Recap: Orlando Pride start the season with a 4-0 loss against Portland Thorns


Courtesy of Orlando Pride

The NWSL season has officially begun for the Orlando Pride as they took on defending league champions Portland Thorns on the road.

Following a disappointing end to the 2022 season, with five losses in their final five games, the new campaign didn’t start much better for the Pride, which suffered a 4-0 defeat at Providence Park on Sunday afternoon.

“Obviously we are disappointed with the result and the goals we conceded, but I think there are a lot of positives to take away,” Hines said after the match. “We came here and tried to play the right way. We tried to control the game in possession and when you do that there has to be an objective to score and I don’t think we created enough opportunities to score. That is something we will review and look back at with video and ultimately toward going into the season we want to possess to score goals. Credit to Portland, they got us in transition and were very direct and front footed. We will just have to evaluate moving forward.”

With the interim tag removed in the offseason, head coach Seb Hines brought his new-look Pride squad into one of the toughest places to play in the NWSL but a 16th-minute goal by Morgan Weaver put the Pride behind early.

Sloppy turnovers would quickly become the most apparent problem as Portland took advantage of a shaky Orlando back line in the 22nd minute with a Sophia Smith goal, a sign that the Pride still have a ways to go to improve on the issues that plagued them in 2022.

Orlando went into the half still only down 2-0, with a chance to regroup and try to get something out of the match. Portland outshot Orlando 14-3 in the first half which did not bode well for the Pride going into the second half. Still, Orlando did start to show some promising build-up play and just needed to find a way to turn some of that into bona fide chances.

Another turnover in the 49th minute was capitalized on by Hina Sugita to put the Thorns up 3-0 and all but burying the Pride. Orlando did look more involved in the attack in the second half, but turnovers quickly killed any chance of momentum building for the Pride.

A 76th-minute goal by Michelle Vasconcelos put the game officially out of reach for the Pride at 4-0. The lack of defensive structure and sloppy turnovers made it impossible for the Pride to ever really get into the game.

Still, it wasn’t all bad for Orlando. The game provided an opportunity for Marta to make her first competitive appearance exactly one year to the date of her horrific ACL injury. The Pride also handed debuts to Emily Madril, Messiah Bright, Adriana, and Summer Yates. The Pride have a young and inexperienced squad, so giving minutes in a hostile environment to newcomers is going to be vital for their long-term development with the team.

“It’s really important. I mean, they have to play that’s the only way they’re going to get better,” Hines said of those opportunities. “Giving them an opportunity so they can thrive, learn and develop. Now do it early, where the nerves are out the way. Again, this is the first game there’s plenty of more games coming up, it’s a difficult environment to come [to]. But, it’s great that they get exposure they can only get better from getting time on the field. So I think everyone should be excited of what the future holds for every player that we have here.”

Orlando will look to regroup ahead of their home opener on April 2nd against Angel City FC and former Pride players Ali Riley and Sydney Leroux, among others. It will be another tough test for the young squad looking to take some important lessons from a brutal loss in Portland.

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


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