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Orlando Pride International Players Ready to Get Back Into NWSL Play

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After returning from France, the international players are diving right back into the Pride team.

Scott Carnevale, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride’s 2019 season, could be separated into three sections — pre-World Cup, World Cup, and post-World Cup. With the Women’s World Cup final tomorrow, the Pride are now (mostly) in the third and final stage, post-World Cup. The majority of the international players are back from France and are ready to finish the season on a strong note.

“Just to experience another World Cup was good, but obviously we bowed out a little earlier than we expected, so that was disappointing. But overall, I’m just grateful to have gone to another World Cup,” said Alanna Kennedy after training on Wednesday. “I think after I had a couple of days to regroup my body and my mind, as soon as I was on the flight back here and in Orlando, I just wanted to dive straight back into it. Saturday, couldn’t come quicker.”

Kennedy, along with midfielder Emily van Egmond, was part of the Australian team that got knocked out in the quarterfinals, where the Matildas lost 4-1 on penalty kicks to Norway. Kennedy and van Egmond started in all four matches and now the duo is back and training in full with the Pride.

“I haven’t really experienced too much jet lag,” Kennedy said. “I’ve jumped back in and adapted quickly. I just wanted to get back into it. My body feels pretty good, I’ve had a lighter session [Tuesday] and a massage, and now I’m sorta back into it, almost as if I never left.”

Kennedy played against her Orlando Pride teammate Marta in France against the Brazilians, although Camila did not play at all in the World Cup. Marta converted a penalty kick, and Brazil built a 2-0 lead. Australia was able to fight back to level it before former Pride defender Monica netted an own goal in the 66th minute to give the Matildas a 3-2 win.

Shelina Zadorsky is another Pride player who recently came back to Orlando. Her Canadian side finished second in Group E, as the defender played every minute for Canada in her first World Cup.

“[The World Cup] was amazing,” Zadorsky said. “Obviously, not the ending that I would have hoped for that Canadian side because I think that we had such a great squad. To play in my first World Cup in front of family and friends in a wonderful footballing country is such an honor and a great experience.”

To help the internationals get acclimated to the team again, Marc Skinner sat down with the returning players. He wanted to understand “what they learned from the World Cup and what they can bring in” to the team. He also sat down with them to discuss what the team has been doing during the World Cup.

Skinner stressed that the international players will obviously add quality to the team. More so, he is looking for them to add to what the team has been building on all season, saying that “it’s not just them that adds quality; everyone adds quality.”

“It’s been nice to have them all back,” Skinner said. “There are little nuances. Believe it or not, when you play a certain angle for a pass, it changes the way that that person wants to receive it. That’s only going to be ironed out through training and practice. But, as always, their characters are brilliant, and their playing ability is excellent anyway. Hopefully, it doesn’t take too long to integrate them back it.”

The internationals are all back in training now, save for Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, and Ashlyn Harris who will play in the final tomorrow and Claire Emslie. Those back in camp are expected to be available to play tonight, but Skinner says that it is up to the players to determine if they are ready.

“They should be all ready, I think,” Skinner said. “Whether we start them or not will be tactical decisions, but it all starts with whether they are ready to come in and perform. If we feel they’re ready and we feel they’ll add to the Washington game, then we will put them in.”