How to Love Your NWSL Team When it Doesn’t Love You Back

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When I was 19, I saw Brokeback Mountain for the first time. I felt my heart crack open when Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist told Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar “I wish I knew how to quit you.”

I didn’t know that years later I would whisper that same phrase every time my team gave up stupid goal after stupid goal.

I love the Orlando Pride.

I have loved them since they were a whispered rumor on the wind. I have loved them through the floral snapbacks that sold out in ten minutes. I have loved them through the social media hashtag #NippleFC. I have even loved them as the front office put together the most hodgepodge group of players known to man. I have loved them through the trades that broke my heart and the signings that made me scream from the rooftops. I have bought merchandise, tickets and posted them all over social media. I love this team.

The problem is that even as I love this team, this team does not love me back. It’s taken some time but it is time to accept that. It’s time to accept all these awful turn-overs and silly giveaways. It’s time to accept the terrific shots on goal more often than not turn out to be nothing more than shots to the parking lot. It’s time to accept that the majority of the starters just need more time and room to grow. It’s time to accept that maybe the front office needs to blow the roster to Kingdom Come and rebuild. 

If you saw the Portland vs. Orlando game, then you saw maybe the greatest game the Pride has had since 2018. Rallying back from a 2-0 deficit to tying the game 3-3 in stoppage time was nothing short of magnificent. But to do that you have to ignore how those three goals came about. Haley Kopmeyer had one of the biggest brain farts I’ve seen since AD Franch picked up the ball and Alyssa Naeher sent that back-kick ball to Jenni Hermoso.

Allowing Portland to get on the board so early was a sign of things to come and going into half time only down one goal was strictly thanks to God’s infinite mercy. Marta, who seems to be returning to her goal scoring form, had enough of her team and sent in two bangers to make it 2-2 early in the second half. Portland would score again and then Erin Greening would begin her legacy, tying the game 3-3 in stoppage time.

And just as I’m getting ready to celebrate getting a point and being  obnoxious to all my coworkers, Portland would get that last second goal thanks to Kopmeyer once again being asleep at the wheel. She was so bad I’m beginning to think she’s color blind and thought the Portland players were actually her real teammates. I spent the rest of my shift pouting and finally having a come to Jesus talk with myself about Orlando.

It’s time to accept that no matter how much I love this team, it’s just not a very good team right now. And that’s not fully on the players. Marc Skinner came in with a good pedigree as a coach and a very specific game plan. Maybe if given enough time, he can get all the players to do what he has been drawing up for them to do. Given time the front office can change and make solid improvements to the roster to give help to the players who we all know can be great. Given time, this team can and should make it back to the playoffs and beyond.

Given time, this team will love me the way I love it. 

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I feel your pain.

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