Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (2-9-2, 8 points) take on Sky Blue FC (2-7-2, 8 points) at Exploria Stadium. This is the second of three meetings between the two teams this season, with the final match to be played on Sept. 29 in New Jersey.
The all-time series between Orlando and the New Jersey side was tied entering 2019. However, the Pride won the first meeting of the year and now hold the slight advantage, 4-3-2.
The Pride won the last time the teams met, on June 22, 2-1. Orlando entered the game riding a 15-match winless streak that dated back to 2018. Sky Blue dominated for the majority of the match and led in almost every statistical category — shots (21-6), shots on target (5-3), corners (4-2), passes (487-399), and possession (56%-44%). However, Orlando won a penalty kick just after the half-hour mark, when Elizabeth Eddy was called for a hand ball. Chioma Ubogagu easily converted and the Pride took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Sarah Killion converted a penalty kick in the second half, and then Marisa Viggiano created the game-winning goal — a Sky Blue own goal — in the 81st minute.
The Pride only beat Sky Blue once in 2018. That win came on June 16, when the Orlando edged out the New Jersey side, 3-2. Sydney Leroux recorded a first-half brace, and Rachel Hill scored the late game-winner.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw on Aug. 5, that year as well. 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 Shea Groom gave Sky Blue its first lead of the season in any match. In the 73rd minute, Camila drew a foul during a run into the box. The referee played advantage when Weatherholt ended up with the ball, and she put the ball in the back of the net. Marta missed what would have been the game-winning penalty in stoppage time.
Orlando had the edge in 2017. 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 NWSL is entering its final stage this weekend. The World Cup is over, all the international players are back, and there is a considerable buzz surrounding the NWSL and women’s soccer. When asked what he is expecting about the game, one of the things Head Coach Marc Skinner said was a bigger crowd.
“I think Sky Blue will play a 4-1-4-1 formation,” Skinner also said. “When we played them, I was really impressed with them. I was impressed with the way they try to play. They get caught at times, but you’re going to in this league. They’ll try and play. They’ll try and sit, counter attack us into the spaces because we’ll be attacking so they’ll try and exploit. They tried to exploit us wide last time, so we need to be aware of that. But I just think we have to put on a show for our fans.”
Orlando lost to Portland in its last game, 4-3. The Pride were outplayed for most of the match, but made a game of it in the end. Skinner started the game upstairs in a box, but went back down to the field after about 30 minutes . He said the reason he went down to the field was that he told the players that they “need to tackle more.” He said he will “potentially” be back in a box tonight “because they are going to tackle this week.”
The Pride went down early because of a mistake from Haley Kopmeyer, and then Portland went up 2-0 after another error from the goalkeeper. Then the game got interesting. Marta scored to make it 2-0. Christine Sinclair made it 3-1, and then Marta forced an Emily Menges own goal and Erin Greening scored to tie the game at three in the 90th minute. Meghan Klingenberg took a perfect corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time, and Tyler Lussi, who was completely unmarked, headed it into the back of the net with the last touch of the ball in the match to give Portland the win.
Sky Blue beat the Utah Royals 1-0 in its last game in front of just 1,842 fans. It was Sky Blue’s first home win in 2019, as Jen Hoy scored the game-winning goal in the 92nd minute.
Raquel Rodriguez will likely be the biggest threat for Sky Blue and Orlando is fortunate that Carli Lloyd will not play (excused absence). Rodriguez has three goals and an assist this season and has started in every game. The Pride will also have to watch out for Hoy, who has scored in the past two games. In addition to Lloyd, Mandy Freeman (right Achilles tendon repair), Madison Tiernan (left ACL/MCL repair), and Domi Richardson (left ankle) are out.
Orlando will be without Sydney Leroux (maternity leave) and Bridget Callahan (concussion). Kristen Edmonds (knee) and Alex Morgan (knee) are both listed as questionable; however, it is unlikely that either will play. It is also unlikely that Claire Emslie will play as she just had her physical on Wednesday and her first practices with the Pride on Thursday and Friday.
Expected to start, though, are Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris. Both players were practicing since returning from France earlier this week and looked as if they never left. Both are exciting to be back and play for Orlando.
“I think the girls have said that it’s just night and day having us back,” Krieger said. “That’s really good to hear and I’m really happy to have that much of an impact just right away.”
If the Pride win tonight, they will remain in eight place. However, if Sky Blue wins, they will jump ahead of Orlando and the Pride will fall to last.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Erin Greening,Toni Pressley, Shelina Zadorsky, Ali Krieger.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Alanna Kennedy, Joanna Boyles.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Carson Pickett, Dani Weatherholt, Abby Elinsky, Camila, Claire Emslie, Emily van Egmond.
Sky Blue FC (4-5-1)
Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan.
Defenders: Erica Skroski, Estelle Johnson, Gina Lewandowski, Caprice Dydasco.
Midfielders: Imani Dorsey, Sarah Killion, Julie James, Elizabeth Eddy, Paige Monaghan.
Forwards: Raquel Rodriguez.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Kaylan Marckese, Amandine Pierre-Louis, Kenie Wright, Nahomi Kawasumi, Sabrina Flores, Jennifer Hoy.
REF: Danielle Chesky.
AR1: Kali Smith.
AR2: Meghan Mullen.
4TH: Jamie Willis.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!