Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (1-0-1, 4 points) take on the Portland Thorns (1-1-0, 3 points) at Exploria Stadium tonight at 7 p.m. Orlando is currently undefeated and is on its best start to a season in the team’s history.
This is the first of three meetings between the two teams this season. They will next see each other on July 18 at Providence Park and then finish the season series in Orlando on Aug. 14.
History has not been kind to Orlando when Portland is involved. The Pride are just 1-9-1 all-time and lost all three matches in 2019 by a combined score of 9-4. Three of Orlando's goals came in one game.
The most recent meeting was on July 14, 2019 when Portland won 4-3. The Pride fell behind early, allowing a goal in the third minute. Portland doubled its lead at the beginning of the second half. The Pride fought back, though, and eventually tied the game at 3-3. Erin Greening’s 90th-minute goal looked to salvage a point for Orlando. But it was not to be. Tyler Lussi was left open on a corner in stoppage time and scored to give the Thorns the win.
The teams faced off in the opening match of the 2019 season. Ashlyn Harris kept the Pride alive, finishing with six saves, but Caitlin Foord and Tobin Heath assisted each other for both goals in the 2-0 game.
Less than a month later they played again, and once again Portland won by two goals. Toni Pressley headed in a corner to open the scoring, but then Portland came right back. Poor defending led to Portland’s first goal and then a pointless foul and perfectly placed free kick from Andressinha put the Thorns ahead. More poor defending killed off the game as Foord scored in the second half. The Pride lost 3-1 and remained winless at that point in the season.
Orlando has only beaten the Thorns once, and that came in 2018 on May 12. Alex Morgan and Christine Nairn both scored in the first 25 minutes and Nairn’s goal was one for the highlight reel. After a failed Portland clearance, Nairn chested the ball down and shot off the half-volley from about 30 yards out to score. Christine Sinclair found the back of the net just two minutes after Nairn’s goal, but the Pride were able to fend off the Thorns to take all three points.
Portland won the other two games in 2018, and the only additional time that the Pride earned any points against Portland was in a goalless draw at the end of the 2017 season.
The Pride find themselves in rare circumstances as they are second in the standings, undefeated, and have scored the second-most goals in the league. Of course, Orlando has only played two games, so these stats are not weighted too heavily at the moment. Still, for a Pride team that has been woeful in recent years, this is a dream start to the season.
Portland opened the season with a 5-0 thrashing of the Chicago Red Stars. The Thorns started on fire and led 3-0 after 16 minutes. Portland added a fourth before halftime and the game was all but over at the break.
Portland then faced OL Reign and it was a different story. The Thorns still started fast as Sinclair scored in the fourth minute. But the Reign did not let Portland run away with it. Megan Rapinoe equalized five minutes later and Shirley Cruz pulled the Reign ahead. The match ended 2-1.
“Another hard game [ahead], a different challenge,” Orlando City Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “[Portland are] simmering in terms of their attacking traits, lots of high quality in advanced areas. Lots of high quality international players and we’re going to have to be at our best again to make sure that we get a chance of getting the result that we want. We have to go into this game with the same momentum that we created against North Carolina and make sure we give everything in order to pick apart the traits that will be presented by Portland, but also try to defend their very high quality players that they have. It’ll be a tough challenge, but we’ll be ready to go, no doubt about that.”
Portland is the favorite to win the league this year. This is in no small part due to the team’s high-powered attack. The Thorns will look to control possession and take a lot of shots. Orlando will need to take away space in its third of the field, and then quickly hit on the counter. The Pride must also be decisive in the final third and finish their chances.
The Pride only have Jade Moore out on the injury report with a left knee injury. Hannah Betfort (left hip) will miss the match for Portland.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Phoebe McClernon, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Defensive Midfielders: Gunny Jónsdóttir. Meggie Dougherty Howard.
Midfielders: Sydney Leroux, Marta, Taylor Kornieck.
Forward: Alex Morgan.
Bench: Erin McLeod, Ally Haran, Konya Plummer, Toni Pressley, Marisa Viggiano, Chelsee Washington, Abi Kim, Crystal Thomas, Erika Tymak.
Portland Thorns (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Adrianna Franch.
Defenders: Natalia Kuikka, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelli Hubly, Madison Pogarch.
Midfielders: Lindsey Horan, Angela Salem, Crystal Dunn.
Forwards: Tyler Lussi, Christine Sinclair, Simone Charley.
Bench: Bella Bixby, Celeste Boureille, Marissa Everett, Emily Menges, Raquel Rodríguez, Meghan Klingenberg, Christen Westphal, Morgan Weaver, Sophia Smith.
Ref: Laura Rodriguez.
AR1: Ashlee Varnson.
AR2: Laura Waliski.
4th: Alejo Calume.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (USA), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!