Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (4-13-2, 14 points) host the Chicago Red Stars (10-8-2, 32 points). This is the third and final meeting between the teams this season. The Pride sit in last place and could climb one spot to eighth with a win. A win for the Red Stars could put them in second.
The Pride are just 3-6-1 in the all-time series against Chicago, with all three of those wins coming on the road in the last three trips to SeatGeek Stadium. While Chicago has gotten the better of the Pride in the majority of the matches so far, only once in the all-time series have the Pride lost by more than one goal. 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 on July 22, 2017, when the Red Stars went up two goals before Alanna Kennedy scored in the 93rd minute.
The Red Stars took the first match of the series this season. On June 30, Sam Kerr scored a hat trick and the Pride lost 3-2. Chioma Ubogagu scored in the 22nd minute and Marta added a second from the spot. But the story of the game was Orlando turnovers. Kerr did not have to work hard for her goals, as the Pride gifted her the ball in dangerous areas.
The Pride evened the season series in the last match. Rachel Hill and Ubogagu each scored a goal and provided an assist for the other, building the Pride lead to 2-0. Tierna Davidson got one back in the sixth minute of stoppage time but it was not enough to mount a comeback and Orlando won 2-1.
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. Ubogagu scored early, with an assist from Sydney Leroux. 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 Kerr (who else?) brought Chicago back into it. Kerr scored a brace — both were assisted by Yuki Nagasato — but the Pride bounced right back. After Kerr tied the game at 2-2 in the 60th minute, Leroux opened her Pride account in the 61st. Two minutes later, Leroux got her brace. Dani Weatherholt also scored for Orlando.
The Pride enter tonight's match with the playoffs officially out of sight. Orlando is 17 points behind fourth-place Utah Royals FC with just five game remaining. The Pride finished 2018 with 30 points, so it is also impossible for Orlando to have a better season than last year.
It is a completely different story for the Red Stars. Chicago sits in third place, just four points behind the first-place Portland Thorns, with the goal of winning the league. Chicago is, of course, led by superstar Kerr. The Australian leads the league in goals, and has six more than second-place Christine Sinclair.
“Obviously we’ve played them recently so we kind of know what to expect,” Marc Skinner said in a club press release. “They’ve got one of the best forwards in the world and she’s right in form again so we need to make sure that we neutralize her. That will be a tough ask but I trust the players to be able to do that.
“It’ll be a tough game but I think there’s something we learned from last time, if you can perform with style of play then you have a good chance of taking the result. I think that was probably our best performance and resilience of the season last time so I’m hoping for a similar kind of performance with maybe a bit more of an attacking threat.”
Orlando will have to rely on different players to step up this match. In the last meeting, Hill and Ubogagu each got a goal and an assist. Ubogagu is no longer on the team. Alex Morgan and Kennedy both started but will miss tonight through injury. Morgan didn't last very long in that match anyway though, as she was knocked into Sarah Gorden by Julie Ertz and went into concussion protocol. Morgan cleared concussion protocol while with the USWNT but experienced a flare-up in her troublesome knee.
The Pride’s injury report looks similar to last match. Leroux (maternity leave), Toni Pressley (45-day DL), Emily van Egmond (left ankle surgery), Morgan (knee), and Marta (left hamstring) are all out. Chicago will be without four players — Arin Wright (illness), Alyssa Mautz (right knee), Alison Jahansouz (right knee), and Michele Vasconcelos (left knee).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Alanna Kennedy, Joanna Boyles.
Forwards: Rachel Hill, Camila, Claire Emslie.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Danica Evans, Bridget Callahan, Abby Elinsky, Morgan Reid, Carson Pickett, Dani Weatherholt.
Chicago Red Stars (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher.
Defenders: Casey Short, Tierna Davidson, Julie Ertz, Sarah Gorden,
Defensive Midfielders: Morgan Brian, Danielle Colaprico.
Midfielders: Yuki Nagasato, Katie Johnson, Nikki Stanton.
Forward: Sam Kerr.
Bench: Brooke Elby, Zoey Goralski, Maria Sánchez, Katie Naughton, Savannah McCaskill, Emily Boyd.
Ref: Elvis Osmanovic.
AR1: Melissa Gonzalez.
AR2: Casie Anderson.
4th: Alyssa Nichols.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Streaming: WatchESPN (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, ESPN (international).
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!