Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (4-2-3, 15 points) host Racing Louisville FC (3-4-1, 10 points) for the first time tonight at 7 p.m. The Pride will be looking to break a two-game losing streak and regain their position atop the NWSL standings.
This season is the first in the history of Racing Louisville FC, so there’s very little history between the two teams. The two sides have met only once previously — playing each other for the first time on April 10 at the new Lynn Family Stadium in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup. The first meeting between the two teams ended 2-2.
The hosts got the early advantage when Emily Fox sent CeCe Kizer through near midfield. Kizer beat Ashlyn Harris, giving Louisville the early lead. In the 44th minute, Meggie Dougherty Howard found the head of Taylor Kornieck, who equalized into the corner. In the 88th minute, the Pride seemed to score the winner when Abi Kim lifted the ball over Michelle Betos. However, Louisville equalized three minutes into injury time, when Brooke Hendrix was left open in the box.
The Pride enter this game in second place in the NWSL, a point behind the North Carolina Courage. Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the Courage saw the Pride drop out of the top spot in the league for the first time since the beginning of the season. Racing Louisville currently sits in eighth during its inaugural season in the NWSL. The fledgling club’s most recent game was a 2-0 loss to the Portland Thorns on Saturday.
With the Olympics quickly approaching, this will be the first Pride game without Marta as she departs to join Brazil. Three of the four players that will take part in the Olympics (Alex Morgan, Marta, and Erin McLeod) are now away from the team. The only upcoming Olympian remaining is right back Ali Riley, who is available against Louisville.
The Pride enter this game on a two-game losing streak. They finished a tough three-game week by losing to Houston 2-1 on June 26. They followed that up with the 2-0 loss to North Carolina on Independence Day. The Pride will look to get back to their winning ways and avoid a slide down the standings.
With Morgan and Marta having departed and multiple players potentially missing, this game should tell a lot about the Pride. In 2019, most of the starting lineup left for the FIFA World Cup, leaving a young and inexperienced side behind to play league games. That resulted in the Pride finishing last in the league that year.
Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner has put an emphasis on building a team that can withstand key absences during a major international tournament. Whether or not the Pride can handle the losses will determine if they can contend for their first NWSL championship or if they’ll experience a repeat of 2019. That challenge begins tonight against Louisville.
The loss of Marta will shake up the lineup but there is some consistency. Sydney Leroux has now started three games as a forward in place of Morgan. Crystal Thomas and Chelsee Washington have also seen increased minutes as the Pride prepare to be without some key players.
The biggest question will be defensively. The back four of Riley, Ali Krieger, Phoebe McClernon, and Courtney Petersen have been terrific for most of the season, but injuries have created problems of late. The two starting center backs, Krieger and McClernon, are dealing with injuries and are questionable for tonight’s game. That could result in a center back pairing that hasn’t had much time together — likely veteran Toni Pressley and either Konya Plummer or newcomer Amy Turner.
“We want to continue that kind of vein of form, we want to continue in being aggressive at home, we want to continue trying to take the game to the opponent,” Skinner said about the game. “Louisville, although being a new team, literally have strengthened and don’t lose anybody from their team, really. They’ve got that consistent message. They are going to come here with just that freedom to play. It’s always going to be a difficult task, and we are not taking anything easily. We’re preparing as we always would and preparing to perform really well and see where we’re at for the game from there.”
Tonight, the Pride will be without Jade Moore, who continues to recover from a left knee injury, and Marisa Viggiano, who is recovering from a right foot injury. Additionally, Morgan, Marta, and McLeod are on international duty.
While Louisville has fewer missing players, the visitors still have some questions. Noelle Higginson and Addisyn Merrick are out with a right leg and left ankle injury, respectively. While the team doesn’t have any absences due to the Olympics, Gemma Bonner, CeCe Kizer, and Freja Olofsson are all questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley.
Midfielders: Erika Tymrak, Meggie Dougherty Howard, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Taylor Kornieck, Sydney Leroux, Crystal Thomas.
Bench: Kaylie Collins, Brittany Wilson, Ally Haran, Carrie Lawrence, Konya Plummer, Kylie Strom, Amy Turner, Chelsee Washington, Abi Kim.
Racing Louisville (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Michelle Betos.
Defenders: Emily Fox, Gemma Bonner, Nealy Martin, Erin Simon.
Defensive Midfielders: Freja Olofsson, Savannah McCaskill.
Midfielders: CeCe Kizer, Yuki Nagasato, Lauren Milliet.
Forwards: Ebony Salmon.
Bench: Katie Lund, Julia Ashley, Kaleigh Riehl, Brooke Hendrix, Taylor Otto, Sinclaire Miramontez, Emina Ekic, Cheyna Matthews.
REF: Natalie Simon.
AR1: Deleana Quan.
AR2: Ashlee Varnson.
4TH: Adam Brzozowiec.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Twitter: For live updates, follow along at the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride) and on The Mane Land’s Twitter (@TheManeLand).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!