Welcome to your match thread for tonight’s match-up between the Orlando Pride (10-6-7, 37 points) and the North Carolina Courage (16-6-1, 49 points). This is the third of three scheduled meetings between the two sides this season and the regular season finale for both clubs. The Courage have already locked up the Supporters Shield and the Pride are in the playoffs but don’t yet know if they’ll be back at North Carolina next week or at Portland.
Orlando is 2-2-0 against the Western New York Flash/North Carolina Courage franchise, which relocated after winning the 2016 NWSL championship. The host team has won every game in the series so far.
The Pride captured the most recent match-up, 3-1 at Orlando City Stadium on May 14. That was Orlando’s first win of the 2017 season and snapped a 12-game winless streak that dated back to last summer. Chioma Ubogagu, Camila, and Jasmyne Spencer scored for the Pride and Debinha kept Ashlyn Harris from posting a clean sheet.
North Carolina took the first meeting, 3-1, on April 29. Jessica McDonald opened the scoring for the Courage, only to see Camila equalize with her first NWSL goal (which was voted NWSL Goal of the Week). The game turned on a handball in the box by Laura Alleway, which led to Sam Mewis’ penalty kick goal in the 33rd minute. Lynn Williams added a third in the 70th minute to tuck the game away for North Carolina.
As the Western New York Flash, the club split two extremely competitive matches against the Pride in 2016. On May 14 of last year, Alex Morgan scored to lead Orlando to a 1-0 win over the Flash. The Flash got their revenge with a 1-0 win of their own in the rematch in New York on June 11. Makenzy Doniak’s first career goal just three minutes into the match was all that separated the two sides on that day.
Orlando is unbeaten in eight matches (5-0-3) but has drawn its last two against Seattle and Portland. The Courage is unbeaten in three (2-0-1), having beaten Houston 4-0 on Wednesday to clinch the Shield.
“It’s not so much about giving time [to certain players], it’s about getting our preparation right for [the semifinal]. And it’s trying to keep the rhythm and the momentum in the team going that we’ve had the last seven or eight games,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “It’s more about us, sitting down, looking and thinking to be ready for a week from now and deciding what we need to do this weekend to make sure we do that as best as we can [in the playoffs].”
Pride left back Steph Catley (patellar tendonitis) is listed as probable. North Carolina lists Liz Eddy (hamstring strain), Darian Jenkins (ankle dislocation/fracture), and Yuri Kawamura (ACL and meniscus tear) as out and Jessica McDonald (hamstring strain) as questionable.
These should be fun. I’m going to predict what normal starters might look like since we have no idea if the two sides will rest some players — but I’m assuming they will. I’ll just go with what the teams fielded in their most recent match.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Steph Catley, Ali Krieger, Monica, Kristen Edmonds.
Midfielders: Alanna Kennedy, Camila, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Marta, Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu.
Bench: Aubrey Bledsoe, Toni Pressley, Jasmyne Spencer, Danica Evans, Nickolette Driesse, Jamia Fields, Rachel Hill.
North Carolina Courage (4-1-4-1)
Goalkeeper: Sabrina D’Angelo.
Defensive Midfielder: Samantha Mewis.
Midfielders: Lynn Williams, McCall Zerboni, Debinha, Makenzy Doniak.
Forward: Ashley Hatch.
Bench: Katelyn Rowland, Jaelene Hinkle, Taylor Smith, Denise O’Sullivan, Kristen Hamilton, Stephanie Ochs, Nora Holstad Berge.
Ref: Farhad Dadkho.
AR1: Jeffrey Skinker.
AR2: TJ Zablocki.
4th: Gregory Brigman.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.
Streaming: go90.com, go90 iOS and Android app, NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.).
Match Thread Rules
This is your live thread for posting comments on the match. So use our comments section below to talk about the game in real time with other supporters. If you're new, welcome to our happy home! While you're here, please observe a few basic rules:
- Absolutely no links to illegal streams. They can get us in trouble, and no one wants that.
- Try not to be "that guy" who spews nothing but venom and hate for the team. It's ok to be critical, and, let's face it, sometimes even the best teams can be frustrating to watch, but being overly negative relentlessly can sap the enjoyment for others.
- Keep it somewhat clean and fair when criticizing players / officials. You never know who might be reading.
- Do unto others in the match thread, the way you would have others do unto you. We are a fun community and want to keep it this way. We have a moderator, but we'd rather let him enjoy the game instead of having to play babysitter.