Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (7-6-7, 28 points) host NJ/NY Gotham FC (6-5-8, 26 points) at Exploria Stadium. This is the last of three times the two teams will face off during the 2021 NWSL regular season, and fourth time they’ll play this year.
The Pride and Gotham FC, formerly known as Sky Blue FC, have played each other 14 times since the Pride’s inaugural season in 2016. The Pride lead the all-time series 6-4-4 overall and 5-3-4 in NWSL regular-season games. The Pride hold a 3-1-2 record at home against Gotham, but dropped an additional home game in this year’s NWSL Challenge Cup.
The most recent game between two teams came on Aug. 29 at Red Bull Arena. The difference between the teams was a long-range goal by Erika Tymrak in the 49th minute. They previously met this year on June 20 in Orlando. Caprice Dydasco gave the visitors the lead just before the half, but a 90th-minute goal by Courtney Petersen saw the Pride take a point.
The only game between the two teams outside of regular season match-ups came on April 14 at Exploria Stadium. A 79th-minute Paige Monaghan goal lifted Gotham to the 1-0 win and handed the Pride their only loss in the preseason tournament.
The global pandemic in 2020 resulted in the two teams not seeing each other, so 2021 was the first time they’d played since 2019. The teams first met that year on June 22, 2019 in New Jersey. A Chioma Ubogagu 32nd-minute penalty was equaled by Sarah Killion’s 67th-minute conversion. But it was an own goal by Gina Lewandowski that pushed the Pride to a 2-1 win and ended a 15-game winless streak.
The second game between the teams came on July 20, 2019. Marisa Viggiano scored her first professional goal as the Pride claimed a 1-0 win. The teams met for a third and final time that year on Sept. 29, 2019. Shelina Zadorsky struck first for the Pride in the 18th minute. However, Carli Lloyd equalized in the 88th minute, lifting Sky Blue to a draw and avoiding the season sweep.
The Pride and Sky Blue met three times in 2018. The first game on June 16, 2018 was decided by Sydney Leroux’s brace and Rachel Hill’s late winner. The second game featured three goals in nine minutes. Marta gave the Pride the lead in the 51st minute and Imani Dorsey and Shea Groom responded with a pair of goals before Dani Weatherholt’s 73rd-minute goal saved a point for the Pride. Meeting for the final game of the season on Sept. 8, 2018, the difference was Lloyd’s 74th-minute goal in a 1-0 Sky Blue win.
The teams played three games in a season for the first time in 2017. Sky Blue took the first game 2-1 on May 27, 2017. The Pride responded with a pair of victories, winning 3-2 away and 5-0 at home to take two of the three meetings.
The Pride have done well since the arrival of Becky Burleigh as interim head coach, claiming points in six of eight games (3-2-3). However, the most recent outing was the worst for the Pride under their Burleigh, as they were trounced by OL Reign 3-0 in Tacoma, WA. The loss pushed the Pride down to fifth in the league.
The team was supposed to play the Chicago Red Stars in Bridgeview last weekend, but the game was postponed following the revelations about Paul Riley’s misconduct while coaching the North Carolina Courage. The Pride didn’t play midweek, but the Houston Dash came away with a 3-2 win over the league-leading Portland Thorns, jumping the Pride with the same number of games played.
Heading into this game against Gotham FC, the Pride sit in the final playoff spot, just a point ahead of the Washington Spirit and two points ahead of tonight’s opponent.
The last time Gotham FC faced the Pride, it ended in the team’s third straight loss. But they’ve bounced back strong, claiming points in each of their last three games (1-0-2). The most recent match was played at Subaru Park, home of the Philadelphia Union. The scoreless draw with the Spirit was dedicated to the retiring Lloyd, who grew up near Philadelphia.
After a strong start to the season, the Pride have put themselves in a position where they need maximum points from their last four games. No game is more important in the playoff push than this one against Gotham FC, which sits just two points back.
As is always the case when facing Gotham FC, keeping Lloyd off the scoresheet will be key to the Pride’s success. Despite not scoring, Lloyd was a constant threat in the last meeting between the two teams, nearly scoring on multiple occasions.
The Pride will also need to see more from their offensive stars. Alex Morgan, Marta, and Leroux were nearly invisible against OL Reign, rarely able to create dangerous situations in the opposing half. Those three will need to be a bigger part of the Pride’s attack if they hope to claim all three points in this critical game.
The Pride have been quite healthy heading into the final stretch of the season. Morgan returned before the two recent internationals and Ashlyn Harris returned to the lineup against OL Reign after a collision in goal against the Dash on Sept. 5 caused the team captain to miss the next game against Racing Louisville.
This game will also see Marta return to the starting lineup after the Brazilian star was on the bench during the last game against OL Reign. Rather than an injury, Burleigh said the omission was due to the amount of travel the attacker experienced during the international break.
With those three stars returning to action, the only players listed on the Pride injury list are Jade Moore (knee) and Viviana Villacorta (knee).
Similar to the Pride, Gotham FC comes into this game relatively healthy. The only player on the injury list is backup goalkeeper Mandy McGlynn (head).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Amy Turner, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Marta, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Jodie Taylor.
Bench: Erin McLeod, Phoebe McClernon, Toni Pressley, Parker Roberts, Kylie Strom, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Taylor Kornieck, Erika Tymrak, Abi Kim.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Kailen Sheridan.
Defenders: Imani Dorsey, Estelle Johnson, Gina Lewandowski, Caprice Dydasco.
Midfielders: Gaetane Thiney, McCall Zerboni, Nahomi Kawasumi.
Forwards: Midge Purce, Carli Lloyd, Ifeoma Onumonu.
Bench: Brianna Pinto, Paige Monaghan, Jennifer Cudjoe, Erica Skroski, So-dam Lee, Didi Haracic, Domi Richardson, Elizabeth Eddy, Evelyne Viens.
REF: Brad Jensen.
AR1: Jeremy Smith.
AR2: Zeno Gyuho Cho.
4TH: Alejo Calume.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Twitch (Global).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!