For Marc Skinner, he has noted it’s going to be 343 days since the last time the Orlando Pride last played a competitive match when his team travels to take on the North Carolina Courage on Saturday in their first of four games in the NWSL Fall Series.
Kickoff for the match is slated for 1 p.m. and will televise nationally on CBS.
“One of the things that we discussed as a group, before we came back on once we understood that we’ll go into the Fall Series, was that we would like to focus on having a good end to the year for the players,” Skinner told reporters during a conference call via Zoom on Thursday.
Skinner added: “And the tumultuous year that we’ve had. A lot of challenges as everybody has in the world, not just in the world of soccer, that missing out on the [Challenge Cup] was a real challenge for us, so I’m really really pleased to get the players back together, back on the field.”
The Pride last played on October 12 during the 2019 season finale, which ended in a 2-2 draw against Reign FC — now known as OL Reign — at Exploria Stadium.
This year for the Pride, however, hasn’t gone exactly as planned.
The NWSL delayed the start of the 2020 regular season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and days before participating in the NWSL Challenge Cup in Utah last summer, the Pride were forced to withdraw after several players and staff tested positive for coronavirus.
That was followed with an exodus of Pride players loaned outside of the NWSL for the remainder of the calendar year, leaving the club with the decision to sign seven short-term contract players ahead of the four-game Fall Series.
Skinner looks to senior players
Marc Skinner will, however, depend on his established senior players that remain with the Pride for the upcoming four exhibition games.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, defenders Ali Krieger and Toni Pressley, midfielder Marta and forwards Kristen Edmonds and Sydney Leroux will be key pieces for the Pride in the upcoming four games, according to Skinner.
“What I’m going to rely on the seniors to do is to make sure that in positions, and places on the field to calm down the players that have very little experience,” said Skinner.
Skinner also lauded Leroux’s experience: “What we are welcoming back in Sydney especially is a player that when the moments hit, when when you need to take a chance, so you only have a limited number of chances, when you take a chance, she can make that chance and she can take that chance.”
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