The Orlando Pride (3-5-6, 15 points) had to come back twice, but managed to pull out a 2-2 draw against Angel City FC (5-5-3, 18 points) at Exploria Stadium. Former Orlando fullback Ali Riley gave the visitors the lead just before the half but Julie Doyle came off the bench to score her second goal in as many games in the second half. Angel City responded with a goal off a set piece by Cari Roccaro, but an own goal by Paige Nielsen in second-half injury time caused the game to end in a draw.
Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines made only two changes to the team that drew 2-2 with the Kansas City Current last weekend. Starting center back Megan Montefusco was suspended due to yellow card accumulation and replaced by Toni Pressley. Additionally, Darian Jenkins returned to the lineup, replacing Doyle. As a result, the back four behind Erin McLeod consisted of Celia, Pressley, Carrie Lawrence, and Kylie Strom. The midfield was made up of Meggie Dougherty Howard, Jordyn Listro, Erika Tymrak, Viviana Villacorta, and Kerry Abello, with Jenkins up top.
Your Totally Rad Starting XI @orlandohealth | #ORLvLA | #PrideOfOrlando pic.twitter.com/YdJxdJcEqq— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) August 7, 2022
The first chance of the game was for the Pride in the fourth minute. A quick pass by Villacorta allowed Strom to find Abello in the box. The midfielder attempted a shot from the left of goal, but it skipped across the six-yard box and out for a goal kick.
In the 24th minute, Tymrak found Dougherty Howard near the box. The Pride midfielder attempted to curl the ball around Angel City goalkeeper Didi Haracic, but it was deflected out of play.
Three minutes later, Strom nearly found Tymrak in the box. It was a good run by Tymrak and a good ball through by Strom, but it was a bit too far and Haracic was able to beat the Pride midfielder to it.
Tymrak had a great chance in the 29th minute when Strom gave her the ball inside the Angel City box. The midfielder should’ve been able to put the shot on target, but it somehow managed to flick up onto her arm. The referee didn’t call a handball, but it provided Angel City with an opportunity to clear.
After messing up her first golden opportunity, Tymrak was given a chance to redeem herself in the 39th minute. She received the ball in nearly the exact position as her 29th-minute chance. This shot was hit towards the goal but was well over the crossbar.
Angel City didn’t have many great chances in the first half, but made the Pride pay for missing theirs. In the 40th minute, Riley received the ball on the left. It appeared as though she would attempt a cross, but instead went for goal and beat McLeod to the far post.
What a hit, @RileyThree!@weareangelcity | #AngelCityFC pic.twitter.com/uMyxASqhqv— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 7, 2022
After failing to score in her 24 appearances with the Pride, the right back has now scored twice in her last three games with Angel City.
The Pride did have one last chance to equalize before the end of the half. Jenkins cut inside from the right and into the box, creating enough space to get a shot off. But it was blocked and the Pride went into the break down 1-0.
The visitors had slightly more possession in the first half (50.9%-49.1%) but the Pride had more shots (7-4), crosses (8-2), and corners (2-0) in the first 45 minutes.
“Seb just told us to play with courage,” Abello said about the halftime talk. “You know, we need to want the ball. Everyone needs to want to get on the ball and turn and go forward. And not that we weren’t playing with courage, but I think we needed even more of a drive and Seb, he believed in us.”
The visitors nearly doubled their lead right after the break. Coming on as a halftime substitute, Simone Charley was one-on-one with Lawrence heading into the Pride box after a long ball by Megan Reid. The center back fell, allowing Charley to be free in on goal. However, she lost control of the ball, allowing the Pride to escape the dangerous situation.
The Pride should’ve had the equalizer in the 49th minute when some nice moves by Abello created enough space to send the ball into the box. The cross sailed over the head of Haracic to Jenkins at the back post with a wide open goal in front of her. She headed the ball down, but it was straight down, resulting in it bouncing over the crossbar instead of into the open net from just a few feet in front of the goal line.
In the 63rd minute, Tymrak played a ball into the box, looking for Abello at the near post. The ball was a bit too far for the midfielder and Tyler Lussi knocked it out of play. The ensuing corner was to the near post where Celia and Lussi came together. However, the ball bounced out of play and Angel City was able to clear.
The Pride got their equalizer a minute later. It started with a Doyle cross that was headed on towards goal by Tymrak. The shot was blocked and ended up with Savannah McCaskill at the top of the box facing the goal. Pressured by Villacorta, McCaskill played it back to Nielsen. However, Doyle beat her to the ball and shot into the roof of the net.
Julie Doyle pulls @ORLPride level! pic.twitter.com/DcuNni2jP1— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2022
It was Doyle’s second goal of the season and her second in two games. She also scored the second goal last week in the Pride’s 2-2 draw with the Current.
“She’s been terrific,” Hines said about Doyle’s current goal streak. “She was fortunate enough to start off having given a really good performance against Kansas, but these are the decisions you have to make as a head coach. So she made an immediate impact and that’s all we can ask. When players come onto the field as a substitute, can you make an impact in a game? And she certainly did that today. With getting a goal and making difficult runs, finding the spaces.
“We’re talking about a rookie. We’re improving her, developing her. You know, going through a slight bit of adversity, how are you going to react not starting? And she showed today, her reaction was brilliant.”
Angel City didn’t wait long to answer, doing so in the 72nd minute. First, Charley got her head to a Lussi cross, putting it on target. McLeod did well to get down and knock it out of play for a corner kick.
The ensuing corner kick was flicked on by the head of Nielsen. It landed at the feet of Villacorta and Roccaro. Villacorta was unable to get her foot to the ball and Roccaro quickly shot on target, putting it past McLeod and giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
.@cari_roccaro puts @weareangelcity back in front! pic.twitter.com/oVfQEDZLcM— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2022
The Pride nearly found another equalizer in the 79th minute when Strom played Abello behind the Angel City defense. The midfielder shot with her second touch, but sent it just wide of the post.
The hosts had another good opportunity in the 87th minute when Mikayla Cluff was fouled by Jun Endo. Thais Reiss stepped up to take the free kick but sent it straight into the wall. The ball bounced right back to Reiss, who sent a second shot into the wall, allowing Angel City to clear.
The Pride continued to pressure, looking for a second equalizer. They were given a boost when the fourth official held up five minutes in injury time. They didn’t need much of those five minutes as they found a second equalizer inside the first minute of added time.
The team worked the ball out to Abello on the left, with the final ball coming from Reiss. Abello quickly sent a hard cross into the box, where Doyle was making a run and Cluff was heading towards the back post. Nielsen got to the ball before either Pride attacker, but knocked the ball into her own net, evening the game at 2-2.
Not so fast! @ORLPride equalize in the 90th! pic.twitter.com/FheWBEkRjZ— National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL) August 8, 2022
“I was just so thankful,” Abello said about having a part in the equalizer. “I was definitely a little disappointed at some of my chances missed earlier in the game. So my one goal is just to make a difference, make something happen. You know, it’s not always going to be pretty and at the end of the day, it was a deflection but I was happy with the chance I took to just drive across the goal.”
After the equalizer, the Pride continued on the attack. Two minutes into injury time, Doyle made a good run toward the end line and won a corner. The ensuing set piece was knocked out of play for a second corner, but that one was cleared away.
The final chance of the game for the Pride came in the fourth minute of added time when Jasmyne Spencer fouled Reiss at the top of the box. Tymrak took the free kick but sent it wide.
Despite barely hanging on to a draw in the final minutes, it was Angel City that had the last chance of the game. Endo found former Pride player Dani Weatherholt in the box and the midfielder shot on goal. But it was right at McLeod who made the save and ended the game.
Other than the scoreline, it was a dominant performance by the Pride. They ended the game with more possession (52.6%-47.4%), shots (16-9), corners (7-4), and crosses (28-9). The difference in the game was the lack of shooting precision as the Pride only put one shot on target and Angel City put four on frame.
“Entertaining. Happening more often than not,” Hines said about the game. “I said in pregame that what you’ll find today is two teams that are both wanting to win, needing to win to get three points. We’re obviously chasing Angel City. Obviously chasing the playoffs as well. So I felt that we dominated the game in possession. Even out of possession I think we’re in controlled spaces, that they were patient in trying to pull us out of positions. But you know, we’re allowing the right people to have time and space on the ball. And there was a few little adjustments that we had to make at halftime. We had to increase the energy on our shifts across to keep them spaces tight and the players did that. But the game is all down to goals and we created a lot of good opportunities to score. We have to take them and when we do take them, we’re going to be even more of a threat than we showed today.”
This draw is another point for a team pushing for the sixth and last playoff spot. And while the team will be happy to extend its unbeaten run to five games, they’ll also look back at several missed opportunities that could have resulted in the Pride claiming all three points.
“It’s the hardest part of the game, right? Putting the ball in the goal,” Hines said about the missed chances. “And I don’t know if it’s repetition in training. The players have showed that they can put the ball in the goal in training. We created them sort of opportunities in training as well.”
This is the third game this season that the Pride have come back to score an equalizer in second-half injury time. They previously did it on May 14 against the Current and on May 27 against the Washington Spirit — both at Exploria Stadium.
“I think it’s our leaders,” Abello said about the team’s ability to come back. “You know, I think it’s players that really step up and our leaders, not just our older players, but our younger players coming on. Thais came on today and brought so much energy and a voice and arrangement and I think that’s what really drives us late in the game. I wish it wasn’t always coming down to an equalizer at the end of the day. But I think it says so much about our team and our identity and the work we put in at training.”
The draw keeps the Pride in playoff contention, six points behind OL Reign for the final playoff spot. However, the Pride have a game in hand.
They’ll look to extend their unbeaten run to six games next Saturday night when they travel out west to face expansion side San Diego Wave FC for the first time.