As we count down to the new year of 2019 — which will be Orlando City SC’s fifth in MLS and Orlando Pride’s fourth in the NWSL — and say goodbye to 2018, it’s time to look back at the club’s 10 best moments of the year.
The Orlando Pride were 0-5-1 in the all-time series against the Portland Thorns when they traveled to the Pacific Northwest in May. That record included a 2-1 loss at Providence Park in the third game of the 2018 season on April 15. With seven international players on national team duty and Rachel Hill injured, the Pride got an early goal from Chioma Ubogagu but couldn’t make it stand up.
Orlando got an opportunity to avenge that loss — and six games of frustration against the defending NWSL champions — with a May 12 visit to Portland. Alex Morgan was nursing a mild shoulder sprain and her availability was in question entering the match-up, but she not only participated, but the USWNT star striker played a huge role in the Pride getting their first ever win against the Thorns.
At 2-2-3, it was an important game for the Pride. A loss would push Orlando back below .500 and a win could propel the team back into the thick of the playoff race. In fact, that 2-1 win on May 12 did just that. The Pride earned points in five of six games (4-1-1) starting with that win, and going back a few games Orlando produced at least a point in nine of 10 (6-1-3). The only loss in that span was a heartbreaker at the death against eventual champion North Carolina at home.
Morgan jumped on a mistake by the Portland back line just 11 minutes into the match to put Orlando on top.
Christine Nairn doubled the lead with one of Orlando’s top goals of the year 10 minutes later, slicing a ball off the bounce over goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom.
Although Christine Sinclair cut the Pride’s lead in half and Portland got more into the game, Orlando defended resolutely and Ashlyn Harris made some big saves. The combined effort of the full team helped Orlando finally get over the hump and beat the NWSL’s model franchise for the first time ever.
Despite the way the season unraveled after that run of good form that saw Orlando build a record of 6-3-4 and climb near the top of the table, it was an important win in the history of the club. Three losses out of four put the Pride in the danger zone after that run, and then four straight losses to end the season crushed Orlando’s postseason dreams.
Still, that one magical afternoon at Providence Park was a special one for Tom Sermanni’s team and it’s a worthy inclusion in our top moments of the year.
Come back through New Year’s Eve as we count down the remainder of Orlando City’s top 10 moments of 2018.
Previous Top 10 Moments of 2018
10. OCSC hires Oguchi Onyewu as OCB’s new technical director.
9. Orlando City bolsters defense with Carlos Ascues and Shane O’Neill in the summer window.
8. Orlando City B re-launched as a USL League One side for 2019.
7. Orlando Pride finally beat Chicago Red Stars.
6. Orlando City acquires Sacha Kljestan in a trade with the New York Red Bulls.