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Orlando Pride vs Portland Thorns: Player Grades and Player of the Match

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How did each player rate to start off the 2019 season?

Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride kicked off their fourth season on Sunday, and came out a bit slow and looking like deer caught in headlights. As they entered the middle of the second half, things started to settle, but it wasn’t enough and the 2-0 loss resulted as the final seconds ticked away.

Nonetheless, welcome back Pride fans! I’m glad to be back, and glad to have you around to talk about all the things we saw. If you are new, feel free to chime in, especially if you disagree. I’ll make it apparent time and time again, if your perspective was different, I want to hear about it!

One last thing of note: I do things a bit differently. A five is my average rating. A four might look harsh, but it’s just below average, as a six is just above average. Ideally, a player will get their best score for their best game, so I tend to be a bit conservative at the start of the season, hoping we haven’t seen the best of a player yet, especially this first match. Without further delay, I’ll break it down and find my player of the match.

Starters

GK, Ashlyn Harris, 7.5 (POTM) — It didn’t take long for Harris to come up big. In the fourth minute, she touched a Christine Sinclair screamer over the bar, and from there, she didn’t relent. She made save after save up until just before the first half whistle. At that moment, Caitlin Foord slotted it home in a crowded box. A few minutes into the second half, a lack of urgency by the Pride defenders gave Tobin Heath a brief moment to put a brilliant flick on the ball that spun it out of Ashlyn’s reach. Last year, I was typically critical of her ball movement, but in this first game, I thought she was pretty consistent. All of this was enough for her to take Player of the Match for me.

D, Ali Krieger, 6.5 — Early, Heath was giving Krieger a hard time, and I thought she was a step off defensively, but it was largely a “bend, don’t break” style, and after about 20 minutes, she was commanding that side better. Offensively, she had a handful of great long balls that, on any other day, would have resulted in a goal or two.

D, Joanna Boyles, 5.5 — Boyles was drafted 32nd overall in 2018 by the Boston Breakers. Well, we know how that worked out, and she spent last year on Chicago’s reserve squad. For her professional debut against the likes of Foord, Sinclair, Heath, and Lindsey Horan, she was pretty solid. Early on, I thought she was great, winning 50/50s, making Heath miss big on a tackle, and getting the ball to midfield. It was just a few times where I didn’t see urgency, and two of those times, the Thorns’ possession led to goals.

D, Shelina Zadorsky, 6.5 — Shelina would have been my Player of the Match if not for the poor back pass that led to the first goal. Portland was relentless in the attack, and as many as Harris stopped, the Canadian international was right there too, blocking and snuffing out several attacks. She also had several passes that sprung the team offensively. If not for that particular error in judgement, it would have been a very decent night for number four.

D, Carson Pickett, 5.5 — I didn’t see a lot from Carson defensively, as Portland generally flows through Heath on the other side of the field, but she was always there to help maintain possession. I think she has a good eye for getting the ball forward, but was sometimes slow to see the run. Hopefully this works out as the season goes on.

MF, Rachel Hill, 5.5 — Rachel would go silent for portions of the match, and then show up at the perfect time to put you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, she was always a step behind in the attack in key moments. There were two crosses from Marta that were just a step away from being goals for Hill. She had great hustle though, and kept rushing Portland’s decision making, which went a long way.

MF, Dani Weatherholt, 5.5 — There were some bright moments from one of my 2018 favorites, but it all seemed to pale compared to what we are used to, so that’s why I settled on just above average. Occasionally, there was some awesome pressure from her, and she had a great clearance in the 43rd that sprung the offense, but there just seemed to be, yet again, a lack of urgency from time to time.

MF, Bridget Callahan, 5.5 — Yet another 5.5 from me. I thought she was pretty great on the ball, but lacked awareness on defense from time to time. In the first half alone, Horan came close to having a field day, settling right into her space and taking the shot from outside the box. There was quite a bit of promise though, and I loved her calm demeanor on the ball.

MF, Marta, 6 — Marta seemed a bit off to me. Not because of the result, or lack of shots even, but she just didn’t reach those Marta heights for most of the match. She did have an almost brilliant 1-v-5 late in the game that would have been amazing, but it was too much, even for her. She was close to a couple of assists — the already mentioned Hill ones, and another to Camila, that wasn’t even placed on frame — so, like a few others, she was on the brink of having a great match.

F, Chioma Ubogagu, 4 — Several of my notes are along the lines of “poor final touch” or “dribbling with her head down, misses open player.” She is great at putting herself in position to do something or be a part of something dangerous, but pretty much none of it worked out Sunday evening.

F, Alex Morgan, 6.5 — Alex was a few inches away from having a great night. That’s sometimes how it goes, unfortunately. Besides being a part of a consistent long ball threat, she would often drop back and do a bit of creating herself. In the 18th, she could have gotten an assist when she warded off a Portland defender and got the ball to Chi’s feet, but Chi took a second to fire it off and it was blocked. She also did some solid work on the defensive side of the ball.

Substitutes

MF, Camila (65’), 4.5 — A few minutes in, Camila had the chance to make a huge impact when Marta put the ball right at her feet for a nearly wide open shot, and she couldn’t get it on frame. After that, she faded away a bit and was never really a threat again. The all-time leader for the Pride in yellow cards kept a firm grip on that title by collecting another in stoppage time.

MF, Erin Greening (74’), 4.5 — One minute in, with her second touch, she passed it right to Heath, who almost chipped it over Harris for another goal. She did have a great interception late in the game, and got the ball to Camila. Aside from that, there wasn’t much action from her the rest of the night.

MF, Kristen Edmonds (76’), 4.5 — Edmonds brought some great energy to the pitch, and played a bit more aggressively than usual, which I thought was great. She had a fantastic chance in the closing minutes to bring some excitement to the crowd but sent a ball from inside the box right over the top of a wide open net.


There it is, folks. It was definitely not the opener we wanted, but we are blessed (yes, blessed!) with a short turnaround and get to right all the wrongs on Wednesday night with a trip up to North Carolina. Now vote for your Player of the Match and let me hear all about it in the comments below!


Poll

Who was your Pride Player of the Match in Orlando’s 2-0 loss to Portland on Sunday night?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Ashlyn Harris
    (23 votes)
  • 6%
    Shelina Zadorsky
    (2 votes)
  • 12%
    Ali Krieger
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    Alex Morgan
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Other (comment below)
    (1 vote)
32 votes total Vote Now