Pride Sight: A look back at Orlando Pride’s home loses, and look ahead to the first double match week

Credit: Orlando Pride

Hey everybody! Here’s a second dose of Orlando Pride takeaways and a look ahead coming out of the international break. This time around the team dropped two last-minute heartbreaking losses at home, first to Angel City FC in a 2-1 affair, then NJ/NY Gotham FC left the City Beautiful with three points after coming out on top 2-0. There were several talking points to come out of these matches, so we should get right to it.

First Takeaway: The match officials made their presence known

I’m not going to rehash the comments from Coach Seb Hines too much here. Yes, the Pride have come out on the wrong side of several calls from the officials. Angel City’s winning goal came two minutes after the posted eight minutes of added time. There were also questionable VAR decisions this weekend as it took match officials six minutes to decide to check for a handball against Gotham. There was even more added time in this weekend’s match as nine minutes were announced; the Pride ended up conceding twice at the end of that as Gotham scored two of the latest goals in league history.

The key, as Hines talked about in his post-match press conference, is for the Pride to go out there and finish their chances, so a match doesn’t come down to a referee decision. I don’t expect this to be the last time we will be scrutinizing a call made in an Orlando match.

Second Takeaway: Injuries and roster depth have impacted results

Sometimes you don’t need much to be reminded how this roster is still a work in progress. Losing a key player or having to manage minutes to keep a player healthy have been points that will take time to properly address.

Marta had to miss the Angel City match with a hamstring concern, leaving Jordyn Listro and Summer Yates as the other options in the midfield. The Brazilian captain was also limited in minutes against Gotham subbing off after an hour on the pitch. Julie Doyle‘s ankle injury impacted both matches as well and the front line reserves for Orlando were depleted after the third match of the season with Ally Watt (hamstring) and Haley Bugeja (head) joining Doyle on the injury report and missing the match.

When Hines went to his bench in the 90th minute, Yates went in for Mikayla Cluff, Listro for Adriana, and Megan Montefusco relieved Erika Tymrak in her season debut for the Pride. Not likely how the technical staff expected three matches into the season.

Third Takeaway: Playing the kids is going to lead to some growing pains

Hines is working to win and develop players for the long-term, and in each match so far this season Orlando has had a minimum of five players in their first or second professional season starting. The subs on the bench are in a similar situation.

Of course, the squad has its share of veteran players, but young players are prone to make mistakes that they can use to grow and develop. This is just who this team is now and as the season goes on the Pride could piece together a better run of results. The earlier talk of an Orlando Pride revenge tour is going to have to be shelved for the time being.

Help is still on the way as 18-year-old Canadian forward Amanda Allen is away at the Concacaf U-20s Championship and a potential summer transfer has yet to be announced. The ride will be bumpy for Seb’s squad now, and it may prematurely age the manager; however, the team needs to stick with it and take those early lumps.

Defender Caitlin Cosme summaries the feeling of the team plainly:

“I think the team needs to figure it out, we will figure it out. We’re still hopeful. We believe in one another, but we understand we need to be better. This is just the beginning of the season, so I think that we’re all excited to keep growing, but definitely super disappointed with tonight’s results.”

First Look Ahead: Here comes the Challenge Cup

A break from the regular season pressures may be welcomed as the NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off midweek with the North Carolina Courage rolling into town.

The prize pool for the Challenge Cup has been bumped up to a million dollars thanks to the sponsorship of UKG. The matches for this will happen during the season, mostly midweek.

The positives for performing well can potentially boast the morale of a squad that can use any bit of positivity. It is unclear how much rotation will happen to either side as the regular season picks up again this weekend. Look for the Pride to give it maximum effort on Wednesday. The league and UKG have even released a “Challenge Accepted” campaign to highlight the in-season tournament and equality on and off the pitch.

Second Look Ahead: Early battle for the wooden spoon

The Pride will hit the road on short rest to take on the only other team yet to earn any points for the regular season, the Kansas City Current. Both sides will have played Wednesday with the Current returning from a midweek trip to Houston.

Debinha deciding to sign with KC certainly wasn’t banking on having the team start the season to such a slow start. Orlando try to bounce back on the road where traditionally they have played better. The key will be who can get on the board first as the Pride on the road all-time are 19W-5L-8D when scoring first compared to 2W-31L-1D when allowing the home side to get on the board first. With expansion next season, coming in last isn’t even going to guarantee the number one pick.

Third Look Ahead: Advantage to the healthier team

Both Orlando and Kansas City have been battling early injuries which have contributed to both of their 0-3 starts. The Current are coming off back-to-back weeks of conceding four goals to their opponent, both at home and on the road.

A healthy Orlando attack gives the Pride a real chance to get the team’s first positive results, which will still be a difficult task getting past Adrianna Franch, but realistically the young team on the road will likely look to defend first and hope to strike on the counterattack. It would go a long way if Watt were able to see the pitch and utilize her speed. Someone on the Pride will need to step up and the offense will need to find a way to score multiple goals if they hope to win.

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


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