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Orlando Pride vs. Puerto Rico Sol: Final Score 5-0 as Pride Win Final Preseason Match

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Orlando can now focus on Portland in the Pride’s NWSL season opener.

Mark Thor, Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride played their final preseason game of the season and beat Puerto Rico Sol FC 5-0 in front of 2,137 fans in Orlando City Stadium. Orlando was clearly the better team and the visitors only had one shot on goal — a 40-yard shot that Haley Kopmeyer easily grabbed. Orlando held possession well, took players on in one-on-one situations, and quickly won the ball back when the Pride lost it.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful learning experience, which is exactly what I wanted,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the match. “I had no idea what the team would be like and they banked up with as many players as they could get behind the ball. And that is a wonderful challenge because first off, we didn’t meet that challenge. Second half, once we adjusted at halftime, I thought we were much better and that’s something to be really proud of.”

There were two words to describe the game: narrow and free-flowing. Skinner sent his team out in a 4-3-3, and, for the most part, Orlando stayed in that shape. However, players were constantly swapping positions with each other all game. Carson Pickett could often be found in the midfield, Danica Evans dropped to right back at one point, and Camila was just about everywhere on the field.

“I think if you’re a 90-minute player, or a sub off the bench and never play, I think you’re going to grow under Marc,” said Pickett. “I think he’s going to make us individually better and make the team much stronger than last year. I think that no matter what position you’re in you’re going to be rotated a ton, so you’re not stuck to one side. And I think, to be honest, as a defender my whole life, going into the midfield and forward line has already taught me so much more than I’ve ever learned in soccer.”

Skinner was very conscious about this player movement and it was a key point in what he sent his team out to do. There needed to be little tweaks, and there is still much work to be done to improve this system, but the player movement is going to continue.

“We work off principles, not positions,” said Skinner. “It’s about movement. We know that if somebody is in a static line the only way you can really get away is through width and rotation through the middle. Plus, if I’m a player that’s receiving the ball and you expect me to be there, and somebody else appears, how do you deal with that? That’s what we’re trying make the opposition think about what they're going to do.”

Orlando held possession well, and Puerto Rico Sol rarely got into the other half of the field. The Pride had many chances on goal, but the visitors fouled hard and often. Pickett took the majority of the set pieces, while Camila took some as well, but Orlando had trouble getting on the end of its services.

There was a scary moment in the 11th minute. Kopmeyer, who touched the ball just once at this point, went to the ground away from the ball. The training staff came on, and she was able to stay in the game.

The fouls ended up coming back to haunt Puerto Rico Sol, though. In the 42nd minute, Orlando won a corner. Pickett sent the ball in, and there was a collision in the box. The referee awarded a penalty kick and Camila buried it into the back of the net. The Pride took the 1-0 lead into halftime.

“[In the second half] we repositioned the players,” Skinner said. “We didn’t need as many players in defense. We pushed our fullbacks up a little higher, we kept more width — which meant they had to shuffle quickly. So, we had better connections, the passes were quicker, the details of the passes were quicker.”

There were a couple of more goals, and a lot fewer fouls in the second half. Rachel Hill nearly doubled the lead seconds into the second period. Camila used some nifty footwork to create separation between her and the defender. She put a cross into the box, but Hill just missed it.

About 10 minutes later, Evans should have scored. Her header was goal bound but Puerto Rico Sol goalkeeper Christina Holguin made a fantastic goal line save to keep the score 1-0.

Orlando finally got its second goal in the 59th minute. Erin Greening put the ball on a platter for Pickett, who was the farthest Pride player up the field. Pickett headed the ball into the bottom corner, out of the reach of Holguin. It hit the inside post and rolled in.

“Getting higher up the pitch is always fun for a defender,” said Pickett. “ that’s what Marc wants. It’s good because when I get high I have a lot of cover behind me, which I think other years when I've gotten high I've been left to sprint 50 yards back. So, it’s good to get up there and it’s good to know I have cover in the back.”

Just 13 minutes later, in the 72nd minute, Bridget Callahan made it 3-0. Hill played a good through ball, and Callahan was one-on-one with Holguin and passed it into the back of the net.

In the 83rd minute the Pride scored again, this time from Hill. Orlando used great ball movement to get Hill open in the box. The striker then dribbled around Holguin and scored into the open net.

Camila made it 5-0 three minutes later. She had time and space in the center of the field from about 25 yards out. She of course ripped it from that position and Holguin had no chance at keeping it out of the net.


With preseason now in the books, Orlando will look forward to its season opener next week. The Pride host Portland on Sunday, April 14 at 5 p.m. in Orlando City Stadium.