The Orlando Pride will head to the Pacific Northwest once again this week to take on the highest scoring team in the league, the Seattle Reign.
The Pride, coming off the team’s first win of the season, take a ten-match road winless streak to Memorial Stadium. Orlando’s last road win, which is also the only road win in team history, came against the Houston Dash – ironically in Week 6. The talk from the Pride going in to face the Reign is to focus on their game more so than worrying on what Seattle plans to do in the match.
The Pride have been able to find some consistency on the backline with the budding partnership of Alanna Kennedy and Toni Pressley. The number of goals Orlando has given up has been significantly reduced since Pressley fought her way into the starting XI.
When asked if she can further improve this season Pressley shared, “I think I have a few more levels.”
They will need to concentrate on communication to close down passing lanes from Nahomi Kawasumi, Week 4 Player of the Week, to United States Women’s National Team player – and current leader in the golden boot race – Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the high-powered Seattle offense. Last week Orlando’s lone defensive lapse gave Debinha the opportunity to keep the Courage in the match longer than the Pride would have liked, and a team like Seattle will make Orlando pay if they make any mistakes defensively.
The Pride will attempt to dictate the pace of the match against the Reign and utilize the pace of their strikers to challenge goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer and her backline.
As Coach Tom Sermanni stated in his post-match comments on Mother’s Day, “We just need to make sure we get a defensive structure set up and sorted properly. If you look at our backline, four out of our five are all internationals so we’ve got a decent backline. And if we can get our tactics right, I think we’ve got the players who can exploit the lack of mobility that Seattle has.”
All eyes will once again be on the Orlando midfielders, as Monica is still working her way back from a bone bruise. Dani Weatherholt’s defensive performance and ability to distribute the ball forward has provided space to Camila to go forward as Kristen Edmonds has provide cover for her in the midfield.
As defensive leader, Ali Krieger added in the post-match presser, “If we are good and compact and organized defensively I don’t think that they’re going to have good opportunities but you have to have the ball to do that so hopefully we’re going to have more possession and we’re going to take care of that.”
Playing with the ball more will limit the chances Seattle has in pushing the ball into their attacking third. Additionally, the Pride will need to congest the midfield and passing lanes for the Reign.
If the Pride end up playing the long ball on top, the team will not be playing their game as they have claimed they need to do to get a result in Seattle. Sermanni will have several options at attack. One of his focuses this week, as he stated, is exploiting the lack of mobility on the Reign backline. This is where the tactics will have to be right, and the Pride may look to surprise Seattle with a new look on top, as scoring on the road will be vital to keep pace. Marta will look to create opportunities to Chioma Ubogagu, who can also keep possession of the ball, and Danica Evans, the rookie standout for the Pride.
Orlando has struggled to get results away from home, and this week’s opportunity will be a challenge for them. But the team is brimming with confidence, and if Sermanni’s game plan can give fits to Laura Harvey’s side like they think it can, the Pride will leave Memorial Stadium with a positive result.