Playing in their second game of the NWSL Fall Series, the Orlando Pride fell 3-1 on the road to the Houston Dash on Saturday night at BBVA Compass Stadium.
“The players tried really hard tonight; there’s no denying they physically ran and they gave everything that they needed to give from that perspective,” Head Coach Marc Skinner said after the match,” We weren’t intelligent without the ball enough tonight. We weren’t intelligent with the ball enough. It looked a little bit disconnected tonight. You’re playing against a team that has senior players in every position and also seasoned veterans in the NWSL so, they were slicker than us tonight. A better cohesion, better moments.”
Skinner continued, “We can be proud of what the team have put out on the field in terms of their effort, when it comes down to the basics. You can look at what they give you in their energy level and their commitment and I think that wasn’t missing. So, of course I’m really disappointed with many factors within the game, but I’m really pleased with the energy and the effort of the players.”
Nichelle Prince opened the scoring in the 27th minute for the Dash after making a dashing run past the Orlando backline, off a ball sent from Sophie Schmidt, lobbing the ball over Ashlyn Harris to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
But the Pride equalized moments before halftime when Marisa Viggiano, off a ball sent in by Chelsee Washington, made a run into the box before striking it towards the top-right corner of the net to tie the game 1-1 for Orlando.
In the second half, the Dash re-took the lead in the 55th minute when Schmidt converted a penalty kick pass Harris. Shea Groom secured the victory when she finished off a play from inside the box in the 72nd minute.
The Pride were without players Sydney Leroux and Kristen Edmonds, who did not travel with the team citing COVID-19 concerns within the Dash organization.
“When you’re talking about health, we’ve got players on our team that went through a pretty traumatic experience,” Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said after the match, “Households were separated, children were testing positive. There’s a lot of emotional trauma that our team went through and I’m not going to sugar coat that. We still have players who are not 100 percent after testing positive for COVID. It’s been a very difficult time for our Club and our players. We went through pretty tough things together, collectively and individually when we were quarantined and people tested positive. You know, Syd[ney Leroux] has a family. She has a family to take care of and they rely on her and she didn’t feel comfortable and we support her with that. The team didn’t feel comfortable.
Harris continued, “There’s no surprise that a lot of things were surfacing on the internet of the Houston team not doing their job social distancing and being out and about without masks. After what we went through, the guidelines we have been going and abiding by, we don’t leave our home. We don’t go to restaurants. We don’t go out in public. We limit our grocery store once a week. This has been difficult and to see people out and about not taking our safety into account after the traumatic experience we had, I don’t blame players just saying ‘It’s not for me, I’m not going.’ And that’s what Kristen [Edmonds] and Syd did and it sucks and this is the reality, but this is COVID. Everyone has to do the right thing and whether they do or don’t, we can’t do anything about it. But when it comes to health and safety, everyone has to make their own individual decision and we support that and so does our Club. Our Club completely supports it and that’s the decision that they made. It wasn’t easy for any of us, but we missed them tonight, but we also support their decision.”
Up next for Orlando
The Pride take on the Houston Dash again, this time at Osceola County Stadium on Friday, Oct. 9. Kickoff for the match is scheduled at 5 p.m. and will be played behind closed doors.
27′ – Nichelle Prince, assisted by Sophie Schmidt (HOU)
45+3′ – Marisa Viggiano, assisted by Chelsee Washington (ORL)
55′ – Sophie Schmidt, penalty kick (HOU)
72′ – Shea Groom (HOU)
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Carrie Lawrence (Ally Haran, 88′), Ali Krieger, Toni Pressley (Konya Plummer, 66′), Courtney Petersen; Marisa Viggiano, Jordyn Listro, Chelsee Washington, Abby Elinsky; Savannah Uveges (Deneisha Blackwood, 46′), Marta.
Pride Bench: Brittany Wilson, Kate Howarth.
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