The Orlando Pride made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, but fell 4-1 in the semifinals to eventual champions Portland Thorns FC. Now, they are headed into their third year in the NWSL and looking to take things even further.
This year, they’ll have the forward pairing of Marta and Alex Morgan together from the beginning of the season — plus an offense bolstered by the likes of Sydney Leroux, Emily van Egmond and Christine Nairn.
In the 2018 NWSL GM Survey, Marta was picked by most to win the Most Valuable Player award this year, her second with the Pride.
The Pride open their season at home on Saturday, March 24, vs. Utah Royals FC.
Head coach: Tom Sermanni
Home stadium: Orlando City Stadium
Haley Kopmeyer, goalkeeper
Sydney Leroux, forward
Christine Nairn, midfielder
Carson Pickett, defender
Emily van Egmond, midfielder
Shelina Zadorsky, defender
Aubrey Bledsoe, goalkeeper
Steph Catley, defender
Jasmyne Spencer, forward
Sydney Leroux joined the Pride in one of the highest-profile trades of a busy NWSL offseason. Last season for FC Kansas City she scored six goals and two assists, after missing all of 2016 due to the birth of her son.
Aubrey Bledsoe minded the net while Ashlyn Harris was out with an injury last season, and the Pride then traded her to Washington this offseason for Shelina Zadorsky. The Canadian center back will give the Pride a bit more depth on defense this season. Carson Pickett will likely take over for Steph Catley on the backline after the Pride and Reign swapped left backs this offseason.
By the Numbers
2017: 11-6-7, 3rd place (Home: 6-2-4, Away: 5-4-3)
45 goals for (1st in the NWSL), 31 goals against (T-4th)
Marta finished second in the NWSL MVP voting, in just her first season in the league. Her value to the Pride was clear. She scored 13 goals and six assists, second in the league in both categories. The Pride went 10-0-3 in games in which she recorded a goal or assist. Her 63 chances created were 15 more than anyone else in the league.
Alex Morgan, who rejoined the Pride on July 1, scored nine goals and four assists in 13 games for Orlando. Seven of those goals came in five straight August matches, tying an NWSL record. She also became the first NWSL player to score game-winning goals in three consecutive matches. The Pride were 7-0-2 in games in which she had a goal or an assist.
Defensively, Ali Krieger was one of six players in the NWSL to play every minute last season, and finished as a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year. Moved into a center back position early in the season, she led the team in clearances (103) and blocks (12).
Though the Pride finished in the middle of the pack for goals against in 2017, one particular pain point came in penalties conceded. The Pride allowed seven penalty kick goals, the most in the NWSL. Three of them were the game-winning goals for their opponents, and a fourth turned a win in Washington to a tie after Mallory Pugh converted in the 90th minute.
The Pride peaked at the perfect time in 2017, ending the season on a red hot run that pushed them to a No. 3 playoff seed. But their turnaround started a little earlier. After only earning one win through the first seven games, things began turning around for Orlando in June, when they went 3-1. But they went 1-2-2 over the next five — including 0-2-1 against the Chicago Red Stars. Once they were clear of Chicago, it was back to smooth sailing and the 6-0-2 run that put them into third place.
Head Coach Tom Sermanni
Games to Watch
Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride
Sunday, April 15 | go90 | 6 p.m. ET
Including the playoffs, the Pride are 0-4-1 vs. the Thorns. They’ll get a chance to spoil Portland’s home opener in the rematch of last year’s semifinal meeting.
Orlando Pride vs. Seattle Reign FC
Saturday, April 28 | go90 | 7:30 p.m. ET
The Pride and Reign traded second half stoppage time goals in a dramatic September draw last season. Both of their meetings last year finished 1-1.
Chicago Red Stars vs. Orlando Pride
Wednesday, May 2 | go90 | 7:30 p.m. ET
The Pride have also never earned a win against the Red Stars, who were also the only team to beat the Pride more than once last season. New Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr finished first in MVP voting and the Golden Boot race, to Marta’s second.
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) February 2, 2018
Roster (as of 3/19)
Rostered Players (21 of 20 spots filled)
Federation Players (FED): 3
International Roster Spots Filled (INTL): 5