Welcome to your match thread as the Orlando Pride (5-5-6, 21 points) host OL Reign (6-4-6, 24 points). This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the two teams this season. They’ll finish the regular season against each other in Seattle, WA on Oct. 1.
Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s game.
The Pride and Reign have met 12 times since the Pride joined the NWSL in 2016. All of the meetings have taken place in the regular season and the Pride hold a record of 1-4-7 in the overall series and are 1-1-4 at home.
The most recent meeting between the Pride and Reign occurred on Sept. 26, 2021 in Washington. It was all Reign as Bethany Balcer opened the scoring in the third minute and Eugenie Le Sommer netted a first-half brace with goals in the 28th and 32nd minutes. That was all the hosts needed as they beat the Pride 3-0. The first game between the two last year was on July 24 in Orlando. Jess Fishlock gave the visitors the lead in the 10th minute and Tziarra King doubled the lead in the 51st minute. Ashlyn Harris saved a penalty to keep it close, but the Pride couldn’t get on the scoreboard and fell 2-0.
The two teams didn’t meet in 2020 due to the regular season being canceled but played three times in 2019. On April 21 in Washington, Alanna Kennedy gave the Pride the lead in the sixth minute. However, Balcer equalized in the 21st minute and the teams drew 1-1. On Sept. 7 in Washington, Reign FC struck early with a pair of goals by Darian Jenkins in the third and 12th minutes. Beverly Yanez made it 3-0 in the 17th minute, putting the game away. The Pride did get one back in the 79th minute through a Camila penalty, but fell 3-1. The teams ended that season against each other on Oct. 12 in Orlando. Rachel Hill gave the Pride the lead in the 24th minute, but Reign FC responded with goals by Jenkins and Jodie Taylor. They held onto a 2-1 lead until Marta equalized in the 86th minute, resulting in a 2-2 draw.
The 2018 season also saw the teams meet three times. The first was on April 28 in Orlando. Allie Long opened the scoring in the 33rd minute but Marta equalized in the 61st and the teams drew 1-1. They met again on June 3 in Seattle but there was no scoring as it ended in a scoreless draw. The final game between the two that year was on July 21 in Orlando. Toni Pressley gave the Pride the lead in the 21st minute but Taylor scored in the 70th minute to end the game in a 1-1 draw.
The Pride and Reign played twice in 2017. Yanez gave the Reign the lead in the first meeting on May 21 in Seattle. But Marta scored early in the second half to claim a 1-1 draw. They met again on Sept. 7 and it was the same result. It looked like the Pride had taken all three points when Alex Morgan struck two minutes into second-half injury time, but Fishlock equalized two minutes later and the teams drew 1-1.
The 2016 season saw the Pride and Reign play for the first time and the first meeting was on May 8 in Orlando. Sarah Hagan scored in the 11th minute and Lianne Sanderson doubled the lead in the 87th minute as the Pride won 2-0. The return game was in Seattle on July 23 and was an offensive onslaught. The Reign went up 2-0 at halftime with goals by Kim Little and Fishlock and made it 3-0 just after halftime with a goal by Manon Melis. Jasmyne Spencer got one back in the 52nd minute, but a goal by Kendall Fletcher and a Pressley own goal made it 5-1. Kristen Edmonds got a second for the Pride in the 89th minute but the hosts won 5-2.
The Pride are arguably playing their best soccer all year. They are currently on a seven-game unbeaten run that dates back to the team’s 2-2 draw with Racing Louisville in Daytona on July 3. Four of their first five games of the streak were draws but they’ve come away with all three points in the previous two games.
On Aug. 13 in San Diego, a handball in the box allowed Meggie Dougherty Howard to convert a penalty and the Pride won 1-0. Last Saturday night, the team traveled to Philadelphia to take on NJ/NY Gotham FC. Celia scored in the 49th minute to give the Pride the lead and Ally Watt doubled it just after coming on as the Pride beat Gotham 2-1.
The unbeaten run and two-game winning streak has completely turned the season around. The Pride now find themselves in eighth in the league and, as the first game of the weekend, will be in a playoff spot if they claim all three points.
Standing in the way is OL Reign. The Seattle-based club sits in fifth and is just three points ahead of the Pride. Tonight’s visitors have claimed points in three of their last four games, resulting in seven points. They most recently played on Aug. 14, beating Gotham FC 4-1 in Seattle.
On the attacking end, the Reign are led by Balcer and Fishlock, who have four goals each. Rose Lavelle and Megan Rapinoe are just behind with three goals this season and King has three.
Goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce is currently tied with Portland Thorns goalkeeper Bella Bixby for the league lead in clean sheets with six. Her 15 goals conceded this year is third fewest among NWSL goalkeepers that have played at least half of their team’s games.
“It will be a good game. Both teams like to play,” Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines said. “They’re a top team. They’ve got probably one of the deepest squads in the league with some exciting players and they’ll be a really good test for us just to see where we’re at.”
The Pride are without seven players this week. In addition to Marta (knee), Parker Roberts (foot), and Darian Jenkins (knee), Chelsee Washington (ankle), Kaylie Collins (wrist), and Toni Pressley (COVID protocol) will miss tonight’s game. Meanwhile, OL Reign will be without Angelina (knee), Tobin Heath (leg), and Quinn (upper body).
Orlando Pride (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Erin McLeod.
Defenders: Celia, Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, Kylie Strom.
Defensive Midfielders: Meggie Dougherty Howard, Jordyn Listro.
Midfielders: Erika Tymrak, Viviana Villacorta, Kerry Abello.
Forwards: Julie Doyle.
Bench: Anna Moorhouse, Gunny Jonsdottir, Ally Watt, Courtney Petersen, Mikayla Cluff, Haley Hanson, Haley Bugeja, Leah Pruitt, Thais Reiss.
OL Reign (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Phallon Tullis-Joyce.
Defenders: Lauren Barnes, Sam Hiatt, Alana Cook, Sofia Huerta.
Midfielders: Olivia Van der Jagt, Rose Lavelle, Jess Fishlock.
Forwards: Megan Rapinoe, Jordyn Huitema, Bethany Balcer.
Bench: Olivia Athens, Marley Canales, Laurel Ivory, Tziarra King, Veronica Latsko, Jimena Lopez, Phoebe McClernon, Sinclaire Miramontez, Nikki Stanton.
REF: Elvis Osmanovic.
AR1: Ben Rigel.
AR2: Jennifer Dumaine.
4TH: Sarieni Vasquez.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: Paramount+ (USA), Twitch (International).
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand and the Orlando Pride’s official Twitter feed (@ORLPride).
Enjoy the match. Go Pride!