Welcome to your match thread for this afternoon’s match-up between the Orlando Pride (0-2-1, 1 point) and FC Kansas City (1-2-0, 3 points). This is the first of three scheduled meetings between the two sides this season. The Pride will host FCKC on Saturday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m., and will return to Swope Soccer Village on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 4 p.m.
The Pride are still winless but have seen no favors from the schedule makers, having faced defending Shield winner Portland, and the two teams from the 2016 NWSL final (Washington and North Carolina), with two of those three matches on the road. The Pride are digging a hole from which they may not be able to climb out when the schedule becomes kinder. Simply put, Orlando must take points from this game.
Tom Sermanni simply needs someone to start finding the net. Orlando is third in shots but has scored only two goals. Kansas City’s defense isn’t the ideal opposition for doing that. USWNT center back Becky Sauerbrunn may be the world’s best defender, and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is difficult to beat.
Meanwhile, FCKC has lost two consecutive 1-0 matches at Chicago Red Stars and Sky Blue FC, after opening the season with a 2-0 home win over the Boston Breakers. The Blues will feel much more comfortable returning home for today’s match.
FC Kansas City swept the two matches last season, outscoring the Pride, 4-1. In the first meeting, Orlando lost 2-0 at Swope Soccer Village on May 28 of last year without key regulars Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Kristen Edmonds, and Laura Alleway. After a scoreless first half, Yael Averbuch scored on a free kick that deflected in off Lianne Sanderson and Erika Tymrak added an insurance marker.
The Pride led the return leg 1-0 at the break in Orlando, but FCKC scored twice in the second half to steal all three points with a 2-1 win in what we thought was Becky Edwards’ last professional game (she’s now playing overseas). Jasmyne Spencer opened the scoring for the Pride with this tremendous strike:
The visitors leveled when an Ashlyn Harris save off Heather O’Reilly bundled in off of Tiffany McCarty. O’Reilly got the game winner on a penalty in the final 10 minutes.
O’Reilly won’t be a problem this year, as she’s departed the NWSL for Arsenal Ladies. FC Kansas City will also be without Amy Rodriguez after she unfortunately tore her ACL in FCKC’s season opener. The Blues still have USWNT veteran striker Sydney Leroux, however. It’s surprising they have only two goals to date and sit in eighth place in the NWSL, but Vlatko Andonovski’s team has been hit pretty hard by injuries. In addition to A-Rod, Alex Arlitt (left knee patella tendinitis tear), Shea Groom (broken rib), and Amanda Laddish (right hip surgery) have had significant health issues early this season. Groom has been upgraded to probable for this game, however.
“Kansas [City] is a team that has had an unfortunate start of the season with some injuries, but they are still a team that possesses some threats both on the attack and on the defensive end,” Sermanni said. “But we’re entering this game focused on our play and making sure we get the things right that were missing last week. We’ve had a good week of training and I think if we take care of the things we need to, we’ll have a positive result.”
For the Pride’s part, Camila (ankle sprain) is listed as doubtful a week after scoring her first NWSL goal — and winning NWSL Goal of the Week for it. Edmonds (knee) and Chioma Ubogagu (hamstring) are listed as probable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Midfielders: Monica, Kristen Edmonds, Maddy Evans.
Forwards: Marta, Danica Evans, Camila.
Bench: Aubrey Bledsoe, Laura Alleway, Dani Weatherholt, Jamia Fields, Jasmyne Spencer, Chioma Ubogagu, Nickolette Driesse.
FC Kansas City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Nicole Barnhart.
Defenders: Christina Gibbons, Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, Brittany Taylor.
Defensive Midfielders: Desiree Scott, Lo’eau Labonta.
Attacking Midfielders: Brittany Radcliffe, Shea Groom, Katie Bowen.
Forward: Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Becca Moros, Erika Tymrak, Catherine Parkhill, Caroline Flynn, Brianne Reed, Alexa Newfield, Maegan Kelly.
Ref: Marco Vegaar.
AR1: Jeremy Weed.
AR2: Eduardo Jeff.
4th: Devin Blazek.
How to Watch
Match Time: 6 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Swope Soccer Village — Kansas City, MO.
Streaming: go90.com, go90 iOS and Android app (in the U.S.), NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.).
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