Orlando Pride kicks off new campaign on the road against defending champions Portland Thorns | OSJ Match Preview

Courtesy of Orlando Pride

It’s time to Pride or die.

The Orlando Pride are back, gearing up for a Sunday afternoon season-opener against the Portland Thorns at Providence Park (5 p.m. ET, Paramount+/FOX 35 Plus). It’ll be Seb Hines‘ first game on the sideline after the club named him Head Coach over the winter.

Fresh off an undefeated run in the preseason, with five wins and three against fellow NWSL clubs, the Pride are looking to continue the run and rebound after a disappointing end to the 2022 season, when the team finished winless with five losses in their final six games — including a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Thorns at Exploria Stadium in September.

The opener also marks the return of Marta, who missed almost the entire 2022 season due to an ACL injury suffered precisely one year ago today in a Challenge Cup match.

Roster notes

All players are healthy and available for Hines. Only absence is Carrie Lawrence, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

What they’re saying

“The mood is great right now. We go back seven weeks, started preseason, looking at what we need to do to improve on what we built last year,” Hines said ahead of the match on Friday. “And the response from the players has been first class, you know, the attention to detail. Their attitude, just their overall game during preseason has been brilliant, and what better way to test themselves against the defending champions, away from home, in front of the hostile crowd. So, you know, they’re all super excited, they’re all raring to go. And, yeah, we just can’t wait for that whistle to blow.”

More from Hines:

“You have to take every game as it comes. The league is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. So we bring our attention to Portland on Sunday and go back to what we said earlier, it started in preseason, where we had to get our principles, our culture, our identity in place before we started moving into a style of play. It’s a new group, it’s a lot of young players, it’s getting them to know each other. That’s why we did a preseason trip for a week. It wasn’t for them to get to know me, it was for them to get to know each other and what their hobbies are and what they’re like as people and I think that is really important as you’re in a team environment. Because you’re going to have to rely on each other through good times and hard times throughout the season. So, you know, there’s a real togetherness here. Like I said, there’s a young team who are excited to prove themselves against some of the best players and some of the best teams in the world. So, again, we’re just we’re excited to get going on Sunday.”

READ MORE: The Orlando Soccer Journal‘s 2023 Orlando Pride season preview

For more Orlando soccer news, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer


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