After giving up an early goal to the visitors, the Pride were able to salvage a point when Marta delivered a penalty kick in the 21st minute, but not much else came to fruition in a hard-fought 1-1 opening day match in front of over 9,000 fans.
With five new faces on the field, play would seem to switch on and off with a lack of consistency in the midfield. So let’s break it down and look at how I graded each player.
GK, Ashlyn Harris, 4.5 — This wasn’t a great opener for Harris. I’m not judging too harshly on the goal against, Gunnhildur Jonsdottir went near post with her shot, and Harris got there, but couldn’t come away with the big save. What I found to be a bit poor was her distribution throughout the match. The ball was very rarely played from her with any promise, often times floating out of play or directly to an awaiting Royal.
D, Poliana, 5 — I wanted more from Poliana after watching her wreck Orlando last year, and I suspect that is still to come, however, Saturday wasn’t the night. In the first half I saw her close a lot of space and defend pretty well, but she quickly fell off as the game went on and would come out in the 66th minute.
D, Shelina Zardosky, 5.5 — She marked pretty well throughout the match, but there just wasn’t much for her to do on Saturday. She recovered well throughout the match and had a great tackle in the 30th and 39th minute.
D, Ali Krieger, 5.5 — Like Shelina, she wasn’t involved too heavily. I’ve watched the Jonsdottir goal a few times now, and I can’t quite figure out why she floated forward and allowed Jonsdottir to sneak in behind. Dani Weatherholt was nearby, and could be considered just as easily at fault, so I’m not knocking her for it. She did get close to equalizing not long after, sending a ball just over the crossbar.
D, Carson Pickett, 5.5 — Throughout the match, she would get the ball forward, but it often didn’t result in much and she failed to find that key pass that would unlock the offense, with the exception being the lob pass to Dani that led to the handball by Becky Sauerbrunn. I actually think she did the best out of everyone in defense, but I’m knocking her for not closing in on Diana Matheson, whose cross resulted in the early goal.
MF, Dani Weatherholt, 6 — Dani did a good job in the middle of the pitch, but she struggled to get the ball forward a lot of times and didn’t link up all that well with anyone else in the midfield. I think she was best at disrupting Utah’s play.
MF, Toni Pressley, 5.5 — Playing in a defensive mid role, most of the match she looked more like 2016 Toni, and not the revamped athlete we got in 2017. A bit slow sometimes to recover, and she didn’t play a large part in moving possession until the second half. She would come out in the 73rd minute when Tom Sermanni wanted to add a bit of fire power.
MF, Christine Nairn, 6 — In the 4-3-3 that rolled out, she played the attacking mid role decently, I thought. She was all over the field throughout the night and could have had the game-winning assist early in the second half with an awesome cross to Sydney Leroux. Her passing rate of 58.3% though shows she could have done more in the role.
F, Sydney Leroux, 7 (PotM) — I thought Syd came out and hit the ground running. She would often times fight for possession in the attacking half and keep the ball in play. She also had the best chances of the night, and could have put away the game winner in the 46th and 48th minutes. But her final touch was too strong on the former, and not enough on the latter.
F, Alex Morgan, 6 — Alex only got a half of work in before she left the game with a possible concussion. During that half, she failed to make much of an impact, one of the things she did do was draw defenders, which opened up the game for Syd. Her best chance came in the 28th minute but she couldn’t get enough on it to trouble Abby Smith.
F, Marta, 6.5 — Not the kind of game we’ve come to expect from Marta. She didn’t link into the attack as often as she probably wanted. And for a player that can appear anywhere at any time, her impact was minimized a bit by a tough Utah defense. She did slot home the penalty in typical Marta fashion.
F, Chioma Ubogagu (46’), 6 — Chi, coming in for the injured Morgan, made a decent impact, I thought. With her first touch of the game, she provided Syd with a golden opportunity, and continued to provide a spark with the ball on her feet. Her team’s second-worst 53.3% passing percentage could be better, but such is the life of a forward.
D, Monica (66’), 6 — Monica came in to provide a bit of energy, replacing a gassed Poliana. She tied Syd for the best passing percentage at 85.7%. But she didn’t get the chance to provide much else.
F, Rachel Hill (73’), 5 — I thought Rachel’s short work on the field was negligible at best. Of her five passes, she completed two, and wasn’t able to get into the attack like I was hoping.
Vote for your player of the match below and let me know what you thought of the performances.
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