The Orlando Pride (3-5-4, 14 points) wrap up a two-game road trip tonight as they face the Kansas City Current (5-4-3, 18 points) at Children’s Mercy Park. This is the second and final time that the two teams will face off during the 2022 NWSL regular season.
Here’s all you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Current joined the NWSL last season after its ownership group bought the Utah Royals and relocated the team to Kansas City. It’s the second NWSL team in the city — FC Kansas City played there from 2013 to 2017 before moving to Utah — and the team was known as NWSL Kansas City for its inaugural season.
The Pride and Current have only played three games against each other, all in the regular season. Orlando has a 2-0-1 record in those three games and has outscored tonight’s opponent 6-3.
The two teams most recently met on May 14 at Exploria Stadium. The Pride took the lead early in the second half when Gunny Jonsdottir converted to give the Pride a 51st-minute lead. Elyse Bennett responded in the 78th minute and the visitors appeared to win the game a minute into injury time through Kristen Hamilton. However, Kylie Strom was pulled down in the box five minutes later, resulting in a penalty. With Marta injured, the only player willing to step up to take the penalty was center back Toni Pressley. Despite later admitting she was aiming for the top corner, Pressley drilled the ball into the roof of the net, pulling out a 2-2 draw.
The teams played twice during the 2021 NWSL season with the first game occurring on May 30 at Exploria Stadium. In the 16th minute, Courtney Petersen found Alex Morgan just outside the six-yard box and the striker headed in the game’s lone goal. It appeared as though it was cleared off the line but the referee said it went over and the Pride won 1-0.
The Pride and Courage met again on June 23 at Legends Field in Kansas City. The Pride had a weakened squad as then-coach Marc Skinner left some key players at home, preparing to lose them to the Olympics. It looked to be costly when Mariana Larroquette gave the hosts the lead in the eighth minute of first-half injury time. But the Pride responded well.
Two minutes after Larroquette’s goal, Sydney Leroux’s shot took a deflection off a defender and went in to make it 1-1. Shortly after halftime, Leroux scored on a great individual effort from just outside the box. Marta then scored the goal of the game, beating Kansas City goalkeeper Abby Smith from the top of the center circle, lifting the Pride to a 3-1 win.
Seb Hines got his interim period as head coach off to a rocky start, dropping two consecutive games. However, after arguably the team’s worst performance of the season — a 6-0 loss to the Portland Thorns — the Pride are playing some of their best soccer this season. They’ve claimed points in each of the last three games, which includes a 2-2 draw against Racing Louisville in Daytona, a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash, and a scoreless draw against the Washington Spirit on July 17.
The team will only get stronger as they will soon get two additions to the squad. The point streak has come with the absence of captain Gunny Jonsdottir, who has been away with Iceland competing in the Euros. The team’s attack will also be bolstered by the addition of 18-year-old striker Haley Bugeja.
While the Pride are still trying to climb up the standings and into one of the six playoff positions, the Current already hold one of those coveted spots. The team is currently fifth in the league table but only one point above seventh.
The Current have been flying coming into this game, currently on a seven-game undefeated streak (5-0-2), with the team’s last loss coming on May 25 to OL Reign. They’ve won their last three games, the last of which was a 1-0 win over OL Reign at home on July 17.
The Current are led on the attacking end by Hamilton, who has scored four goals. The team’s other top goal scorers include Lo’eau LaBonta, with three, and Bennett and CeCe Kizer with two. Additionally, LaBonta and Bennett lead the team with a pair of assists each.
“(Kansas City) are on a really good run right now,” Hines said about the game. “I think it is seven games unbeaten, but we have to focus on ourselves. We are building momentum after each game. Going to Washington was a difficult place to go play and we got a positive result. Would have been nice to get a win, but we will take the positives out of it. It is another clean sheet. Going into Kansas, we have to build on what we have done in the last three games. We know that there are not a lot of games left, so we need points. It is another opportunity to go get three points and we have to take advantage of that.”
The Pride continue to be without Marta (knee), Leah Pruitt (knee), and Parker Roberts (foot) for tonight’s game. Additionally, Darian Jenkins (knee) is listed as questionable. The Current have a more extensive injury list that includes Lynn Williams (leg), Mallory Weber (leg), Sam Mewis (leg), Chloe Logarzo (leg), Alex Loera (leg), and Kristen Edmonds (COVID protocol).
[Note: This story has been edited to reflect a change in Kansas City’s availability report due to Kristen Edmonds entering COVID protocols.]
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Kylie Strom, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, Celia.
Defensive Midfielders: Meggie Dougherty Howard, Jordyn Listro.
Midfielders: Kerry Abello, Erika Tymrak, Viviana Villacorta.
Forwards: Julie Doyle.
Bench: Anna Moorhouse, Thais Reiss, Abi Kim, Courtney Petersen, Mikayla Cluff, Toni Pressley, Caitlin Cosme, Chelsee Washington, Gunny Jonsdottir.
Kansas City Current (3-1-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Adrianna Franch.
Defenders: Taylor Leach, Elizabeth Ball, Addisyn Merrick.
Defensive Midfielders: Desiree Scott.
Midfielders: Hailie Mace, Victoria Pickett, Lo’eau LaBonta, Kate Del Fava.
Forwards: Kristen Hamilton, CeCe Kizer.
Bench: Cassie Miller, Maddie Nolf, Chardonnay Curran, Jaycie Johnson, Izzy Rodriguez, Jenna Winebrenner, Elyse Bennett, Addie McCain, Claire Lavogez.
REF: Greg Dopka
AR1: Matt Trotter
AR2: Shane Kennard
4TH: Stephanie MacFarland
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Children’s Mercy Park — Kansas City, KS.
Streaming: Paramount+ (USA), Twitch (International).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!