Last season, the Orlando Pride started off with four wins in their first six matches and appeared to be headed towards a successful first season in the National Women’s Soccer League. However, they dropped in form and suffered six losses over the course of June and July.
With a less than stellar start to their 2017 campaign, the Pride find themselves entering a critical part of the season. Their next five matches before the next international break will be crucial as they continue to battle for a playoff spot. The good news is that Alex Morgan should return at some point during this stretch.
A recent 2-0 loss to the Houston Dash was not a good result for the club, as the Pride fell to the worst defensive club in the NWSL. Additionally, the loss came at home, which was the Pride’s first loss at Orlando City Stadium in 2017.
Looking back at the 2016 season, the Pride played five matches from June 26 to July 31. This season, they will play five matches from June 28 to July 22. So why is this stretch important? All five of their opponents are clubs they have yet to beat in the NWSL. That will make things tough, because, after this stretch, only nine matches remain and a poor performance here could result in another missed playoff spot.
One of the opponents they will have to face is the Chicago Red Stars, who defeated the Pride twice in 2016. The Red Stars currently sit second in the NWSL table and the Pride will have to play them in three of their next six matches. If they lose all three, then it will certainly set them back. Luckily, two of the three meetings will be played in Orlando.
The other opponents during this stretch include Sky Blue FC, FC Kansas City, and the Washington Spirit. All three of those opponents are clubs the Pride can compete with and all three are very close to the Pride in the table.
On Wednesday, the trip to New Jersey to face Sky Blue is a perfect opportunity to regroup and get ready to face the Red Stars on Saturday. Two wins here and they are looking good for the remainder of the schedule before the international break.