Welcome to your match thread for today’s match-up between the Orlando Pride (8-9-6, 30 points) and Sky Blue FC (0-17-6, 6 points). The completion of this afternoon’s game marks the end of the Pride’s 2018 campaign, after Orlando failed to make the postseason.
Orlando is 3-2-2 against Sky Blue in the all-time series, with a draw coming in the previous game. That match, which ended 2-2, required Dani Weatherholt to kick-start a comeback. The match started out slowly and was scoreless at halftime. At the beginning of the second half, Marta put away a rebound after Weatherholt’s shot hit the post. Two minutes later, Imani Dorsey tied the game and six minutes after that Shea Groom gave Sky Blue its first lead of the season in any match. This prompted Tom Sermanni to immediately bring on Alex Morgan and Camila. In the 73rd minute, Camila drew a foul but Weatherholt got on the end of it and the referee played advantage and somehow Weatherholt put the ball in the back of the net. Orlando kept pressing and it looked like the Pride might find a way to get all three puts but Marta missed a penalty kick in stoppage time and that was all she wrote.
The last time that the Pride beat Sky Blue was a 3-2 result on June 16 of this season. Rachel Hill scored the game winner after coming on in the 60th minute and Sydney Leroux recorded a first-half brace. Sky Blue tied it up twice but Sermanni brought in Marta in the 73rd minute and the Brazilian took control of the game and did all the buildup for the game-winner by herself.
The teams met three times last season. The Pride fell 2-1 in the first trip to New Jersey in 2017. Jasmyne Spencer scored early, but Sam Kerr and Maya Hayes each scored to give Sky Blue the win. A month later, the Pride came from behind to win the second meeting, 3-2. The final meeting was no contest as the Pride broke their goal record in a 5-0 rout, as Morgan and Marta each recorded a brace and an assist and Weatherholt also got on the board in what was Maddy Evans’ final appearance.
In 2016, the two clubs played twice. The Pride earned their first-ever draw in a 1-1 deadlock on the road on Sept. 7, 2016. Morgan scored 22 minutes in and Ashlyn Harris defended the net heroically but Kerr equalized less than 10 minutes from the whistle. Three days later, Sky Blue captured a 2-1 comeback win at Camping World Stadium in the rematch. Kristen Edmonds scored first but Kerr and Hayes beat Harris to fuel the comeback.
As far as the NWSL standings go, this match means absolutely nothing. For the individual teams it should mean a lot. Sky Blue has yet to win a game and will want at least one on the season. For Orlando, after a disappointing season, everyone’s place on the team — players and coaches, alike — are in jeopardy and they need to prove their worth starting right now.
Both Sky Blue and Orlando lost their previous matches — both of these games were against Chicago and the Red Stars outscored Sky Blue and the Pride by a combined 8-1. Kerr had a field day against Orlando, providing two goals and an assist in a 3-1 match that officially eliminated the Pride from playoff contention. The New Jersey side looked even worse though and Alyssa Mautz, Kerr, Rosie White and Michele Vasconcelos all found the back of the net in a 5-0 rout.
“There’s two things [I’d like to see on Saturday]: a positive performance and a win. That’s it in a nutshell,” Sermanni said. “You never know how seasons are going to pan out but at the end of the day you’ve got to go out and perform as a professional. We need to do that. We need to do that as a staff, we need to do that as a team and we need to do that as individual players.”
Sermanni will be happy to have the Pride’s leading goal scorer return to action. Leroux played in just 29 minutes in the last four matches due to an illness and injury. The one game that she featured in she came in as a substitute in the second half but had to then be subbed out.
Orlando will be without FIFA Women’s Player of the Year finalist, Marta. The Brazilian sustained a left hamstring strain and will be forced to sit out the final game of the season. Sky Blue will be missing Mandy Freeman (left quad strain) and Rebekah Stott (lower back strain), while McKenzie Meehan (right hamstring strain) is listed as questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Midfielders: Christine Nairn, Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Ashlyn Harris, Kristen Edmonds, Danica Evans, Camila, Emily van Egmond, Poliana, Rachel Hill.
Sky Blue FC (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan.
Defenders: Madison Tiernan, Dominique Richardson, Erica Skroski, Christina Gibbons.
Midfielders: Imani Dorsey, Sarah Killion, Raquel Rodriguez, Savannah McCaskill.
Forwards: Carli Lloyd, Shea Groom,
Bench: Caroline Casey, Amandine Pierre-Louis, Jen Hoy, Katie Johnson, McKenzie Meehan, Amanda Frisbie,
REF: Malik Badawi.
AR1: Jeffrey Swartzel.
AR2: Tyler Wyrostek.
4TH: Szczepan Dziewa.
How to Watch
Match Time: 12 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Yurcak Field — Piscataway, NJ.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.).
Match Thread Rules
This is your live thread for posting comments on the match. So use our comments section below to talk about the game in real time with other supporters. If you’re new, welcome to our happy home! While you’re here, please observe a few basic rules:
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!