The Orlando Pride’s season ended with a thud on Friday night as the club lost its fifth consecutive game to close out the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League season. The season-long skid couldn’t have come at a worse time, as it dropped the Pride from above the playoff line to an eighth place finish in the 10-team league in just a matter of a few weeks.
The ship seemed to have righted after Becky Burleigh came on as the interim coach, losing only once in a seven-game span. But then the wheels came completely off and Pride fans are left wondering how a team in first place a third of the way through the season could fall so far with a roster like the one Orlando has.
Friday night provided the Pride with an opportunity to at least end the season on a high note and play spoiler against a Chicago Red Stars side that hadn’t yet clinched an NWSL playoff spot. Unfortunately, Pride killer Kealia Watt did what she usually does and scored against Orlando, allowing the Red Stars to escape with a 1-0 win. It was perhaps even a flattering result for the Pride considering they managed to get only one shot on target all night. Most of the match was played on the Orlando half and the Pride had only three shot attempts in the first half — all of which came in the late stages.
Orlando had opportunities in the game. Gunny Jonsdottir fired just inches wide off a great flick from Jodie Taylor. Alex Morgan had a gaping wide net but couldn’t poke a tough aerial ball on target from just a couple of yards out. Emily van Egmond had a good look late from distance but fired her shot right at the goalkeeper.
So, a Pride season that once held so much promise fizzled out in the end and it’ll be another off-season of searching for answers and potentially a major rebuild with a number of players well past their 30th birthdays.
Nevertheless, a night at the stadium always has its moments. We hope you enjoy these images from the Pride’s 2021 season finale.
Images: Dan MacDonald
Words: Michael Citro