Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (0-4-1, 1 point) visit NJ/NY Gotham FC (1-2-2, 5 points) in their final 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup game. After drawing their first game against the Washington Spirit, the Pride have dropped the last four matches. Tonight, they look for a positive result heading into the NWSL regular season next weekend.
Here’s all you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Gotham FC first met in 2016, when the New Jersey-based club was called Sky Blue FC. Since then, the teams have played every year except 2020 when the global pandemic wiped out the regular season. In 16 meetings, the Pride have a 6-6-4 record in all competitions. However, Gotham has won the only two meetings in the Challenge Cup.
After not playing in the inaugural NWSL Challenge Cup in 2020, the Pride have met Gotham in the past two competitions. The most recent game was on March 30 at Exploria Stadium. The Pride led most statistical categories, but an 86th-minute goal by Midge Purce allowed the visitors to claim a 1-0 win.
They also competed in the Challenge Cup last season on April 14 in Orlando. Paige Monaghan’s 79th-minute goal was the only scoring in the game as Gotham handed the Pride their only loss of the 2021 Challenge Cup.
Following that Challenge Cup draw, the teams met three times in the regular season. On June 20 in Orlando, Caprice Dydasco’s first-half goal was equaled by Courtney Petersen’s 90th-minute conversion, resulting in a 1-1 draw. They met a second time on Aug. 29 at Red Bull Arena. This time it was Erika Tymrak’s long-range goal that lifted the Pride to a 1-0 win. The final meeting last year was on Oct. 9 at Exploria Stadium. Gotham took a 3-0 lead in the 50th minute, but the Pride mounted a ferocious comeback. Tymrak got one back in the 84th minute and a Marta penalty a minute later got the Pride to within one. However, it wasn’t enough as Gotham took the game 3-2.
Prior to the 2021 season, the teams hadn’t played each other since June 22, 2019 in New Jersey. The Pride took a first-half lead from a Chioma Ubogagu penalty, but Sarah Killion equalized in the 67th minute. It looked like another draw for the Pride until Gina Lewandowski’s own goal in the 81st minute ended the Pride’s 15-game losing streak.
They met again nearly a month later on July 20 in Orlando where Marisa Viggiano’s first professional goal saw the Pride claim a 1-0 win. The final meeting that year came on Sept. 29 in New Jersey. The Pride took the lead through Shelina Zadorsky, but Carli Lloyd equalized late to grab a 1-1 draw.
The 2018 season saw the teams play three times. The first was on June 16, where Sydney Leroux’s brace and a late Rachel Hill winner lifted the Pride to a 3-2 win. They played again in Orlando on Aug. 5 when Marta and Dani Weatherholt helped the Pride to a 2-2 draw. The final meeting that year came on Sept. 8. After nine goals in two games, Lloyd’s 74th-minute goal was the only scoring in the final meeting as Sky Blue claimed a 1-0 win.
Like 2018, the teams played three times in 2017. The first meeting was on May 27 in New Jersey. Jasmyne Spencer gave the Pride an 18th-minute lead, but Sam Kerr and Maya Hayes responded as Sky Blue won 2-1. The Pride took the second game, 3-2 on June 28 in New Jersey and dominated Sky Blue on Aug. 12 in Orlando, coming away with a 5-0 win.
The Pride’s inaugural 2016 season saw the teams meet for the first time. The two games that year came three days apart, occurring on Sept. 7 and Sept. 10. The first meeting ended in a 1-1 draw in New Jersey, but Sky Blue got its first win over the Pride in the second meeting, winning 2-1.
Tonight’s game is the sixth and final match of the Pride’s 2022 Challenge Cup. After the scoreless draw with the Spirit, the Pride have dropped their last four. The defense was the strength early in the tournament as the Pride lost 1-0 to the North Carolina Courage and Gotham. However, they conceded four times in each of the last two games, a 4-1 loss to the Spirit and a 4-2 loss last weekend to the Courage.
The most recent game appeared to get out of hand early, as the Courage scored three goals in the first nine minutes — a league record. However, the Pride responded well, with Darian Jenkins scoring in the 15th and 56th minutes, getting the hosts back to within a goal. In that one game, the Pride doubled the number of goals they scored in the first four matches.
Tonight, the Pride face a team that hasn’t been that much better. The 1-0 Gotham win in the first meeting is the only win by the New Jersey-based club this year. However, they also came away with 1-1 draws against the Spirit and Courage. As a result, Gotham is four points behind the Spirit and four points ahead of the Pride, meaning that neither team can change their position in the East Division.
With the preseason tournament coming to an end, the two teams will be using this game to get quality minutes for younger players and prepare for the start of the season next week. Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell has spoken about using the tournament to try out different lineups, which she’s done in each game. It’s expected that she’ll trot out another lineup that differs from the team’s most recent game.
The Pride will also be looking to put together a complete game for the first time this year. So far, the Pride have been a second-half team, playing much better in the second 45 minutes. Cromwell is looking for her team to play a solid 90 minutes before the start of the regular season.
“I thought that (March 30 against Gotham) was our best game of the season so far. At least, as close to a complete 90 minutes as we’ve had,” Cromwell says. “So we have confidence from that match but also know they have been getting better. They have very dangerous players, a quality team, and quality coaching staff. So we’ve got to play a complete 90 minutes. That’s what we’ve been lacking. We’ve had really good parts, halves of games, or we start well or we don’t get one. We have to get (a goal) early. We have to get momentum, and then finish out the game.”
Once again, the Pride have an extensive injury list, which includes Caitlin Cosme (D45), Marta (SEI), Erin McLeod (right knee), Sydney Leroux (left achilles), Parker Roberts (right ankle), Erika Tymrak (right thigh), and Meggie Dougherty Howard (right hip). Additionally, Amy Turner (right ankle) and Courtney Petersen (right foot) are listed as questionable and Carrie Lawrence is out due to yellow card accumulation.
Notable for this game is that Viviana Villacorta has been cleared to play for the first time since being drafted. The UCLA product played under Cromwell in college and was drafted by the Pride with the ninth overall pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft. However, she tore her ACL during her final college season, leaving her sidelined until now. Gotham will be without Imani Dorsey (neck), Sabrina Flores (knee), Allie Long (maternity leave) and Lewandowski (COVID protocols).
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Kaylie Collins.
Defenders: Courtney Petersen, Amy Turner, Megan Montefusco, Celia.
Midfielders: Angharad James, Mikayla Cluff, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Forwards: Darian Jenkins, Leah Pruitt, Kerry Abello.
Bench: Anna Moorhouse, Abi Kim, Chelsee Washington, Amy Turner, Viviana Villacorta, Kylie Strom, Julie Doyle.
NJ/NY Gotham FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Defenders: Caprice Dydasco, Ali Krieger, Estelle Johnson, Mandy Freeman.
Midfielders: Kristie Mewis, McCall Zerboni, Nahomi Kawasumi.
Forwards: Kumi Yokoyama, Ifeoma Onumonu, Paige Monaghan.
Bench: Michelle Betos, Cam Tucker, Nicole Baxter, Jen Cudjoe, Taryn Torres, Delanie Sheehan, Domi Richardson, Ellie Jean, Kelly Ann Livingstone.
REF: Jeremy Scheer.
AR1: Art Arustamyan.
AR2: Jessica Carnevale.
4TH: Scarlet Agrawal.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
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!