Welcome to your match thread for the Orlando Pride’s first home match of the season. Although it is a home game, it will not be at Exploria Stadium. Instead, the match will be played at Osceola County Stadium. The Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) take on the Houston Dash (2-1-0, 6 points) today at 5 p.m. — just two weeks after they last met.
The Pride are just 5-7-1 in the all-time series. Three of Orlando’s five wins came in 2016. The Pride were undefeated at home against Houston that year and split the series in Houston for a record of 3-1-0.
Houston won the last match 3-1, back on Sept. 26. Nichelle Prince got the game’s first goal in the 27th minute. Sophie Schmidt sent a excellent ball from inside Houston’s defensive third of the field over the top of the Pride’s back line. Prince did the rest and the Dash went up 1-0. Marisa Viggiano tied the game just before halftime, but the Dash scored twice in the second half, with Schmidt converting a penalty kick and Shea Groom adding an insurance goal.
The Pride went winless in three matches against Houston last season (0-2-1). Each match against the Dash was decided by no more than a goal. The first meeting of 2019 occurred on May 5. With the U.S. internationals away, Orlando failed to send a single shot on target, and Kealia Ohai’s seventh-minute goal won the game for the home side, 1-0. The clubs drew in the second meeting that ended 2-2 back on June 15, 2019. Joanna Boyles got her first professional goal off a free kick on the edge of the 18, and the Pride went up 1-0 early. Orlando took that lead into halftime, but the Dash stormed back and scored two unanswered goals. Minutes later, Danica Evans scored the game-tying goal, and it finished 2-2.
On Aug. 10, 2019, Marta and Julie King were both issued red cards. It was King’s first appearance for the Pride, but she only lasted an hour after fouling Kristie Mewis and earning a straight red. Kristen Edmonds tripped Ohai in the box in the 85th minute. This led to a scuffle, and Marta was issued a straight red. Sofia Huerta converted the spot kick, and then Houston played defensively for the last five minutes and stoppage time to win the match, 1-0.
Orlando won the first game in 2018 1-0 at home off of Chioma Ubogagu’s 65th-minute goal. Since that match, Houston has dominated the series. In the six games since that Ugogagu game winner, the Dash have not lost to Orlando (0-5-1). Houston has also outscored the Pride 12-5 in that time. The Pride lost 2-1 at home on June 27, 2018. Alex Morgan missed a penalty but later put Orlando ahead 1-0. Unfortunately, the Dash rallied on late goals by Ohai and Huerta. The Dash won the third meeting 3-1 in Houston July 11, 2018. Rachel Daly put Houston up 2-0 with a brace before Sydney Leroux pulled one back. Thembi Kgatlana scored late in stoppage time for the final margin.
Both teams won the away fixture in 2017. The Pride struck first, winning 4-2 in Houston on June 17, 2017. Marta scored twice, with Camila and Alanna Kennedy adding strikes to put the Pride up 4-0. Houston pulled two goals back late through Poliana and Prince. A week later, the Dash got their revenge in Orlando, winning 2-0 on goals by Carli Lloyd and Daly.
The Pride won each of the first three matches against the Dash in 2016 — the only year Orlando had a winning record against Houston. Morgan and Lianne Sanderson both scored in the first-ever meeting, plus Andressa scored an own goal. This led to a 3-1 Pride win as Orlando broke the NWSL attendance record at the time, with 23,403 fans in attendance. It was the Pride’s first ever home match.
Orlando followed that win up with back-to-back 1-0 wins. Edmonds got the game-winner on May 20, 2016, and Jasmyne Spencer netted the lone goal on June 23, 2016. The Dash stormed back in the last meeting of the season though and beat Orlando, 4-2. The game seemed over heading into the final 10 minutes of the match with the Pride down, 3-0. However, Edmonds set up Morgan for a goal and then scored herself to bring the Pride within one goal. Orlando could not find a third, though, and Ohai got her brace in the 94th minute.
Orlando has yet to win a match in the NWSL Fall Series. First, the Pride played to a scoreless draw at North Carolina and they followed that up with the loss in Houston. Houston has won back-to-back games and are one of the best teams in the league right now. Head Coach Marc Skinner praised the Dash’s play in his midweek press conference.
“Houston is very good at the minute and is paying off from having a consistent group together,” Skinner said. “They’re playing well and, watching the game the other night, they deserved to beat North Carolina. They’re definitely taking advantage of this moment and they look like they’re in a cohesive unit.”
Skinner has two games left to evaluate a number of players heading into the NWSL Expansion Draft and the buildup to the 2021 season.
“I think there’s lots for us to be better at,” he said. “We’ve got to move the ball better, we’ve got to be better on the ball, we’ve got to want the ball a lot better than we did [last time]. You could see some of the disconnections from not playing together that our team had that Houston didn’t suffer from, so there are things that we’ve fixed. It will be difficult and we know our team has to pull together to make sure we do everything right in order to get the result we want.”
The Pride did not play last week. They had a week’s rest after playing against Houston. While the Pride lost 3-1, it was a makeshift starting XI. Orlando is already missing 12 players who are out on loan. On top of that, Sydney Leroux and Kristen Edmonds both opted not to travel to Houston. They did not feel comfortable after a Dash player tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, defenders Konya Plummer and Ally Haran, along with midfielder Savanah Uveges, made their NWSL debuts.
Houston followed its win against Orlando up with a 4-1 home win against North Carolina. Schmidt and Groom both scored again, but Kristie Mewis made the headlines. Mewis was directly involved in each Houston goal and finished with three assists and a goal.
Houston is all over the season stats charts. They have the most goals (10), assists (8), and yellow cards (7) in the NWSL. They also have the second-most shots (44) and most shots on goal (22). Groom has the most shots and shots on goal, while Mewis has the most assists.
Orlando has no one on its injury report, however Jordyn Listro will miss the match after picking up two yellow cards in the previous two matches. Meanwhile, Kayla McCoy (left knee) and Erin Simon (personal) will miss the match for the visitors.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Brittany Wilson.
Defenders: Carrie Lawrence, Ali Krieger, Konya Plummer, Courtney Petersen.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Deneisha Blackwood, Chelsee Washington.
Forwards: Kristen Edmonds, Marta, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Ally Haran, Toni Pressley, Kate Howarth, Savanah Uveges, Abby Elinsky, Zandy Soree.
Houston Dash (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Jane Campbell.
Defenders: Allysha Chapman, Katie Naughton, Megan Oyster, Haley Hanson.
Midfielders: Kristie Mewis, Sophie Schmidt, Shea Groom.
Forwards: Brianna Visalli, Veronica Latsko, Nichelle Prince.
Bench: Lindsey Harris, Katie Stengel, Cami Privett, Jamia Fields, Maegan Kelly, Ally Prisock, Christine Nairn.
REF: Alex Billeter.
AR1: Ashlee Varnson.
AR2: Juan Pablo Casa.
4th: Tori Penso.
How to Watch
Match Time: 5 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Osceola County Stadium — Kissimmee, FL.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Enjoy the match! Go Pride!