In a mostly uneventful night, the Orlando Pride (2-2-3, 9 points) struggled on the attacking end and played to a goalless draw against the Utah Royals (1-1-5, 8 points). This is the second all-time meeting between the two clubs and the second draw. Neither team could get much going and the game was largely played in the middle third of the field.
The story of the first half can be summed up with one stat — zero shots on target by either team. Most of the half was played in the middle third and both teams just had a few opportunities.
Tom Sermanni started the same lineup as last Wednesday at Chicago, keeping Alex Morgan on the bench to start. Monica (adductor strain) was able to go and was slotted into the central defense in her usual spot between Shelina Zadorsky and Ali Krieger.
The best chance of the first half for Orlando came early on. Chioma Ubogagu had the ball down the left hand side. She looked up and played a low cross into the box looking for Marta but Abby Smith easily collected it. Sydney Leroux had the lone shot attempt for Orlando in the first 45 minutes but her attempt from the top of the box never curved in after a nice move to get seperation and it went out for a goal kick.
The best chance for either team came in the 27th minute. Brooke Elby and Kelley O’Hara both had shots blocked and Utah won a corner. Australian international Katrina Gorry played a good ball in but Rachel Corsie’s header went just over the bar.
Utah out-passed Orlando (244-204) but the Pride looked more threatening and spent the majority of the first half in the Royals’ half. With two of the best coaches in the NWSL on the sidelines there could have been expected to be changes heading into the second half; however, it picked up exactly as the first half left off. Sermanni clearly had a plan in mind though and quickly substituted Ubogagu out for Morgan just eight minutes in.
Morgan did not make a huge impact upon entering. Emily van Egmond got a shot from distance but that was the only true chance for Orlando until Rachel Hill made her appearance in the 70th minute. She got a rare shot on goal with her first touch of the game, but fired weakly right at Smith, wasting one of Orlando’s few true opportunities.
Marta put a cross in from distance looking for Hill and Morgan but neither were able to get on the end of it a minute later. A minute after that chance, Hill put a cross in for Alanna Kennedy but the Australian could not control it.
The end of the game opened up a bit as Utah put Orlando on its heels but the Pride defense stood strong and Utah missed the net on some good chances. The best opportunity of the game for either team came in the 89th minute. Good passing led to a Utah counter and Brittany Ratcliffe forced Ashlyn Harris into her only save of the game. Katie Stengel then should have ended the game but a poor shot was deflected out for a corner.
Two scary moments occurred at the end of the game, one for each team. Morgan landed hard on her left shoulder after a bad tackle from Gorry, for which the Aussie was booked. Morgan was able to stay in the game but was clearly in pain for the rest of the match and holding her left arm close to her side. For Utah, O’Hara looked to have a possible hamstring injury after she pulled up prior to Harris’ lone save on the night and she was immediately substituted out.
Utah out-shot Orlando, 13-4, but the Pride ended with more shots on target (2-1). The Royals also had the advantage on possession (57%), passing accuracy (72%-66%), and total passes (478-372).
Orlando is back in action again when the Pride conclude their road trip in Portland on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.