The Orlando Pride, still looking for that first win, came up short on Saturday in the 1-0 loss to Utah. The team’s effort on the defensive side of the ball was good, and oftentimes great, but it’s still the link-up play that is falling short on the offensive side.
Facing a fantastic defensive side like the Utah Royals is never an easy task, and even with finally getting a full week between games, the Pride often seemed just a bit too slow in breaking through that back line.
I’m feeling like most of you on these results, although I did expect a rough 2019. So maybe it’s with that in mind, my grades might come off a bit high this week considering the bigger picture remains pretty terrible — no wins, and one goal (by a defender). I do think this was the best 90 yet with, of course, a lot of work to do. Time to break it down.
GK, Haley Kopmeyer, 6 — Kop was just a step off on saving the lone goal in the match, and that will be the primary takeaway here. However, the rest of the shift was pretty great. A couple of soft saves, and then a solid 1-v-1 stop on Amy Rodriguez near the end of the first half. In the 64th minute, she had a great reaction save on Christen Press to keep the game within reach. A good night on her distribution, where we saw the ball get into the attack in the 36th, but Becky Sauerbrunn eventually put a stop to it.
D, Ali Krieger, 6 — Krieger had a great first half and a decent second half. In the former, Krieger was doing Krieger things like shutting down Press, and giving great looks forward offensively. The latter half, things cooled off a bit and she lacked her usual involvement. My favorite moment in this one was Krieger getting burned by Press in the 11th minute, recovering, and ripping the ball away in the box. Great effort as always.
D, Alanna Kennedy, 6 — Good outing from Kennedy. She did everything that I could ask for, with a couple of gaffes here and there, but with a handful of clearances and blocks, and half the team’s shots on goal, I thought it was a decent night. Her ability in the box on set pieces is always fun to watch, and she was maybe an inch from getting the second goal for her (and the Pride) on the season when Carson Pickett zipped a ball in the 73rd minute.
D, Shelina Zadorsky, 5.5 — I wasn’t a fan of the first 20 minutes. Zadorsky was allowing a bit too much time and space near the top of the box, which one moment led to the Utah goal. The difference in her approach after that was night and day. She would step up and close the attack down. Lo and behold, it made it difficult for Utah to produce anything after that.
D, Carson Pickett, 6.5 (PotM) — Defensively, I thought Pickett had one of her best nights in purple. There were a couple of huge interceptions that could have been very dangerous if she had not intervened. Her corners were almost always a threat, and her pressure on the ball was pretty solid, including a good moment where she dispossessed Press late in the first half. As mentioned just above, her effort in the 73rd was an inch away from making the game even. Even late in the game, she energetically continued to bomb up and down the side of the field. Unfortunately, a couple of key runs went ignored.
MF, Dani Weatherholt, 5 — Like the rest of the team, Weatherholt had a solid night pressing the ball, but I would like to see her occupy that empty space on the side of the field. Oftentimes she stays right in the middle, and when the ball is trying to get forward, if she moves to either side and becomes the third player, I think it would be easier on everyone to maintain possession.
MF, Emily van Egmond, 5 — To echo my notes on Weatherholt, I would like Van Egmond occupy those acres of wide open space on the sides to help possession, and since I consider her a bit more of an attacker compared to Weatherholt, I want her in or around the box every single time the team is on attack. She was there for a handful of chances, but often, there would be a lone attacker because the others were out wide trying to get the ball in.
MF, Chioma Ubogagu, 6 — Chi’s best match this year. The entire time she was on the field, she put amazing pressure on Utah, getting the ball back into the Pride’s possession. Offensively, she continues to put herself in good positions, but her final touch is always a mystery, or the pass is just a bit late.
F, Marta, 5.5 — Marta really looked worn out in this one. She’s played all 360 minutes this year, in a short period of time no less, and with all the ground she’s trying to cover, it is clearly taking a toll. She was grabbing her knees before the first half ended. This caused her to be a bit late at times in joining the attack. If Marta’s feet aren’t so heavy at the end of the first half, she puts that shot in a dangerous area and makes Nicole Barnhart work for it.
F, Alex Morgan, 6 — I think Alex dropping back to midfield worked out a little better Saturday night than in previous matches. We actually got a glimpse at some link-up play in the second half when she and Hill got together to get the ball forward. What I really appreciated in this one was her constant effort to win the ball in the air. Her touch to then put the ball at someone’s feet or in their path is always great to watch.
F, Rachel Hill, 5 — Definitely a step up from the last match for the young attacker. I’d like to see Hill in the box more often, especially when the attack is coming in from the opposite side. That far post was lonely way too much. With four starts to begin the year, she’s reached half her highest total, of eight, which was in 2017. So although there is still a lot of work to do, Hill is consistently getting time, with plenty more to come.
MF, Camila (59’), 5 — It took 20 minutes for Camila to get settled in and consistently involved, but when she did, she saw and completely ignored a bombing Pickett who had quite a bit of space, and immediately turned it over. She had a great back-heel pass to Morgan that got her forward. So, an average night for the first substitute for the Pride. I need to see her move like she’s been on the field for an hour less than the Utah players though. Camila was a bit slow on the night for me.
MF, Joanna Boyles (72’), 4.5 — Once Boyles was in, the Pride were actually holding possession in their half for most of the match, so she wasn’t all that involved. No egregious errors by the 2018 32nd overall draft pick, and she completed seven of nine passes.
MF, Marisa Viggiano (83’), N/A — Viggiano got to at least come in and run around for a bit. She made two promising runs that went ignored, and couldn’t even get some love on a Marta throw-in. I’m sure we’re about to get a better eye on what she can do in the future.
There you go, folks. You aren’t going to get “doom and gloom” from me, as my expectations were pretty low before the home opener. I want to see improvement as time goes on, and I think we got that against a tough team that has a stellar coach. I’m hurting for goals too, and we might not be out of the woods on that just yet, but we get to find out if it happens this Sunday when the Pride travel to Houston.
Now go ahead and get that vote for your Pride Player of the Match.
Who was your Pride Player of the Match in the 1-0 loss to the Utah Royals?
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