Are you watching and following the Orlando Pride? If you are, then this article is not necessarily for you. Not that you can’t enjoy it, and perhaps use it to convince your less englighted friends.
No, this article is for the “I only care about the main MLS squad” person. The person that for some reason thinks the women’s game is inferior in quality, and thus not worth a look. The person that missed out on the juggernaut that has been the USWNT. The person that missed the Pride’s amazing run to the playoffs last season. That person.
It might be folly, but I’m going to try to convince you that you’re wrong. I’m going to try to convince you that you should not only be proud of the Pride, but you should be trying to make it to their matches, or at least watching them on television. Here we go!
The Quality of the Players
Last season, the Pride added the greatest women’s player of all time in Marta. She is a five-time World Player of the Year award winner. Everyone is familiar with Alex Morgan, who is proving to be one of the best strikers in the world. Additionally, the Pride have several players representing their national teams. Morgan and Ashlyn Harris are currently on the USWNT roster, and Ali Krieger was a longtime mainstay. Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley represent the Australia Women’s National Team (Note: Kennedy and Catley haven’t yet re-signed at the time this was written). Finally, Marta, Camila, and Monica are on the Brazilian Women’s National Team roster.
The quality doesn’t stop there, with several younger players making waves in the NWSL and other leagues around the world. Aubrey Bledsoe could be a starter for several other NWSL teams at keeper, but she’s backing up Ashlyn. Rachel Hill has been killing it in the Australian league, and the Pride just re-signed Dani Weatherholt. The team has a good mix of experience and youth, including some of the best players in the world.
The Beautiful Game
The women’s game is arguably better soccer than the men’s game. There’s less acting, and less faking of injuries. How many times have you seen one of the men seemingly collapse as if struck by a car even though they were barely touched? While I haven’t done any scientific studies, I feel that it doesn’t happen as much in the women’s game.
Then there are the salaries. Unfortunately, the women are paid way less than the men. There’s the argument that the men bring in more revenue, and thus are paid accordingly. While that may be true, it’s not because of the quality of the play. The women’s game is growing, and the players mostly do it for the love of the game. Maddy Evans retired at 26 because she couldn’t make enough money to support herself playing the game she loves. There are those that make good money, like Morgan, but that is not the norm.
Finally, the tactics are the same used in the men’s game, and the players are just as technically proficient as their male counterparts. Some are more talented.
The Best Team in Orlando
The Pride have done something that the MLS squad has not. They made the playoffs. Yes, they went out in the first match, but they made it. It wasn’t a sure thing after a 1-2-2 start to the season. They started the season with no Marta or Morgan, who was playing abroad with Lyon. Then Marta arrived, and Alex returned. The other players started coming together, and they ended the regular season with a phenomenal nine-game run without a loss. All of this made them the best team in Orlando without question.
I know this might not convince everyone, but they are professional footballers who deserve the attention and accolades they have earned. That includes our support this coming season. Tom Sermanni is building something special with this team, and they have a chance to be even better than last season. So set aside your petty arguments, put on your purple, and get behind this team.