Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (2-1-1, 7 points) welcome the Chicago Red Stars (1-1-0, 3 points) to Exploria Stadium. This is the first of two games the teams will play this year, with the return game coming on June 12 in Bridgeview, IL.
Here is everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Red Stars have faced off every year since 2016 except 2020, when the NWSL regular season was canceled. In 14 games, the Pride have a record of 4-9-1 against Chicago. However, all four wins have come on the road, with the Pride holding a record of 0-6-1 in the series in Orlando.
The teams met three times last season. They didn’t see each other until Aug. 8 in Illinois. Jodie Taylor gave the Pride the lead in the 15th minute and Sydney Leroux doubled the lead just before full time. The 2-0 win ended a six-game winless streak and gave interim head coach Becky Burleigh her first NWSL win.
The teams met again in Bridgeview on Oct. 13. It was a makeup game after their Oct. 2 scheduled meeting was postponed and Kealia Watt’s sixth-minute goal held up for 84 minutes, allowing the Red Stars to win 1-0. The final game was on Oct. 29 and was the last game of the regular season for both teams. The Red Stars dominated the game in Orlando, but the Pride held off the Chicago attack for 65 minutes. Watt made the difference again, scoring the game’s lone goal for a 1-0 Red Stars win.
The Pride and Red Stars didn’t face each other in the 2020 Fall Series so the most recent meeting prior to last year was in 2019. They first met on June 30, 2019 at Exploria Stadium. Chioma Ubogagu and Marta scored for the Pride but a Sam Kerr hat trick saw the Red Stars win 3-2. They met for a second time on Aug. 21 in Bridgeview. Rachel Hill and Ubogagu gave the Pride a 2-0 lead in 61 minutes. Tierna Davidson got one back for Chicago in second-half stoppage time, but the Pride came away with the 2-1 win. The final meeting that year was on Sept. 11, 2019 in Orlando. The game appeared to be headed for a scoreless draw, but Casey Short scored five minutes into second-half injury time, lifting the Red Stars to a late 1-0 win.
The first of three meetings in 2018 came on May 2 in Illinois. Hill and Ubogagu scored in the 28th and 81st minutes, respectively, leading to a 2-0 win. They met in the same location on May 26 and it was an offensive onslaught by the Pride. Hll, Alex Morgan, and Dani Weatherholt added to a Leroux brace as the Pride won 5-2. The final meeting in 2018 was the penultimate game of the season on Aug. 25 in Orlando. After taking both games in Bridgeview, Kerr scored a brace away from home as the Red Stars took game three, 3-1.
The Pride and Red Stars met three times in 2017. On July 1 in Orlando, Christen Press’ 68th-minute penalty was the difference as the Red Stars won 1-0. They met again on July 22 in Bridgeview where Press scored a brace, leading to a 2-1 win for Chicago. The final meeting that year was a week later in Orlando. Morgan gave the Pride the lead in the 24th minute, but Sofia Huerta equalized in the 53rd minute, resulting in a 1-1 draw.
The first year the two teams played was in the Pride’s inaugural season in 2016. The first-ever meeting was on May 1 in Bridgeview. Danielle Colaprico assisted Press in the 65th minute, the lone goal in a 1-0 Red Stars win. They met a second time on July 16, 2016 in Orlando. It was another 1-0 result as Taylor Comeau scored the lone goal in the 23rd minute.
After losing 3-0 to NJ/NY Gotham FC in the regular season opener, the Pride have been on a roll. They beat Angel City FC 1-0 in Los Angeles, came back from down 2-1 to draw the Kansas City Current 2-2 at home, and beat the North Carolina Courage Wednesday night, 2-1 in Cary, NC. Their current form sees the Pride come into this game with a 2-1-1 record, with seven points.
The game in North Carolina was the Pride’s most complete game so far this season. Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell and multiple players have spoken about the need to put together a full 90 minutes and the team had its most complete game so far this season Wednesday night.
While the Pride have been excellent on the road, they’ve struggled so far at home. Gotham completely outplayed the Pride in the first game this season and the team blew a 51st-minute, 1-0 lead to go down 2-1 in injury time against Kansas City. It took a last-minute penalty conversion by Toni Pressley to avoid a second-straight home loss. As a result, the Pride are still in search of their first home win of the season.
While the Pride have already played four regular-season games, the Red Stars have only played twice. Chicago beat Racing Louisville FC, 2-1 at home, before going to San Diego and losing 2-1 to the Wave. In both games, the Red Stars were significantly outshot — 14-8 against Louisville and 19-9 against San Diego. Additionally, they only had 38.9% possession in the Louisville game.
“A very organized team,” Cromwell said about the Red Stars. “There’s a lot of different ways they can play, different systems. We’re trying to figure out what their system might be but everyone is battling for points right now. I think it’s important that we protect our home field and get some points.
“Winning is a habit and what we do on a daily basis, the little habits that we do, all the things add up to big moments. Scoring early, keeping the pedal down, but we have to protect the lead better. We saw that (against Kansas City). So, we’re going to talk about little details with game management.”
Part of the reason for Chicago’s tough start is the loss of several key players. The Red Stars played their first two games without Davidson (right knee), Casey Krueger (maternity leave), Morgan Gautrat (left calf), Mallory Pugh (concussion protocol), and Watt (right knee).
Four of the five will miss tonight’s game, with Pugh having been taken off of Chicago’s injury report. Other players missing for Chicago include Chelsie Dawber (left hip), Alyssa Mautz (left hip), Sarah Woldmoe (maternity leave), and Arin Wright (right hip).
The Pride are still missing Marta (left knee) and Caitlin Cosme (D45). Additionally, Kerry Abello has entered COVID protocol and will miss tonight’s game. Meggie Dougherty Howard (right hip), Parker Roberts (right ankle), Kylie Strom (illness), and Amy Turner (right ankle) are listed as questionable.
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Celia, Carrie Lawrence, Toni Pressley, Courtney Petersen.
Defensive Midfielders: Viviana Villacorta, Megan Montefusco.
Midfielders: Darian Jenkins, Gunny Jonsdottir, Sydney Leroux.
Forwards: Leah Pruitt.
Bench: Kaylie Collins, Abi Kim, Julie Doyle, Amy Turner, Mikayla Cluff, Erika Tymrak, Angharad James, Chelsee Washington, Jordyn Listro.
Chicago Red Stars (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher.
Defendres: Tatumn Milazzo, Zoe Morse, Kayla Sharples, Bianca St. Georges.
Midfielders: Yuki Nagasato, Vanessa DiBernardo, Danielle Colaprico, Sarah Griffith.
Forwards: Ava Cook, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Jillenne Aguilera, Emily Boyd, Samantha Fisher, Channing Foster, Amanda Kowalski, Mikenna McManus, Mallory Pugh, Ella Stevens.
REF: Danielle Chesky.
AR1: Rachel Smith.
AR2: Miguel Martes.
4TH: Adam Brzozowiec.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (U.S.), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!