It’s been a tough go for the Orlando Pride in the NWSL since their debut season in 2016. In their inaugural home game, the Pride beat the Houston Dash 3-1 with 23,403 fans in attendance, a league record. Unfortunately, this momentum did not carry forward as they finished second-to-last in the table.
The Pride have played three seasons prior to 2019, and their best result was a third-place finish in 2017, when they lost to the Portland Thorns in the NWSL semifinals. Last year, Orlando finished seventh, and this year isn’t looking much better with the current 3-9-2 record.
Marta has done her part since rejoining the squad from the World Cup. The Brazilian has scored four goals in her last four matches, earning herself a spot in July’s Team of the Month. But the Pride need more assistance with a playoff birth still mathematically possible. With just 10 games to go in the regular season, finishing on a win streak could help propel the team into contention.
Who better to help the Pride taste success than Alex Morgan? The striker had an incredible summer with a World Cup victory but needs to shift her focus to the Pride.
Morgan has played just four games this season, and none of them have come after the World Cup in France. In 360 minutes played, she has no goals and just one shot on target, and until she returns to action those numbers aren’t going to get any better.
Last season, Morgan finished with five goals, one fewer than Sydney Leroux, who was the team’s leading goal scorer. Even then, her five goals were not enough to propel her side to a winning season.
There is no doubt that Alex has what it takes to put the ball in the back of the net. She’s among one of only seven women in the history of the USWNT to reach the century mark in goals. At the World Cup, she tied teammate Megan Rapinoe for six goals, tied for the most goals at the tournament, and only lost the Golden Boot due to the minutes played tiebreaker.
Morgan was brought to Orlando from Portland via trade in October of 2015 in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft (Emily Sonnett), the rights to Orlando’s first pick in the 2015 Expansion Draft (defender Meghan Klingenberg), and an international roster spot for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. She has only lived up to her lofty standards on occasion, such as during the 2017 NWSL season, when she scored nine goals to finish fifth in the league. She also finished 14th in the league in assists plus chances created that year with four assists and 21 chances created.
With Portland, Morgan scored 15 goals in 38 games, while with the Pride she has just three more goals after having played 14 more games.
Even if the Pride can’t reach a playoff spot, it’s important to improve as much as possible on the team’s current record. Marc Skinner is the Pride’s second ever coach and currently holds an inferior win percentage to his predecessor of three seasons, Tom Sermanni, though he is working through some roster issues and didn’t have nine of his top players for half the season.
The Pride need goals and wins, and Alex Morgan’s presence can help with that.