Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (1-7-2, 5 points) host the Chicago Red Stars (3-4-2, 11 points) tonight at Exploria Stadium. This is the first of three scheduled matches between the teams for the 2019 season, with the Pride heading up to the Windy City on Wednesday, Aug. 21, and the Red Stars returning to Orlando on Wednesday, Sept. 11.
The Pride are just 2-5-1 in the all-time series, but won two of the three meetings last season. In the first five meetings, Orlando went winless but every game was decided by no more than one goal. The first three games were 1-0 score lines, followed by a 2-1 game where the Red Stars went up two goals before Alanna Kennedy scored in the 93rd minute.
After losing the first four games against Chicago, Alex Morgan’s 24th-minute goal on Aug. 5 of 2017 looked to finally be the edge that Orlando needed to beat Chicago. However, Sofia Huerta scored shortly after halftime to salvage a draw and keep the Pride winless against the Red Stars at that point.
Last season, Orlando earned its first victory against the Red Stars, and scored more than one goal against Chicago for the first time, on May 2, 2018. Chioma Ubogagu scored early, with an assist from Sydney Leroux. Rachel Hill came in off the bench and brought a spark to the Pride which enabled them to finish off the Red Stars, 2-0.
A few weeks later, the Pride exploded offensively and downed Chicago, 5-2. Hill and Morgan scored early to give the Pride a 2-0 lead but Sam Kerr (who else?) brought Chicago back into it. Kerr scored a brace — both were assisted by Yuki Nagasato — but the Pride bounced right back. Kerr tied the game in the 60th minute and Leroux, who came on in the 52nd minute for Marta, opened her Pride account in the 61st. Two minutes later, Leroux got her brace.
In the most recent meeting, the Red Stars eliminated the Pride from the playoff race last Aug. 25. Kerr’s brace led Chicago to a 3-1 win, with Vanessa Di Bernardo adding a goal for the Red Stars and Morgan scoring off a Marta assist to at least avoid the shutout.
The Orlando Pride enter tonight’s game on a meager two-game unbeaten streak (1-0-1) after winning for the first time in 2019 at Sky Blue FC. The Pride eked out a 2-1 win in New Jersey eight days ago, just one week after earning a 2-2 draw at Houston. All five of Orlando’s points this season have come away from Exploria Stadium, so it would be nice if the home fans got to see the Pride get a result.
Last weekend provided Marc Skinner’s first NWSL win and his first two-match points streak since taking the helm of the Pride. He’ll look to improve upon that tonight and start his first winning streak.
Orlando pulled ahead of Sky Blue into eighth place last weekend, which is only one spot below Chicago. The Red Stars have lost their last three games in a row, without scoring a goal in any of them, and are 1-2-1 away from Seat Geek Stadium. Skinner said he expects a difficult match, which is made even worse with Kerr’s return from international duty (she is not listed on this week’s international absences).
“I think Chicago is a great team, there’s no doubt about it. They’re going to be a hard, tough opposition, but the last game I saw personality [from the Pride]. I saw a team that wanted to get on the ball under pressure situations and play out,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “We’ll see a team that wants to play, a team that wants to dictate possession and play, and that’s what my teams will do. That’s my identity as a coach so I hope that’s what we see on Sunday and that we actually take it to a quality team and show people who we are.”
Despite Kerr’s apparent return to Chicago, Orlando’s Australians were on the international absences list sent out by the NWSL on Friday. Also still out are Claire Emslie and Shelina Zadorsky, despite their countries’ World Cup departures. Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger are with the USWNT, preparing for a semifinal showdown with England. You can add midfielder Dani Weatherholt to tonight’s absences, as she deals with a foot injury. Kristen Edmonds (knee) is questionable. The lone good news is that Marta and Camila are confirmed available for selection.
Chicago will be missing AJ Jahansouz (right knee) and Alyssa Mautz (right knee) to injury, and Morgan Brian, Tierna Davidson, Julie Ertz, and Alyssa Naeher to international duty with the U.S. Katie Naughton (left hip) and Arin Wright (right ankle) are questionable.
The trick, as usual, will be trying to control Kerr and making sure not to fall asleep on balls over the top while she’s making runs. The Australian superstar has tormented Orlando’s back line for the last few years and that’s when all the starters were available. She’ll fancy her chances against a center back pairing of Morgan Reid and Toni Pressley and the Red Stars probably feel like they won’t be shut out for a fourth consecutive game. After all, Orlando has allowed a league-high 21 goals this season and the Pride have not kept a clean sheet.
On the flip side, the Red Stars have conceded the second-most amount of goals this season, with 14 (tied with Sky Blue). Hopefully the Chicago defense is one that Marta and company can exploit.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Morgan Reid, Erin Greening.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Bridget Callahan. Joanna Boyles.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Rachel Hill, Marta.
Bench: Lainey Burdett, Abby Elinsky, Hana Kerner, Caitlin Farrell, Danica Evans, Camila, Alika Keene.
Chicago Red Stars (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Emily Boyd.
Defenders: Arin Wright, Sarah Gorden, Katie Naughton, Casey Short.
Midfielders: Nikki Stanton, Danielle Colaprico, Vanessa DiBernardo, Yuki Nagasato.
Forwards: Michele Vasconcelos, Sam Kerr.
Bench: Brooke Elby, Maria Sanchez, Megan Hinz, Katlyn Johnson, Kayla Sharples, Zoey Goralski, Savannah McCaskill,
Ref: Jasmine Peralta.
AR1: Trent Robert Van Haitsma.
AR2: Tiffini Turpin.
4th: Gabriele Giusti.
How to Watch
Match Time: 5 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
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).
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!