCKC which has struggled thus far in the season to get any traction but managed to get its first win at home against the Pride.

Starting XI

GK, Aubrey Bledsoe, 6.5- Bledsoe saw her first action of the season during this game, with starting GK Ashlyn Harris called up for national team duty ahead of their upcoming friendlies against Japan. Bledsoe allowed two goals past her, although neither can truly be attributed as her fault. She had several good saves, most notably one in the 20th minute and another in the 58th which forced her to come off her line and make some smart defensive moves. These good instincts are nice to see in the backup keeper, knowing that the Pride are going to be without Harris quite a bit over the coming months. Playing time and gained experience will allow Bledsoe's clear instincts to sharpen.

D, Steph Catley, 8.0 (Player of the Match)- Catley is proving most definitely to be the backbone of this defensive line. She was all over the field in this game, chasing long balls, handling a couple terrific sliding tackles, and making a terrific effort in the 76th minute to try to equalize the game. Catley's main strength as a quiet leader in this squad is her ability to partner with so many of her teammates to make opportunities, like a terrific series of passes to Lianne Sanderson in the 35th minute, or a great high pass to newcomer Christina Burkenroad, who got a shot aimed directly at the keeper in the 29th minute.

D, Toni Pressley, 6.5 - Pressley had several ups and downs in this match with numerous missed opportunities to stop the run of play by FCKC but was either off her mark or late to the ball. A solid tackle in the 81st minute to regain the ball from a run by forward Shea Groom was one of her best plays of the night. Unfortunately, slow attacking on the opposing players, despite her size and physicality made this a lackluster performance from someone who we're seeing has great glimmers of possibility.

D, Monica, 6.0 - Monica's presence, or lack thereof, on the field was not noticeable only for the lack of things to say about it. Although she didn't make any strong challenges to the ball, she also didn't seem to give up any possession in passing.

D, Josee Belanger, 6.5 - Belanger had a solid showing with some good defensive instincts throughout the game. A great play in the 38th minute to stop Shea Groom, who was all over the Pride defense, was an excellent challenge. Belanger got away with only a yellow for a slide tackle from behind in the 89th which easily could have been a red, as it denied a clear goal scoring opportunity.

MF, Becky Edwards, 6.0 - Edwards was having a decent night until a weak challenge on Erika Tymrak was called as a foul by the referee, resulting in a free kick taken by Yael Averbuch, which deflected off of Lianne Sanderson and scored the first goal for FCKC in the 54th minute. The rest of the evening was solid attempts to get a touch on the ball but passes up front to Spencer couldn't seem to find the mark and she was subbed out in the 71st minute.

MF, Lianne Sanderson, 6.5 - Sanderson and Catley did a great job trying to build a partnership to move the ball up front but despite the passes and the attempts, they couldn't seem to convert anything decent. Sanderson's pace seemed slightly off in the second half, clearly also felt by Head Coach Tom Sermanni, who subbed her out at 65 minutes.

MF, Maddy Evans, 6.0 - Evans was very quiet on shots toward the net in this game with a couple passes making forward progress and one terrific individual effort for goal in the 70th minute with a shot from distance. However, not a lot of smart play with Evans turning over the ball several times in long ball passes to invisible teammates.

F, Jasmyne Spencer, 7.5 - Spencer has some terrific opportunities early in attacking on the ball including in the 5th minute off a cross from Sam Witteman that had all the chances to put the Pride in an early lead. Her speed never ceases to surprise as she blows past her markers.Unfortunately, a few heavy touches on the ball made adding to her scoring total impossible in this frustrating game.

F, Sarah Hagen, N/A - Hagen managed a couple of early shots toward goal, but confusingly called to be subbed off at 21 minutes. Although she had been fighting an ankle injury she appeared to be match fit and started the game fairly strong. The frustrating early substitution was a wasted one for the team who could have used fresh legs later in the game to perhaps put the Pride on the board. With an incomplete performance, we'll give her an N/A on the night.

F, Sam Witteman, 6.5 - Witteman is having a great season so far, making the most of her possession and pushing hard to get the ball up to the box. Spencer's near-goal in the fifth minute came off a cross from Witteman, followed later by a series of passes in the 55th minute which resulted in a high ball and then shot by Sanderson, which was almost put on target.

Substitutions

F, Christina Burkenroad (21'), 6.5 - Burkenroad came on early to relieve Sarah Hagen. Her presence was immediately felt as she tested FCKC's defenders with quick touches on the ball that partnered with crossing back to Sanderson or, as in the 29th minute, the pass back to Catley.

MF, Jamia Fields (65'), 6.0 - Although Fields came on to replace Sanderson, her presence on the field was not as strong as Sanderson's had been. She had a few decent passes forward to Spencer but nothing that converted into anything meaningful.

MF, Kaylyn Kyle (71'), 6.5 - Kyle, who is used to being on the starting roster did a good job as a sub replacing Edwards, bringing some aggression to the midfield and attempted to shut down the momentum that FCKC found behind their first goal. Although Kyle wasn't able to convert any of her touches into runs at goal, her strength and power in the middle did show an interesting possibility of transitioning her into a late game sub for future chances at preserving a lead.

What did you think about the Pride's performance in Kansas City, who do you think had the biggest impact on the team's loss, or who do you think helped to keep FCKC at 2 goals? Let me know in the comments.