For the first time since the 2018 regular season, the Orlando Pride are back on a winning run, and this time, sitting atop the NWSL standings.
On Sunday, the momentum continued following their mid week win over Portland. A first-half goal from Marta was enough to power Orlando past Kansas City by a score of 1-0 at Exploria Stadium, extending the club’s unbeaten start to the season to four games and clinching a third consecutive victory.
“Nine-point week, cloud nine,” said head coach Marc Skinner following the game. “… That’s probably the best win not technically, but the attitude, commitment to play for Orlando Pride. To change the ethos of the culture of the club of our team has just been the most refreshing win through our team that we can you can even imagine.”
Skinner added: “So wonderful, wonderful group. Collective effort, and I honestly, I said it last time couldn’t be prouder of them but you got to win ugly, especially on a three-game week, and to take nine points is something that, you know, we couldn’t have done in year one but now we can, and I’m so proud of every single member of staff and every single player.”
Marta, who scored her first goal of the season, found the back of the net early in the game, getting a touch off Alex Morgan’s header, following a corner from Courtney Petersen, to give the Pride the 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
Moments before the goal, however, Orlando could have opened the scoring when a cross from Ali Riley connected with Morgan, who headed the ball on target, but Kansas City goalkeeper Abby Smith was there to clear the ball before going past the goal line.
The Pride (3-0-1, 10 points) continued their flurry of attacks in the first half, outshooting KC 11-3 with four of those shots on target. Orlando would outshoot Kansas City 15-10 after 90 minutes of play.
Orlando could have gone up 2-0 in the 65th minute when Morgan was brought down in the area for a penalty, but Morgan’s spot kick hit the bottom-right post.
Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris picked up her first clean sheet of the season during Sunday’s win.
Former Orlando Pride player Kristen Edmonds returned for the first time since being traded to Kansas City in the offseason, playing the full 90 minutes.
For the Pride and their current four-game unbeaten streak, it’s the first time since the 2018 season that Orlando have strung four games together without a loss. And for the three consecutive victories, it’s the first time since the 2017 season, the Pride have reached that feat.
That same 2017 season saw Orlando win five consecutive games to finish the regular season on a nine-game unbeaten run to clinch its last and only playoffs appearance since joining the NWSL in 2016.
The Pride go on the road to take on the Washington Spirit on Sunday, June 6 at Audi Field. The match is slated to kick off at 2 p.m. and will stream live on Paramount+.
16′ – Marta, assisted by Alex Morgan and Courtney Petersen(ORL)
How the Pride lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Courtney Petersen, Phoebe McClernon, Ali Krieger, Ali Riley; Gunny Jónsdóttir, Marisa Viggiano (Meggie Dougherty-Howard, 90+5′), Marta (Chelsee Washington, 82′); Sydney Leroux (Crystal Thomas, 72′), Taylor Kornieck, Alex Morgan.
Substitutes: Erin McLeod, Ally Haran, Abi Kim, Konya Plummer, Toni Pressley, Erika Tymrak.
For more soccer news, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @osjsoccer