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Orlando Pride vs. FC Kansas City (Round 3): Final Score 2-1 as Morgan’s Late Strike Lifts Pride

It’s four straight wins for the streaking Pride.

Deon Cooper, The Mane Land

Alex Morgan’s late strike snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Orlando Pride to their fourth consecutive victory, beating FC Kansas City, 2-1, at Children’s Mercy Victory Field in Kansas City, MO. Morgan extended her goal-scoring streak to five games (seven goals) and ran the Orlando Pride (9-6-5, 32 points) unbeaten streak to five (4-0-1).

FC Kansas City’s winning streak was snapped at three.

Chioma Ubogagu had put the Pride up in the first half, only to see FCKC (6-9-5, 23 points) equalize through Lo’eau LaBonta’s strike late in the first half.

Without Jasmyne Spencer (hamstring) available, Tom Sermanni went back to last week’s starting lineup at Boston.

FC Kansas City countered with its own 4-2-3-1 formation.

FC Kansas City started the game with an energetic high press that forced the Pride to play in tight spaces. Orlando had some difficulty in the early going. Orlando was forced into long balls instead of playing out of the back and allowed Kansas City to get most of the ball early.

However, the Pride earned the game’s first goal-scoring opportunity just five minutes in after a foul just above the box gave Orlando a free kick. Marta stepped up and fired a dangerous shot that beat the keeper but went just inches wide of goal.

Shortly after that, the Pride started dealing with the pressure a bit better and FCKC backed out of it a bit, allowing Orlando to build some possession in the attack. This led to a series of corner kicks that eventually paid off in the opening goal in the 16th minute.

Yael Averbuch cleared the first corner behind for a second. Nicole Barnhart punched the second one out for another corner kick. The third time was a charm. The ball in rattled around in the box and eventually fell for Ubogagu, who fired and beat Barnhart for her third goal of the season.

Orlando controlled play after the goal but couldn’t generate much against a stiff FCKC defense. Alex Morgan tried to slot in a ball for Marta in the 27th but it was a tad heavy and Barnhart got their first. The Pride possession spell lasted until the water break at the 30th minute, when Kansas City restored its pressure and started playing more direct balls over the top for Sydney Leroux.

The USWNT striker nearly put her team ahead in the 42nd minute by cutting back against the grain to her right and firing a shot that forced a diving save from Harris. But seconds later the hosts found the equalizer anyway. Lo’eau LaBonta got in behind the defense and took a Shea Groom pass in tons of space, beating Harris to level the game at 1-1.

The teams went to the locker rooms tied at 1-1, with possession just about 50/50. Kansas City held a 6-4 edge in shots (2-1 on target) but about half their efforts were little trouble for Harris from distance.

The second half didn’t produce a second goal until late in the contest but the Pride had some opportunities to regain the lead. Morgan forced a save just five minutes after the restart.

Morgan again came close to beating Barnhart in the 71st minute. The Pride striker took an entry ball from Marta, settled it and fired left-footed but couldn’t sneak it through Barnhart.

In the 87th minute, Morgan finally got her goal. Off a free kick to the right of the penalty area, Marta stepped up to take the set piece. The Brazilian fizzed a ball in toward the near post and Morgan flicked it on target. Barnhart got her gloves on it but the delivery had enough pace to get through the Kansas City keeper and into the net.

Here’s another look at that finish.

The Pride still had to white knuckle through a couple more minutes of normal time and a full seven minutes of stoppage, as FCKC poured numbers forward into the attack. The hosts fizzed several dangerous crosses through Orlando’s penalty area.

Ali Krieger had to make a perfect tackle from behind in the 89th to thwart a break in on goal and force a corner kick. In the 92nd minute, Leroux sent in a cross that Maegan Kelly deflected just inches wide of Harris’ back post. Four minutes later, Steph Catley scuffed what appeared to be a routine clearance and it nearly turned into an own-goal, but again it trickled wide for a corner.

Finally, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, the referee blew the full time whistle on Orlando’s fourth consecutive win and a perfect 2-0 road trip.

The Pride finished the match with 52.5% of the possession but FCKC led in shots, 14-9 (but 3-4 on target).

Orlando returns home for three straight matches now, starting next Saturday night against the Boston Breakers.