It was not the bounce back from the 2-0 loss to Portland that we, or the Pride, were looking for on the road Wednesday. Although the first 40 minutes looked like they just might be able to steal a point, maybe even three if they scored first and maintained order, but North Carolina went up a minute before the first half ended. From there, the Pride slowly unraveled and the Courage took every advantage given to them in a comprehensive 5-0 beating.
It’ll be hard not to repeat the same thing over and over during these grades, so I’ll get the obvious out of the way now. [Insert Player Name] played well in the first half, but became ineffective and disorganized after the second goal.
Let’s get through this and find our Pride Player of the Match.
GK, Ashlyn Harris, 6 — Five goals. So that’s what I’ll spend this space on. Watching and rewatching, I just don’t see how she could have done anything more on the first four. You could probably argue on her timing on the fifth and final goal, but it too took a deflection. I liked her choice of protecting the near post on the first goal, the second was a turnover in a horrible spot, the third goal took a deflection at point-blank range, the fourth was slotted perfectly in a chaotic crowd — it was just a mess. Aside from all of that, I thought once again, her distribution is an improvement over last year. Of the other eight saves, most were soft and didn’t call for the kind of heroics we witnessed against Portland, otherwise I’d probably give her another point.
D, Ali Krieger, 6 (PotM) — I always love a good battle, and I thought Ali versus Crystal Dunn was fun to watch. Early in the first half, she continued to give Jessica McDonald a bit too much space to operate, but the balls into the box were always cleared, so I’m not knocking her too hard on that. Offensively, she did what she always does, and that’s have great vision to get the ball into the attack. Once the Courage scored, she didn’t get forward much, and that left it to the midfield to build an attack. We’ll get to that.
D, Alanna Kennedy, 3.5 — She had several key blocks in the first half. North Carolina was relentless all match, but the game almost went into the half scoreless because of the work she was putting in to squash the attacks. I would have liked to see her commit to defending on that first goal, the second was a very poor pass on her part, and on the third goal, I want to see her more physical and either get the ball, or not allow such an easy header.
D, Shelina Zadorsky, 4.5 — Early on, Shelina was burned by McDonald, but she kept with her for the next 15 yards and eventually defended the cross. I’ve always liked that spirit from her and I don’t think she often gets the credit she deserves. She had a few good clearances and blocks, but that number dipped significantly in the second half, and I think a lot of that had to do with her getting too far forward. That could be the coach’s design, but either way, I’m not a fan.
D, Carson Pickett, 5 — Carson just couldn’t match the athleticism of McDonald and Dunn. That’s going to happen sometimes, when you face teams of this caliber. She did get forward a bit and have some decent-to-great balls into the attack. On the fourth goal, I think she should have been closer to her post. If that happens, I think she prevents that goal.
MF, Dani Weatherholt, 4.5 — Dani had a hard time getting her style to be effective. Th Courage are quick, and they move the ball even quicker, and that’s a great way to cancel out a player like her. One thing I always notice about the Pride is their lack of double teams. It seems they always get doubled when in possession, but rarely reciprocate. I think she’s a natural fit for this, and want to see her pounce more when she sees another teammate defending.
MF, Emily van Egmond, 5.5 — It was nice to see Emily back on the field. Before things became a disorganized mess, she was always finding space to make herself available for the ball. She had one of the best touches Wednesday night in my opinion. Her passes were rarely the bullets we are used to seeing, that bounce off the feet of the recipient. I don’t know if there is enough time to build the chemistry with the others and Marc Skinner’s system, but I hope we get to see what she’s capable of soon.
MF, Chioma Ubogagu, 5 — The announcers kept saying it, and I agree — Chi was a good link between the lines in the first half. Her touch is still clunky, but when in control, and playing on the left side, the ball found its way forward more times than not. Things got too cautious later on and her constantly playing the ball back is what started the mess that was the second goal. Decent pressing, I especially liked her taking the ball off of Dunn’s feet in the 15th minute.
F, Rachel Hill, 4.5 — Not just a tale of two halves, but a tale of two positions. When she was on the right, she was able to sneak behind and get in on the attack. Some quicker decision making and a softer final touch, she would have put at least one up on the board early. When she’d rotate to the left side, she just often disappeared from the game. I’m not a fan of the rotating, but my mind can be changed on it if I ever see it work.
F, Alex Morgan, 5.5 — A lot of talk has been going on about her giving up after Dunn dispossesses her, but ultimately, I don’t think that effects my grade, so let’s talk about everything else. We’ve watched games where Alex waits for service that never comes and those games are boring. So, I’ll say it was nice to see her drop back and try to unlock others. Her through ball to Hill in the 20th minute was beautiful, as were other key moments at the top of the attacking third. The one bad mark for me was the poor clearance on the fourth goal.
F, Marta, 5.5 — Marta was everywhere. It’s no secret how you play against her now, double-, triple-team her, knock her around, and she still keeps going. So the effort she always shows is undeniable. I think right now, everyone is still trying to figure out the plan, so her struggles on fluidly moving the ball forward are part of the team struggles to do so. I liked when she rotated to the left side and whipped in some dangerous crosses.
MF, Camila (73’), 4.5 — With 20 or so minutes left to play, she just didn’t get involved in any meaningful way. Then again, neither did any other Pride player. So here’s to hoping she’s getting healthy and ready to play a full 90.
MF, Kristen Edmonds, (81’) 4 — Even less of a showing from Edmonds. To be fair, I don’t think she’s ever been an impact sub. Especially this late in the game. I like to see her build up her rhythm and get comfortable. That’s when she shines.
Player of the Match was a hard one because no one specifically stood out. In the end, I went with Ali because she had the least going against her.
That’s a wrap. If you want to marinate in this loss, let’s do so below. If you are ready to forget about it and get ready for this Saturday, hey, no one here will blame you. But vote for your player of the match on your way out!
Who was your Pride Player of the Match in the 5-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage?
This poll is closed
Emily van Egmond
Other (comment below)