Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-0-1, 1 point) take on NJ/NY Gotham FC (0-0-0, 0 points) at Exploria Stadium. This is the Pride’s second match in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, and Gotham’s first.
The Pride hold the all-time advantage in the series, 5-3-3. The teams did not play in 2020. The last meeting came back on Sep. 29, 2019, when Gotham was then known as Sky Blue FC. Shelina Zadorsky finished from close range after a free kick from Claire Emslie to open the scoring. It looked like the Pride would get a season sweep, but Carli Lloyd headed home a corner to tie the game at 1-1.
Earlier that year on June 22, 2019, Orlando entered the game riding a 15-match winless streak that dated back to 2018. Two penalty kicks and an own goal decided this match, and the Pride finally won, 2-1.
A month later on July 20, 2019, the teams met again. With the third-largest attendance for a Pride home game and the largest since the 2017 home opener, Orlando beat Sky Blue, 1-0. Marisa Viggiano, who created the game-winning own goal in the previous match against Sky Blue, got her first professional goal with the game-winner.
The Pride only beat Sky Blue once in 2018. That win came on June 16, when Orlando edged out the New Jersey side, 3-2. Sydney Leroux recorded a first-half brace, and Rachel Hill scored the late game-winner.
The teams played to a 2-2 draw on Aug. 5 of that year as well. After a scoreless first half, Marta put away a rebound after Dani Weatherholt’s shot hit the post at the beginning of the second half. Two minutes later, Imani Dorsey tied the game and six minutes after that, Shea Groom gave Sky Blue its first lead of the season in any match. In the 73rd minute, Camila drew a foul during a run into the box. The referee played advantage when Weatherholt ended up with the ball, and she put the ball in the back of the net. Marta missed what would have been the game-winning penalty in stoppage time.
Orlando had the edge in 2017. The Pride lost the first meeting, but then followed that up by winning the next two matches by a combined score of 8-2. In Orlando’s inaugural season, the teams played in back-to-back games, and Orlando failed to win either. The teams drew 1-1 on Sept. 7, 2016 — the first draw in Pride history— and then Sky Blue won 2-1 three days later.
The Orlando Pride could temporarily move to the top spot in the East division with a win. Orlando will be the only team to play multiple games after tonight. If Gotham wins, it will be tied for first in the division with the North Carolina Courage.
As a reminder, the Challenge Cup has two divisions — East and West. Each team plays each other in their division. The top team from each division will then play each other in the final.
The Pride drew Racing Louisville FC over the weekend 2-2. Orlando was poor for much of the game, but vastly improved in the second half. Seven players made their Orlando Pride debuts in that match — Ali Riley, Phoebe McClernon, Jade Moore, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Taylor Kornieck, Erika Tymrak, and Abi Kim.
Kornieck was one of the best players on the field, and opened her NWSL scoring account with a powerful header in the first half. The rookie also picked up a yellow card and must now be careful. If any player gets two yellow cards in two separate matches they will be suspended for one match.
Gotham has yet to play a game in the Challenge Cup. The team was dismal in past years but has steadily made improvements in the organization. Gotham is now a formidable opponent and it should be a tough game for the Pride.
“I think we’re put at a little bit of a disadvantage again because we’ve got a team that hasn’t played so we don’t get any video on them,” said Skinner after training on Monday. “They get a head start. They haven’t played, so they’re fresh. So, it’s the way that we shoot that lens. We’ve played now so we’ve got experienced of playing, so hopefully that will show. We can be a little bit sharper. We can set the tone within our backyard because being in Orlando will be special for us and there’s no doubt about that.”
Orlando fell into some injury issues over the weekend, with a few players picking up some knocks. Riley has a few gashes under her knee due to a challenge that was shockingly only a yellow card. Moore and Dougherty Howard are both nursing injuries as well, but Skinner said that they should be available for selection.
The Pride will definitely be without Alex Morgan (USA), goalkeeper Erin McLeod (CAN), and midfielder Gunny Jónsdóttir (ICE) due to international duty. Crystal Thomas is out with a right hamstring injury. Dougherty Howard is listed as questionable on this week’s injury report.
Kailen Sheridan (right quad) and Kenie Wright (right knee) are out for Gotham with injuries. Estelle Johnson (CMR), Carli Lloyd (USA), Margaret Purce (USA), and Evelyne Viens (CAN) are on international duty.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Ali Riley, Toni Pressley, Phoebe McClernon, Ali Krieger.
Midfielders: Courtney Petersen, Marisa Viggiano, Jade Moore.
Forwards: Marta, Taylor Kornieck, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Brittany Wilson, Ally Haran, Erika Tymrak, Chelsea Washington, Carrie Lawrence, Konya Plummer, Abi Kim.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: DiDi Haracic.
Defenders: Imani Dorsey, Mandy Freeman, Gina Lewandowski, Erica Skroski.
Midfielders: Nicole Baxter, Jennifer Cudjoe, Soham Lee.
Forwards: Nahomi Kawasumi, Ifeoma Onumonu, Paige Monaghan.
Bench: Dominique Richardson, Sabrina Flores, Caprice Dydasco, Elizabeth Eddy, Taylor Aylmer, Mandy McGlynn, Claire Winter.
Ref: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Ashlee Varnson.
AR2: Melissa Beck.
4th: Alex Billeter.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Streaming: Twitch (International only). [Editor’s note: This story originally stated the match was going to stream domestically on Paramount+. That is not the case and we have removed that from the post. We apologize for the error.]
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!