Orlando Pride wants to remain unbeaten in the away game against Washington
This Sunday’s matchup will be a familiar one for the Orlando Pride as they face the Washington Spirit for the third time in two months.
Both teams will know what to expect from each other when they start at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Pride has not suffered a loss to Washington this season. While riding a three-game winning streak, the team is eager to hold its undefeated record against the Spirit.
“We have so many guns,” said rookie defender Phoebe McClernon. “I think we’re getting better and better at using them all.”
The historic hot start of the Pride season has brought the team to the top of the NWSL table with 10 points. In a winning streak of three games, the team has already built a one-game lead in the table over Washington, which holds second place in the league table.
Despite this early success, the Pride are trying not to fixate on their current ranking.
“We’re building momentum, we’re building these kinds of ideas that we want to take with us longer than this season,” said coach Marc Skinner. “We will keep working on it. … We know that we are at the beginning, so we will continue to work on what we want to do and achieve in order to keep our fate in our own hands and not get too carried away. “
The Pride won 1-0 against the team during the Challenge Cup and settled for a 1-1 draw in the regular season in May.
Both teams will be fresh into the game after a three-game week after a break, a time Skinner describes as “brutal” for his players. Pride went largely unscathed, but striker Sydney Leroux suffered a blow to the left thigh and was deemed questionable.
If Leroux isn’t available, the game could be a major challenge in the development of Pride as the team works to make their attack more versatile.
Forward Alex Morgan has scored one goal in all four of the Pride’s regular season games, and Leroux added the team’s only two other goals. The performance earned Morgan Player of the Month honor and placed Leroux as Team of the Month in the league.
The story goes on
Skinner said he was thrilled to see both stars shoot into the regular season, but as the international window draws closer, he’s excited to see attacking players like rookie Taylor Kornieck on the match report list.
“What we definitely have to work on over time is that people are obviously leaving, so we have to have a Plan A. [and] Plan B, ”Skinner said. “We have to have variance in the way we play.”
Although Morgan and Leroux provide the team standings, Pride has seen a multitude of rookies create opportunities for the team. Kornieck prepared two of Morgan’s goals, while McClernon and his rookie defender Courtney Petersen each supported the game winners.
Both defenders were critical to the team’s success on either side of the ball and helped Pride score their first shutout last Sunday. Keeper Ashlyn Harris didn’t have to make a single save in the match, a stark contrast to her performance with nine saves in the team’s first match against the Spirit in the Challenge Cup.
This enhanced defense will be necessary for Pride to contain key attackers like Trinity Rodman and Ashley Hatch, who relentlessly tested the backline over the last two matches.
The game will also mark the final game for the Pride internationals before the June break that will be absent from Morgan, Marta and defender Konya Plummer. Substitute goalkeeper Erin McLeod left for training with Canada before the game on Sunday.
As that challenging window approaches Pride, the team is focused on maintaining resistance to Washington in order to maintain its undefeated streak.
“We have no illusions – this league is unforgiving when it comes to the quality of the opponent,” Skinner said. “We have to make sure we are in top shape every game and if not, find ways to win ugly.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Julia Poe at [email protected]