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Orlando Pride vs. Washington Spirit: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from the Pride’s 1-1 draw against the Spirit?

Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride took on the Washington Spirit for the third time since the start of the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup on Sunday. Each of the matches has been close, and the last two ended in 1-1 draws.

In fact, the last two meetings had similar stories. Ashley Hatch scored the first goal in each. Then, the Pride equalized just a few minutes later. Both games were evenly matched, and both teams had chances to win.

Here are some takeaways from the most recent meeting:

The Streak Continues

The first takeaway from the match has to be that Orlando’s undefeated run continues. The win streak ended, but the Pride remain undefeated in the regular season. They have not lost in the last seven matches, dating back to the Challenge Cup.

The Pride have the best record in the NWSL this season. They are the only team yet to lose a match. Seeing how far this team has progressed beyond where it’s been the past few years is a remarkable achievement.

Ashlyn Harris Saves the Day

The Pride’s goalkeeper has been a significant reason why the Pride remain undefeated. She routinely comes up with huge saves, and Sunday was no different. Harris finished the match with five saves.

Harris could do little about the goal that she allowed. Two players were wide open in the box on a great cross. Hatch had little trouble heading in the goal, but she still made a great effort and run.

Two saves could be up for the NWSL Save of the Week. Without the ‘keeper, Orlando likely would have lost the match. While she remains out of the USWNT picture, for now, things may not look good for Orlando if Vlatko Andonovski decides to call up Harris, especially with backup goalkeeper Erin McLeod on the Canada roster.

Taylor Kornieck Continues to Impress

The 22-year-old receives the same comments every game. Wherever Kornieck goes, people will talk about her height. And for a good reason. At 6-foot-1, she is the tallest player in the league. She is also the same height as Orlando City’s Daryl Dike.

But Kornieck has shown that she is a much more rounded player than just an aerial threat. She is good on the ball and an asset in possession. She has been a vital part of the Pride’s attack this season and is tied for the most assists in the league (2). The only part of her game that has been missing was goals. That changed on Sunday when Kornieck recorded her first NWSL regular-season goal. She also took the most shots in the game for either team (5).

Alex Morgan Took a Beating

The USWNT regular was one of the players to watch before the game. Prior to the game, Morgan had a goal in each match and led the league in scoring. Morgan still has the most goals but failed to find the back of the net on Sunday.

One reason for this is the physical play from Washington. Especially late in the match, Morgan took some hard knocks. She was holding her midsection and had to receive treatment twice in the final few minutes. She could continue the game, but if the only way to stop Morgan is to play physically, there could be an injury in her future.

Defense Stays Strong

One of the critical reasons for the Pride’s early-season success has been its defense. Phoebe McClernon continues to impress, the goalkeeping has been outstanding, and the holding midfielders force play wide. It is a complete team effort with the Pride defending from the front.

On Sunday, this was the same story. Sydney Leroux typically tracks back, but with her out of the game day roster, Marta got back on defense. Morgan pressured the back line continuously as well. Even Gunny Jónsdóttir defended from the front and almost caused a goal because of it.

This stopped Washington from getting good looks on goal. The Spirit finished the match with 21 shots. However, only six were on frame. One ended in a goal, and Harris was forced into two spectacular saves. Other than that, the remaining three shots on goal were not threatening.

Marc Skinner talked about this after the game. He said that this will continue to improve as the players get more game time together. Still, he is asking the defenders to be more composed and more focused.