Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-0-1, 1 point) take on the North Carolina Courage (1-0-0, 3 points) in their first NWSL Challenge Cup road game. After a scoreless draw with the Washington Spirit, the Pride have the opportunity to take the lead in the East Division.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of tonight’s game.
The Pride have faced the Courage 13 times dating back to the 2017 season, when the team was relocated from Rochester, NY. In that time, the Pride have a record of 3-8-4 (3-8-1 in the NWSL regular season, 0-0-2 in the Fall Series, and 0-0-1 in the NWSL Challenge Cup). The Pride are 2-4-3 on the road against the Courage (2-4-1 in the regular season, 0-0-1 in the Challenge Cup, and 0-0-1 in the Fall Series). North Carolina has won six of the last 11 meetings and have outscored the Pride, 36-15.
The last meeting between the two teams came during the 2021 regular season. On July 31, 2021 in Cary, Sydney Leroux gave the Pride the lead in the 50th minute. But Brittany Ratcliffe equalized for the Courage two minutes later, securing a 1-1 draw.
The draw was the rubber match between the two teams in the regular season. The first regular-season meeting last year came on May 22 in North Carolina. Leroux gave the Pride the lead in the 36th minute and Alex Morgan doubled the advantage in the 79th minute. Jessica McDoanld got a consolation goal for the hosts in the 88th minute but the Pride came away with a 2-1 win.
The teams met for a second time on July 4 in Orlando. Debinha gave the Courage the lead just three minutes into the game and Havana Solaun doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 66th minute. The Pride were unable to respond as they fell 2-0.
The three meetings prior to the 2021 regular season were all tournament games and all draws. In the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, the teams played to a scoreless draw in North Carolina. They also met twice during the 2020 Fall Series. The first was another scoreless draw in Cary. The second saw the Pride come back from a 3-0 deficit at halftime to draw 3-3, with goals by Marisa Viggiano, Kristen Edmonds, and Ally Haran.
The three match-ups between the Pride and Courage in 2019 were one-sided for the North Carolina-based side. A 5-0 demolishing in North Carolina on Apr. 17 was followed by a 3-0 drubbing on June 1 in Orlando. The Pride did score a goal in the final match-up that year through Rachel Hill, but were still thoroughly outplayed in a 6-1 defeat.
Like 2019, the Pride lost all three games against the Courage in 2018. However, these games were closer. The first was a wild 4-3 affair on May 23, 2018. The Courage took a 3-1 lead before Alanna Kennedy and Rachel Hill pulled even. But McDonald netted the winner for the Courage in the 90th minute. North Carolina dominated the next two games with 3-0 wins.
The first season that the Pride and Courage met was in 2017. The first-ever meeting was on Apr. 29, 2017, which the Courage won 3-1. The second game saw the Pride snap a 12-game losing streak, winning 3-1. The final meeting that year came in the last game of the season. Goals by Edmonds, Marta, and Kennedy bested a Lynn Williams brace as the Pride won 3-2.
This is the second game for the Pride in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup. The first was a scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit. Despite being dominated throughout most of the game, the defense was able to keep the Spirit off the board for the team’s first clean sheet.
Tonight, the Pride will visit a team that has been one of the best in the NWSL over the past few years. However, the Courage have lost some key players that make them less dangerous on the offensive end. The losses include U.S. internationals McDonald, who went to Racing Louisville, and Williams, who joined the Kansas City Current.
The most dangerous player still on the Courage is Debinha. The Brazilian international has recorded eight goals and three assists in 11 games since 2017. She likely would’ve had more but missed games against the Pride due to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2020 Summer Olympics, where she represented Brazil.
While the Courage have lost some of their attacking threats, the team has remained unchanged defensively. In addition to returning starting goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland, North Carolina brings back its whole back line in Carson Pickett, Abby Erceg, Kaleigh Kurtz, and Merritt Mathias. That’s a group that only allowed 23 goals last year, third lowest in the league.
The Pride got out of the first game of the year relatively healthy. Only Carrie Lawrence (left thigh) is listed as questionable. Those still missing this weekend are Abi Kim (left thigh), Caitlin Cosme (D45), Julie Doyle (right ankle), and Viviana Villacorta (right knee). The Courage will be missing Casey Murphy (right knee), Ratcliffe (left thigh), and Solaun (right knee), while Kaitlin Fregulia (left knee) is listed as questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Toni Pressley, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence.
Midfielders: Meggie Dougherty Howard, Gunny Jonsdottir, Parker Roberts, Marta.
Forwards: Darian Jenkins, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Anna Moorehouse, Kylie Strom, Kerry Abello, Amy Turner, Chelsee Washington, Angharad James, Mikayla Cluff, Erika Tymrak, Leah Pruitt.
North Carolina Courage (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Katelyn Rowland.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Abby Erceg, Kaleigh Kurtz, Merritt Mathias.
Midfielders: Brianna Pinto, Denise O’Sullivan, Malia Berkely.
Forwards: Jaelene Daniels, Kiki Pickett, Taylor Smith.
Bench: Marisa Bova, Meredith Speck, Tess Boade, Emily Gray, Katie Bowen, Jorian Baucom, Rylee Baisden, Diana Ordoñez, Ryan Williams.
REF: Joshua Encarnacion.
AR1: Andrew Charron.
AR2: Dallas Rosier.
4TH: Melinda Sopka.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: WakeMed Soccer Park — Cary, NC.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (International).
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along @TheManeLand and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!