After dominating Chicago on the road earlier this month, the Orlando Pride (3-3-3, 12 points) will look to earn their second ever win against the Red Stars. Both Orlando and Chicago (2-2-6, 12 points) are in a three-way tie with Portland for third place in the NWSL standings and the winner could potentially move up to second.
Not only did the Orlando Pride earn their first ever win and first multi-goal game against Chicago back on May 2, but they also held the Red Stars scoreless in Toyota Park for the first time ever. Chioma Ubogagu scored early after a good run that started near midfield with an assist from Sydney Leroux. Rachel Hill came in off the bench and brought a spark to the Pride which enabled them to finish off the Red Stars, 2-0.
Prior to the last game, the Red Stars had dominated the Pride. After losing the first four games against Chicago, Alex Morgan’s 24th-minute goal on Aug. 5 of 2017 looked to finally be the edge that Orlando needed to beat Chicago. However, Sofia Huerta scored shortly after halftime to salvage a draw and keep the Pride winless against the Red Stars at that point. Chicago is 4-1-1 in the all-time series.
In the first five meetings, Orlando was held winless but every game was decided by no more than one goal. The first three games were 1-0 score lines, followed by a 2-1 game where the Red Stars went up two goals before Alanna Kennedy scored in the 93rd minute.
Huerta has been one of the most effective Chicago players against the Pride and her three-goal, two-assist season so far in the NWSL has her as one of the top attacking players in the league. The 25-year-old has a goal and two assists against Orlando and only Christen Press’ four goals is a higher total. But Press is now playing in Europe. Four Pride players have found the back of the net for Orlando in the series — Kennedy, Morgan, Chi, and Hill.
On Wednesday, the Orlando Pride fell 4-3 to the undefeated North Carolina Courage. Of the four goals allowed, two were unofficial own-goals and the other two were the result of the inability to clear the ball. Against the best team in the league, which is currently 12 points ahead at the top of the table, it was self-inflicted mistakes that led to the loss. The first half, as Pride Head Coach tom Sermanni said, “was probably the poorest performance that [Orlando] has put together in two and a half seasons.” And yet, the Pride were only down a goal at half and continued to fight to get back in the game.
Key players like Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger had poor games, and Sydney Leroux and Monica were not in the 18. There are positives to take away, including the fact that the Pride played that poorly in the first half and still were within a goal of the best team in the league. Against Chicago, they need to regroup and refocus.
“Any team with Sam Kerr is dangerous and with a quick turnaround from Wednesday, it’ll be important that we get in proper recovery and do our best to create and execute the best game plan,” said Sermanni. “No game in this league is easy but we know what our team is capable of and the skill we possess on our roster.”
Kerr is not off to the best start. She has just two goals in five games, after missing the beginning of the season due to international duty. For Chicago, this is a scary thing because the Red Stars have the second most goals scored in the league and the best player in the league is just starting to warm up.
In game planning against Kerr, Orlando will most likely be looking at Chicago’s last game, where it ended in a scoreless draw against Seattle. Both Sam Kerr and Alyssa Mautz were held without a shot.
Both teams will still be without some key players. Toni Pressley remains out with a quad strain, while Leroux (illness) and Monica (right knee strain strain) also remain on the injury list, albeit as questionable. Leroux had “a little stomach bug” according to Sermanni and should be fit to play. For Chicago, Vanessa DiBernardo (stress fracture pelvis), Stephanie McCaffrey (illness), and Casey Short (right ankle sprain) all remain out.
The Pride will continue their impressive play. There will be some tired legs from Wednesday’s game, so expect some rotation. Chi looked gassed and so it will be surprising to see her back in the lineup. Leroux, after sitting out midweek because of illness, should be back and ready to go. I think tonight she finally gets on the board after eight games with nothing to show for it. She currently leads the Pride in shots and shots on target, and her 619 minutes are the most among forwards and midfielders. I also think that the Pride will successfully limit Sam Kerr but Huerta will once again find the back of the net against Orlando.
Final Score: 3-1 Orlando
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defensive Midfielders: Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt,
Attacking Midfielders: Marta, Emily van Egmond, Rachel Hill.
Forward: Alex Morgan,
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Carson Pickett, Danica Evans, Christine Nairn, Chioma Ubogagu, Sydney Leroux, Kristen Edmonds.
Chicago Red Stars (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher.
Defenders: Taylor Comeau, Kathleen Naughton, Samantha Johnson, Arin Gilliland.
Defensive Midfielders: Michele Vasconcelos, Danielle Colaprico.
Attacking Midfielders: Yuki Nagasato, Julie Ertz, Sofia Huerta.
Forwards: Sam Kerr.
Bench: Emily Boyd, Sarah Gorden, Summer Green, Lauren Kaskie, Alyssa Mautz, Nikki Stanton, Rosie White.
REF: Reyna Fonseca.
AR1: John Krill.
AR2: Tom Felice.
4TH: Joshua Kelley.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Toyota Park — Bridgeview, IL.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.), Lifetime.
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