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First Two 2020 Orlando Pride Matches Announced

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We know where, when, and against whom the Pride will play their first two NWSL matches of 2020.

SOCCER: OCT 12 NWSL - Reign FC at Orlando Pride Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced all of its teams’ 2020 home openers for the upcoming season and we now know who, where, and when the Orlando Pride will play their first two matches. The Pride will kick things off at home for the third time in their history as Sky Blue FC comes to Exploria Stadium on Sunday, April 19. It is Orlando’s third consecutive season starting the NWSL schedule at home.

After hosting Sky Blue in the first season-opening meeting between the two teams, Marc Skinner’s Pride will have a short week, flying across the country to play the Utah Royals on Friday, April 24. Times for the two matches will be announced later, as will the remainder of the 2020 NWSL schedule.

The Pride are 0-1-1 in NWSL season openers in Orlando and 0-3-1 in all season openers, with all three losses coming against the Portland Thorns — 2016 and 2017 at Portland and 2019 at home — and the draw coming at Exploria Stadium against the Utah Royals in 2018. The Pride are 1-1-2 in the club’s four previous home openers. The previous two sentences might seem confusing but they’re not, as only two of the home openers have been outright season openers.

You still with me? If so, good. If not, here’s how it breaks down:

Season-Opening Pride Matches

  • 2016: 2-1 loss at Portland Thorns on 4/17/16
  • 2017: 2-0 loss at Portland Thorns on 4/15/17
  • 2018: 1-1 draw vs. Utah Royals on 3/24/18
  • 2019: 2-0 loss vs. Portland Thorns on 4/14/19
  • 2020: ? vs. Sky Blue FC on 4/19/20

Pride Home Openers

  • 2016: 3-1 win vs. Houston Dash on 4/23/16
  • 2017: 1-1 draw vs. Washington Spirit on 4/22/17
  • 2018: 1-1 draw vs. Utah Royals on 3/24/18
  • 2019: 2-0 loss vs. Portland Thorns on 4/14/19
  • 2020: ? vs. Sky Blue FC on 4/19/20

This will be the latest start to a Pride season from the start of the calendar year in club history, surpassing the old record of April 17 set back in 2016 in Orlando’s inaugural season. With 2020 being an Olympic year, that’s less than ideal unless the season extends later than usual. The earliest start to a Pride season came in 2018, when the team kicked off the season on March 24.

Considering the number of internationals on the Pride’s roster, we can expect several players to be gone for a good chunk of the season and if there is a window for Olympic play, it will condense the schedule (meaning more midweek games). The Pride won’t be the only team dealing with these issues, and they won’t use them as excuses, but they bear mentioning nonetheless.

Orlando is set to kick off its fifth NWSL season, looking to bounce back from its worst year ever in 2019, when the team finished in last place with just a 4-16-4 record. To that end, the club acquired USWNT defender Emily Sonnett, New Zealand international fullback Ali Riley, and former Canadian international goalkeeper Erin McLeod in the off-season and drafted a club record seven players at the 2020 NWSL College Draft, including No. 3 overall pick Taylor Kornieck, who signed a contract on Feb. 11.