Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride take on the Houston Dash. This is the third and final meeting between these teams this season. The Pride (7-5-4, 25 points) can regain second place in the NWSL with a win and help from Utah getting a result against Seattle. Houston (4-6-5, 17 points) is eight points out of a playoff position and must start a winning streak to have any hope of making the postseason.
Prior to the season, the Pride held a narrow 4-2-0 advantage in the all-time series. Thanks to the teams splitting the games this year, Orlando still has the edge, 5-3-0. Back on April 22, Orlando and Houston met, with both teams aiming for their first win. The Pride went 0-2-1 to start their 2018 campaign and Houston was 0-1-2. It was a sloppy game that was without many star players — Alanna Kennedy, Marta, Emily van Egmond, Poliana, and Monica were on international duty and Camila was still injured — but Chioma Ubogagu got on the end of a free kick to help the Pride to a 1-0 win.
Houston got revenge on June 27. In the 12th minute, Alex Morgan worked hard to earn a penalty kick but missed the take. Fortunately for her, Morgan scored in the 22nd minute on a weird play that saw the assistant referee erroneously raising the flag on a ball played backward to Shelina Zadorsky by the Dash, but the referee never called the play dead. The Pride looked as if they were going to take the three points but Houston scored two goals in the 79th and 83rd minutes on a wayward cross that found the net and a penalty for a handball on Monica to scrape out a victory.
The teams split their two meetings last year, with the Dash getting their first win in Orlando on June 24, 2017, by a score of 2-0. Current Pride defender Poliana was then a part of the Dash and assisted on both goals to Carli Lloyd and Rachel Daly. Orlando took the first clash of 2017 with a 4-2 win in which Marta scored or assisted on each of Orlando’s goals.
Orlando won the first three of the four meetings in 2016 by a combined score of 5-1, including a 3-1 win in the Pride’s first ever home match, and a pair of 1-0 victories. Houston got its first win in the series with a 4-2 win at home on Sept. 3 of that season as part of the Pride’s eight-match winless streak to close the year.
The Pride begin a multi-game week tonight and finish the week by traveling to Utah. With eight games remaining in the season, and second through sixth places separated by just five points, Orlando cannot afford to drop many more points. Tonight is a perfect opportunity for the Pride to get back up the standings before facing Utah and Seattle.
Orlando finished a three-game home stand with a 2-1 win against Washington. The Pride put up 31 shots, putting 12 of them on target. Sydney Leroux got her fifth goal of the year — a team high — and Marta added an NWSL Goal of the Week with her 86th-minute winner. After two home losses in a disappointing home stretch, that game felt like a must-win to Tom Sermanni and his team delivered.
A key for the Pride will be to slow down Sofia Huerta. The 25-year-old joined Houston in a three-way trade a few weeks ago and has since added two goals and an assist in three games — including the game winner against Orlando. The Pride will also need to stop Daly, who leads the Dash with four goals.
Daly is joined by midfielder Amber Brooks, defender Janine van Wyk, and goalkeeper Jane Campbell as the only Houston players who have played every minute in the 2018 NWSL season. Brooks leads the team in passes, van Wyk has the most clearances, and Daly, in addition to goals, leads Houston with 872 touches — 114 more than the next player.
The good news for Orlando is that although these players are difficult to slow down, Houston has one of the worst goal differentials in the NWSL. Its 24 goals allowed is the second-worst in the league, behind Sky Blue FC, and the Pride should look to play a free flowing attacking game and create as many goal scoring opportunities as possible. The starting XI will not be the best XI that Sermanni has because of an important game on Saturday. In addition, Morgan is still on the injury list, albeit just as questionable, with a right calf strain. As for Houston, only Kristie Mewis is listed, who has a season-ending ACL sprain.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky, Monica, Poliana.
Midfielders: Camila, Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Marta, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Toni Pressley, Kristen Edmonds, Chioma Ubogagu, Emily van Egmond, Christine Nairn, Rachel Hill.
Houston Dash (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Jane Campbell.
Defenders: Allysha Chapman, Janine van Wyk, Amber Brooks, Taylor Comeau.
Defensive Midfielders: Clare Polkinghorne, Linda Motlhalo.
Attacking Midfielders: Kealia Ohai, Sofia Huerta, Kyah Simon.
Forward: Rachel Daly.
Bench: Bianca Henninger, Lindsay Agnew, Haley Hanson, Savannah Jordan, Thembi Kgatlana, Veronica Latsko, Nichelle Prince.
REF: Christina Unkel.
AR1: Mattew Osterhouse.
AR2: Andrea Jedele.
4TH: Patrick Baker.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium — Houston, TX.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.), go90.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!