Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (7-9-7, 28 points) welcome the Chicago Red Stars (10-8-5, 35 points) to Exploria Stadium. It’s the third meeting and final game of the 2021 NWSL regular season for both teams.
The Pride have a record of 4-8-1 against the Red Stars since their inaugural meeting in 2016. The Pride have claimed only one point at home as all four wins have come at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, IL. Orlando is 0-5-1 at home vs. Chicago.
The most recent game between the two teams came on Oct. 13, a makeup from the postponed game originally scheduled for Oct. 2. Kealia Watt’s sixth-minute goal held up for 84 minutes, allowing the Red Stars to come away with a 1-0 win.
The first game this season came on Aug. 8 and was also in Bridgeview. Jodie Taylor’s 15th-minute goal gave the Pride the lead and Sydney Leroux doubled it just before full time. The 2-0 Pride win ended a six-game winless streak and was Becky Burleigh’s first NWSL win as a coach in the midst of her 3-1-3 start that has since turned around for the worse, with a four-match losing streak.
The Pride and Red Stars weren’t matched up during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup or Fall Series, so the last meeting prior to this year was in 2019. The third and final meeting that year came on Sept. 11, 2019 in Orlando. After more than 90 minutes of scoreless play, Casey Short netted the game’s only goal, lifting the Red Stars to the late 1-0 win.
It was the Sam Kerr show on June 30, 2019, as the Australian scored a hat trick. Chioma Ubogagu and Marta kept the Pride close, but the Red Stars came away with a 3-2 win. The teams met again on Aug. 21, 2019 in Bridgeview. Rachel Hill and Ubogagu got the Pride off to a 2-0 start on either side of halftime, pushing the team to a 2-1 win.
The Pride took two of three games from the Red Stars in 2018. Ubogagu and Hill each scored on May 2, 2018, as the Pride took the first meeting 2-0. On May 26, it was Hill and Alex Morgan scoring inside the first 10 minutes. Leroux and Kerr got their names on the scoresheet as the Pride won the high-scoring affair 5-2.
Aug. 25, 2018 was the final meeting between the two teams that season. Kerr and Vanessa DiBernardo both scored just before the half, giving the visitors the 2-0 lead. Morgan cut the Pride deficit in half in the second half, but the Red Stars avoided the season sweep with a 3-1 win.
Christen Press dominated the Pride in the first two meetings of 2017 scoring the lone goal on July 1, 2017 in Orlando. Press followed up that performance by netting a brace on July 22, 2017, leading the Red Stars to a 2-1 win.
It took the Pride five tries to claim points against the Red Stars, but they finally did in the final meeting of 2017. Morgan scored the opener in the 24th minute, but Sofia Huerta equalized in the 55th. The Pride couldn’t find a late winner, but came away with a 1-1 draw.
The 2016 season was the first for the Pride, so the first time these two teams met. Press scored the lone goal in the first meeting, as the Red Stars won in Bridgeview 1-0. The next meeting came on July 16, 2016 at Camping World Stadium. Taylor Comeau was the difference in that one as the Red Stars took the first meeting between the two teams 1-0.
The Pride enter the last game of the 2021 NWSL regular season on a four-game losing streak. Burleigh will be coaching her final game for the Pride as the club announced this week that the interim coach will not be retained following the season.
The team’s last game was a 3-1 loss to Racing Louisville, which officially eliminated Orlando from playoff contention, resulting in the team missing the postseason for the fourth time in five seasons. The must-win game in Louisville got off to a great start, with Taylor scoring in the third minute. It was a welcome change as the Pride had given up goals inside the first 10 minutes in each of the previous three games.
The Pride missed some opportunities to double the lead and paid for it when the hosts equalized with the last kick of the first half. Katie McClure scored just seven minutes into the second half, which ended up being the winning goal for Louisville.
The Pride started the season on a seven-game undefeated streak and topped the table heading into the Olympics. Despite some aggressive roster moves to strengthen the team, they went into a spiral until Marc Skinner resigned. Burleigh gave the team a brief lift, but they faltered again the last month, ending the team’s playoff hopes.
Tonight, Orlando will enter the final game of the season with nothing on the line but pride. However, it will be a send-off for Burleigh.
On the other side, the Red Stars are fighting to host a playoff game. Like the Pride, Chicago comes into this game following a two-week break. However, the Red Stars currently sit fourth in the standings, one point ahead of NJ/NY Gotham FC and two points ahead of the Houston Dash and North Carolina Courage.
“(Chicago is) a pretty direct team,” Burleigh said about the game. “In terms of their weapons, they’ve definitely got a lot of them and they’ve definitely got something on the line and they’ll be playing hard. We have to match that intensity and that ability to come out and play with purpose. I’m just looking for us to maximize our ability on the field Friday night.”
The Pride have an extensive injury list coming into this game. In addition to Jade Moore (left knee) and Viviana Villacorta (SEI), Meggie Dougherty Howard (right foot), Marta (right knee), and Taylor Kornieck (right ankle) are listed as out. Ashlyn Harris (right hip), Ali Krieger (right knee), and Amy Turner (right calf) are listed as questionable.
The Red Stars also have a long injury list this weekend, with five players list as out. That list includes Julie Ertz (right thigh), Katie Johnson (COVID protocol), Casey Krueger (illness), Alyssa Naeher (right knee), and Sarah Woldmoe (COVID protocol).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Phoebe McClernon, Kylie Strom.
Midfielders: Erika Tymrak, Marisa Viggiano, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Jodie Taylor.
Bench: Kaylie Collins, Brittany Wilson, Carrie Lawrence, Ali Riley, Parker Roberts, Amy Turner, Emily van Egmond, Abi Kim, Crystal Thomas.
Chicago Red Stars (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Cassie Miller.
Defenders: Tatumn Milazzo, Sarah Gorden, Tierna Davidson, Arin Wright.
Midfielders: Morgan Gautrat, Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico.
Forwards: Makenzy Doniak, Kealia Watt, Mallory Pugh.
Bench: Emily Boyd, Rachel Hill, Alyssa Mautz, Zoe Morse, Ella Stevens, Nikki Stanton, Bianca St. Georges.
REF: Elvis Osmanovic.
AR1: Ashlee Varnson.
AR2: Miguel Martes.
4TH: Sarieni Vasquez.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Twitch (Global).
Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and The Mane Land’s Twitter feed (@TheManeLand).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!