Following a 2-2 draw against expansion club Racing Louisville FC, the Orlando Pride returns to take on the newly rebranded Gotham FC on Wednesday night, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at Exploria Stadium and will broadcast on CBS Sports Network.
“We’ve played now, we’ve got experience playing so hopefully that will show. We can be a little bit sharper, we can set the tone within our backyard. Being in Orlando will be special for us and I have no doubt about that,” Head Coach Marc Skinner said on Monday. “We have to make this home a real fortress for our performances, that will give us the best chance to win. Use the wonderful support of being in front of our fans again to drive us forward and then from there, when we are at home, play as a force to be reckoned with.”
With the Pride having played their first match on the road, they will return home to play in front of fans for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. In 2020, despite playing two matches at home, no fans were allowed to attend the NWSL Fall Series games.
“It’s always such a gift to play at home in our stadium,” Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said after training Monday. “I am excited for the players who haven’t got to do that yet and I’m excited to see familiar faces. I love the stadium and I love the atmosphere so getting the opportunity to play in front of all our amazing fans is always just such a gift that we treasure. I’m excited for a lot of the rookies and I’m hoping that the fans continue to show up and support us and making it a very difficult atmosphere to play in front of for New Jersey to come in and hopefully feel the presence of our fans.”
For Gotham FC, this will be their fist match of 2021, having not played this past weekend. The team will be missing their star midfielder, Carli Lloyd, with her being with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
“I think we’ve put a little bit of a disadvantage again because we’ve got a team that hasn’t played so we we don’t get any video on them,” Skinner said of Gotham FC. “They get they get a head start that haven’t played so they’re fresh, so it’s the way that we shoot that lens so we’ve played now so we’ve got experience of playing so hopefully that will show, we can be a little bit sharper we can set the tone within our backyard because being in Orlando will be special for us and there’s no doubt about that.”
The Pride will also be without national team players Alex Morgan (USA) Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir (Iceland) and Erin McLeod (Canada), who remain with their respective national teams. The three players are expected to be back for the Pride’s next home match.
Orlando will be back home for the third match of the Challenge Cup to host the Washington Spirit next Wednesday, April 21 at 7:00 p.m.
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