Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (3-0-2, 11 points) host NJ/NY Gotham FC (2-1-1, 7 points) at Exploria Stadium. This is the second time the Pride and Gotham FC will face off this year, but the first time in the NWSL regular season.
The Pride have faced Gotham FC, formerly known as Sky Blue FC, in every season since the team’s inception in 2016, except 2020. The Pride lead the series 5-4-3 overall and 5-3-3 in NWSL regular-season games.
In the most recent meeting, the Pride dominated most statistical categories, including shots and shots on target. However, the team’s finishing was lacking, allowing the visitors to stay in the game. Gotham took advantage in the 79th minute when Paige Monaghan scored, lifting her team to a 1-0 result.
Due to the global pandemic, the two teams didn’t meet in 2020. The last time they faced off in the NWSL regular season came in 2019, playing three times. On June 22, 2019, two penalties and an own goal resulted in all three goals, allowing the Pride to end a 15-game winless streak with a 2-1 win.
The second game came on July 20, 2019. Marisa Viggiano scored her first professional goal as the Pride won 1-0. The final match-up of 2019 came on Sept. 29. A Shelina Zadorsky goal was equaled by Carli Lloyd, allowing the team then known as Sky Blue FC to avoid the season sweep.
2018 saw the two teams meet three times for the second consecutive year. In the first game, a Sydney Leroux brace and Rachel Hill winner saw the Pride win 3-2. That was the Pride’s only win against Sky Blue that season as they drew 2-2 in the second game and Sky Blue won 1-0 in the final meeting that year.
The Pride come into this game in first place, sitting two points ahead of Portland Thorns FC. Their most recent game was a 1-1 draw on June 6 at the Washington Spirit. A 64th-minute goal by Ashley Hatch was quickly answered by Taylor Kornieck.
Gotham is currently sitting in fourth, four points behind the Pride. They last took the field on June 5, defeating OL Reign 1-0. In that game, it was a 13th-minute strike by Ifeoma Onumonu that was the difference.
The first meeting between these two teams this year came in the NWSL Challenge Cup. The Pride had more shots and shots on target in that game but fell 1-0 as Gotham FC netted a late winner.
“I feel like we should’ve won that game,” Pride head coach Marc Skinner said in his pre-game press conference this week. “If we produce the same quality of attack that we did last time, then we have to win the game.”
There are some key differences in the two teams from that game and their upcoming match-up. Taking place during an international break, both teams were missing some players who will be expected to impact this game.
For the Pride, Alex Morgan was with the U.S. National Team in Europe and Gunny Jonsdottir with the Iceland national team. Gotham has even more changes to the lineup from the last meeting.
“What they do have this time, Carli (Lloyd) comes back, Midge Purce comes back in, (Evelyne) Viens comes back in,” Skinner says. “So they have more threat in the forward positions.”
Another addition since the last meeting is Allie Long. Traded from OL Reign to Gotham in April, Long was a member of the 2019 U.S. FIFA World Cup championship side and adds even more to an already dangerous attack.
“We have to be on the money in the back, Skinner says. “And we have to be resilient, and we have to understand the threats that they can give to us. But we really have to expose the back line and put them on the back foot when we attack.”
The good news for the Pride is that they’ll have nearly everyone back for this game. Morgan was the last to arrive back in Orlando, doing so Friday evening. Skinner said she was given a couple of extra days off to better prepare for the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo, but that she will be available for selection.
The other question heading into the week was the condition of Sydney Leroux. After suffering a small injury against Kansas City on May 30, she was left out of the team’s trip to Washington, D.C. However, Skinner says she’s ready to go tonight.
“Syd’s come back into the squad,” Skinner said about her return. “She’s had three or four training sessions. As far as we’re concerned, she’s back.”
While Gotham have the entire squad available, the Pride will be missing two players. Jade Moore’s absence was expected as she continues to recover from a left knee injury. Carrie Lawrence will be unavailable due to an undisclosed illness.
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Phoebe McClernon, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Defensive Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Midfielders: Sydney Leroux, Taylor Kornieck, Marta.
Forwards: Alex Morgan.
Bench: Erin McLeod, Ally Haran, Konya Plummer, Toni Pressley, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Erika Tymrak, Chelsee Washington, Abi Kim, Crystal Thomas
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Kaitlen Sheridan.
Defenders: Imani Dorsey, Mandy Freeman, Gina Lewandowski, Caprice Dydasco.
Midfielders: Jennifer Cudjoe, Allie Long, Sodam Lee.
Forwards: Nahomi Kawasumi, Evelyne Viens, Paige Monaghan.
Bench: Didi Haracic, Erica Skroski, Estelle Johnson, Nicole Baxter, McCall Zerboni, Brianna Pinto, Domi Richardson, Ifeoma Onumonu
REF: Alex Billeter.
AR1: Ashlee Varnson.
AR2: Juan Pablo Casas
4TH: Vincente Cortes.
How to Watch
Match Time: 6 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!