Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-7-2, 2 points) take on Sky Blue FC (0-6-2, 2 points) at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, NJ. This is the first of three scheduled matches between the teams for the 2019 season, with the New Jersey club visiting Exploria Stadium on Saturday, July 20, and the Pride returning to Yurcak Field on Sunday, Sept. 29 in their final road game.
The all-time series between Orlando and the New Jersey side is tied 3-3-2. Orlando held the slim lead heading into the last game of 2018. Sky Blue had been winless all season up to that point, but Shea Groom connected with Carli Lloyd in the 74th minute for the lone goal of the match. The win gave Sky Blue its only of the season and continued the Pride’s winless streak. Orlando ended the season going its final six games without a win.
On Aug. 5 of last year, the teams played to a 2-2 draw. After a scoreless first half, Marta put away a rebound after Dani Weatherholt’s shot hit the post at the beginning of the second half. Two minutes later, Imani Dorsey tied the game and six minutes after that Groom gave Sky Blue its first lead of the season in any match. In the 73rd minute, Camila drew a foul, but Weatherholt got on the end of it. The referee played advantage, and somehow Weatherholt put the ball in the back of the net. Marta missed what would have been the game-winning penalty in stoppage.
It has been over a calendar year since Orlando last beat Sky Blue. That is the longest time out of all NWSL teams. That win came on June 16, 2018 when the Pride won 3-2. Sydney Leroux recorded a first-half brace and Rachel Hill scored the late game-winner.
In 2017, Orlando had the edge. The Pride lost the first meeting, but then followed that up by winning the next two matches by a combined score of 8-2. In Orlando’s inaugural season the teams played in back-to-back games, and Orlando failed to win either. The teams drew 1-1 on Sept. 7, 2016 — the first draw in Pride history — and then Sky Blue won 2-1 three days later.
The Orlando Pride enter tonight’s game riding a 15-match winless streak. The last win for the Pride was back on July 14, 2018, against the Utah Royals. Still, there has been slow progress this season and Orlando is coming off just its second draw of 2019.
The Pride tied the Houston Dash a week ago, with Joanna Boyles opening the scoring on a free kick in the 13th minute. For the first time all season, Orlando held the lead in halftime, 1-0, but the Dash scored two unanswered after the break. Danica Evans scored the equalizer just minutes after she entered the match, and the game ended 2-2.
Sky Blue comes into the match in almost as bad shape as the Pride. With just two draws on the season and no wins, the New Jersey side is on a four-match winless streak. Every match in those games has been decided by just one goal. In Sky Blue’s most recent game, the Utah Royals won 1-0 off of Amy Rodriguez’s NWSL Goal of the Week in the 16th minute.
“I think [Sky Blue] will be very, very structured,” Marc Skinner said. “I think they press effectively when it comes into zones so you’ve got to be able to impact that by getting in between their lines and playing quickly. If you do that, I think you can cause them a real problem. If you don’t then they are structured, they’re organized, and they’ll counter-attack on you, and that’s what I’m expecting. I think we have to be resilient again, but we also have to find our creative form to get between players, get around them, and then punish them going forward.”
With the international players out, Orlando has lacked creativity up front. Boyles has been one of Orlando’s best players in recent weeks, and Skinner will again look to the midfielder to provide a spark.
For Sky Blue, Raquel “Rocky” Rodriguez is the player to watch. Rodriguez has scored two goals and added an assist this season — the most points of any Sky Blue player. She has started in all eight matches and should be a focal point again tonight.
Obviously, both teams are impacted by the World Cup. The home team is without Carli Lloyd, Estelle Johnson, and Kailen Sheridan, while the Pride will be missing Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris, Alanna Kennedy, Emily Van Egmond, Marta, Camila, Shelina Zadorsky, and Claire Emslie. Sydney Leroux is the only other Pride player out, but Sky Blue will be missing Mandy Freeman (right achilles tendon repair), Madison Tiernan (left ACL/MCL sprain), and Domi Richardson (left ankle). Further hampering Sky Blue is the recent trade of Savannah McCaskill to the Chicago Red Stars for draft picks.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Morgan Reid, Erin Greening.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Joanna Boyles, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Danica Evans, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Lainey Burdett, Abby Elinsky, Hana Kerner, Taylor Porter, Caitlin Farrell, Bridget Callahan, Alika Keene.
Sky Blue FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Didi Haracic.
Defenders: Caprice Dydasco, Gina Lewandowski, Erica Skroski, Sabrina Flores.
Midfielders: Raquel Rodriguez, Sarah Killion, Nahomi Kawasumi.
Forwards: Imani Dorsey, Jennifer Hoy, Elizabeth Eddy.
Bench: Paige Monaghan, Julie James, Kaylan Marckese, Gabi Morais, Amandine Pierre-Louis, Kenie Wright.
Ref: Rebecca Pagan.
AR1: Meghan Mullen.
AR2: Ben Pilgrim.
4th: Jared Simons.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. ET.
Venue: Yurcak Field — Piscataway, NJ.
Streaming: Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and on The Mane Land’s Twitter (@TheManeLand).
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!