Training report | Pride players see playoffs as real goal in inaugural season

If midfielder Kaylyn Kyle’s attitude is indicative of the rest of her team’s, expect a team to enter its inaugural season in the National Women’s Soccer League with high expectations.

The 27-year-old Orlando Pride player told media Tuesday after the team’s training session at Moores Station that her personal expectations for the team are to make the playoffs.

“It’s just getting out of the regular season and making the playoffs in the first year. That would be pretty special,” Kyle said. “You look at our team on paper and we have the players. It’s just putting what’s on paper onto the field, and we’ve had an extremely short amount of time together with players in and out with national teams… It’s not going to be perfect in the first match, it’s not going to be perfect in the second match. So, I think for us, it’s just staying focused and knowing things aren’t going to be perfect in the beginning of the season.”

Kyle said the team has had “such an easy adjustment” with regard to team chemistry in the newly-formed squad.

“I don’t know if that’s a scary or good thing,” Kyle said half-jokingly. “Everyone just has such a positive attitude, and I think that stems from the organization … I mean, what owner comes out here and watches a training session not even on our own training ground.”

The Canadian women’s national teamer attributed team-chemistry success to Pride head coach Tom Sermanni. Between the players and Sermanni, there’s a high level of mutual respect.

“Everyone really respects him as a coach and as a person,” Kyle said. “And he respects us, not only as players, but as people as well.”

Said Kyle about facing her 2015 team, the Portland Thorns, in the season-opener: “It’s exciting. I mean, any time you go to Portland and play in front of a great crowd, it’s an amazing feeling, and, you know, they have a really good thing going there, both on the men’s and female sides. It’s going to be exciting going back there. It’s going to be a great game, and, hopefully, we can get our first win in Portland — that’d be pretty special.”

Having played in Portland as a Thorn, Kyle understands the atmosphere that the fans bring. Prior to her team’s season-opener on Saturday, Kyle said it’s about helping the younger girls who aren’t acclimated to that kind of environment.

“You know, talking to the younger girls who haven’t played in big crowds before and calming them down,” Kyle said. “Because it’s a tough place to go in and play. The fans are crazy. They chant the whole time, they’re screaming and yelling at you. So, it’s just getting everyone prepared for that, mentally and physically.”

The Pride will host their media day on Thursday and will open their inaugural NWSL season when they travel to face Portland Saturday at 10 p.m. EST.

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