The Orlando Pride conceded a third-minute goal and failed to score for the second consecutive game, losing 1-0 to the Western New York Flash and falling to just 1-4 on the road this season. The Pride drop to 4-4 in their inaugural NWSL campaign and have now split the two meetings with WNYF, with each team winning 1-0 at home.
A worrying trend continues for Tom Sermanni's club as the Pride has now been outscored 6-2 on the road this season, although the team appeared to score in the 21st minute. Off a set piece, Laura Alleway got to a 50/50 ball just ahead of Flash goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom. The ball caromed toward goal where Jasmyne Spencer swooped in and tucked it home for an apparent equalizer. The referee conferred with the assistant on the far side and came back to wave off the goal.
Despite a number of good chances, it was the only time the Pride were able to put the ball into the net.
The Flash came out attacking with Lynn Williams missing just wide of the net two minutes in. Just a minute later, from nearly the same spot, Makenzy Doniak's shot from the right side deflected in off the left post and in for her first career goal, putting Western New York ahead.
Following the goal, Orlando had the better play for about the next 25 minutes. Kristen Edmonds' cross found Spencer on the far side in the sixth minute but the diminutive forward couldn't bring it down and the chance went wanting. Two minutes later, Samantha Witteman sent Alex Morgan in and the captain was taken down in the box by Abby Dahlkemper. The referee called nothing, though replay suggests a penalty should have been awarded.
Alleway's free kick was tipped over the bar by Eckerstrom in the 14th minute, as the Pride kept the pressure on. Spencer forced an Eckerstrom save with a shot a minute later and in the same minute, Steph Catley's cross was headed just wide of goal in a crush of bodies. After the waved off goal in the 21st, Josee Belanger tried her luck from distance but fizzed her shot high.
New York came back into the game a bit before the half, with Jessica McDonald firing on net and forcing a big save by Ashlyn Harris.
The Pride nearly drew level again in the 37th with Maddy Evans forcing Eckerstrom into a diving save. The rebound fell for Spencer, who didn't get all of it and her shot was cleared off the line at the last second by Alanna Kennedy. Morgan tried a chip from a tough angle with no teammates in the box in the 39th minute, and three minutes later the captain set up Spencer, who fired straight at Eckerstrom.
Western New York nearly doubled its lead in the 43rd when McDonald broke in on the counter after a bad turnover by Belanger in the attacking third. U.S. international midfielder Sam Mewis sent McDonald in but she shot wide of goal.
Just before the half, the Pride had a great opportunity to pull level with a free kick just outside the box after a handball. Catley hit the free kick well but Eckerstrom made another diving save. The Flash took their advantage into the locker room.
After the break, the Pride seemed out of sorts, ceding far too much possession to Western New York. Dahlkemper missed just high with a free kick after Alleway committed a foul about 25 yards out early in the second period. Moments later, McDonald headed just over the bar off a corner kick. In the 53rd, Harris was forced into a diving save and she did well not to allow a rebound.
Sermanni had seen enough, as he sent Lianne Sanderson out in the 54th minute to help keep possession and facilitate, withdrawing Belanger. The move worked. Evans smashed a ball on target in the 56th minute but Eckerstrom made yet another diving stop.
Orlando poured forward in numbers, becoming susceptible on the counter. McDonald nearly benefitted from this after turning around Alleway and leading a break with numbers. Toni Pressley did well to slow McDonald and the play broke down due to an offside call in the 63rd. Three minutes later, Mewis blasted a shot but Harris made a diving stop.
In the 67th, Evans threaded a nice pass to Morgan, who was in on Eckerstrom but she tried to chip from in tight and the shot sailed over. Three minutes and another diving Harris save later, Morgan broke into the box again and was slammed down to the turf hard after tangling with Elizabeth Eddy. The initial contact was shoulder-to-shoulder but it looked as though Eddy left the ball and threw out her arm at the last minute. No foul (or penalty) was given (again), and Morgan stayed down for several minutes trying to recover from the impact.
The captain showed she was OK in the 73rd, firing a shot on target but it was right at the keeper. Sanderson set Morgan up again four minutes later but Morgan tried to go near post and missed wide in what was probably a bad decision, as she had a lot of net on the wide side at which to shoot.
Down the stretch, the Pride ran out of chances and the Flash pulled out the 1-0 win. It was Orlando's second straight road shutout loss and the third in the last four away games.
Orlando will try again next Saturday night at the Washington Spirit at 7 p.m.