Orlando Pride move into 3rd place with disappointing home draw against Sky Blue

Orlando Pride’s “Jekyll and Hyde” season continued at Orlando City Stadium tonight as they threw away three points that would have consolidated their position near the top of the table. On the day that the North Carolina Courage sealed the NWSL Shield, the Pride were unable to defeat the team bottom of the league and without a win all season.

“I think today’s game is probably a snapshot of our season to be perfectly honest” said Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. “We had more than enough possession to win the game, we had certainly more than enough chances to win the game, but we hit the woodwork, maybe three or four times. We dominated large parts of the game, but we just don’t put the game away. Then we seem to be again defensively frail to give up easy opportunities that shouldn’t really happen and that’s been the snapshot of our season up to now. We could’ve got ourselves out of jail for one, for a better one, obviously with having a penalty in the last minute, but again that’s been our season so far. The last game against Sky Blue we scrapped out in the last four or five minutes, our last game here against Washington we did the same with a bit of individual brewing by Marta. I wish I had an answer, we need to be able to put games to bed when we dominate them so much and we also need to stop giving up chances that are so easy for our opponents. I’m at a loss to be able know how to remedy both those to be honest.”

After a largely uneventful first half, except for Marta hitting the woodwork in the 42nd minute from a free kick, the game came alive in the second half. The Pride upped the tempo with a more direct approach and it quickly paid dividends six minutes into the half as midfielder Dani Weatherholt worked her way into the left hand side of the penalty area and fired a goalward shot that Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan could only deflect onto the right hand upright. The ball bounced kindly and Marta was on hand to turn home her fourth goal of the season and to give the Pride the lead.

Typically, Orlando didn’t hold the lead for long as two minutes later, Sky Blue forward Shea Groom worked her way into the penalty area and fed Imani Dorsey who scored from close range. In the 59th minute, Sky Blue took the lead for the first time in a game this season, as U.S. women’s national team star Carli Lloyd, on as a substitute, sent in a cross to forward Savannah McCaskill.  The 2018 NWSL Dispersal draft pick then headed the ball back across the box to Shea Groom who bravely headed home under challenge from Pride defender Alanna Kennedy and past goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

The Pride stepped up their game as Alex Morgan and Camilla immediately came on for Rachel Hill and Christine Nairn but it was Dani Weatherholt who rescued the Pride from embarrassment as she headed home after good work by the Brazilian. Midfielder Camila was pushed off the ball, but Weatherholt saw the opportunity and came charging forward to collect the ball. She calmy advanced on Sky Blue keeper Kailen Sheriden and a fortunate ricochet fell Weatherholt’s way and she was able to head home to restore parity.

As always with an Orlando game, there was some last minute drama to come. From a right hand corner, Carli Lloyd inexplicably swatted the ball away from her own six yard box and was red carded for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Marta stepped up with the penalty and saw her effort saved by Sheriden diving to her left hand side.

“It’s extremely frustrating, it’s extremely frustrating for everybody. We knew Sky Blue and what they would come into this with, they’ve come here with a point to prove. Their players have dug in all season and made life really difficult for teams, they should’ve won games earlier in the season and we knew how difficult it was going to be.” said Sermanni after the game. “It’s been really frustrating, it’s been our season to be frank. Tonight is a snapshot of our season. A bit like Forrest Gump, a box of chocolates, you never quite know what you’re going to get once you open it up. I think tonight is just another snapshot of virtually every game we’ve played this season. Honestly, I think without fail, we were soundly beaten by North Carolina and we beat Chicago soundly 5-2, but apart from those two games every game we’ve had this season has been similar to tonight’s game. As I say, I would love to be able to say it’s this, or it’s this, or it’s this, it’s either individual lapses where we suddenly get caught out, it’s ball watching when we’ve got the ball and then suddenly we get caught on the counter attacks, or we’re dominating games and we’re just not ruthless enough to put chances away. We’re still in the hunt. We win next week against Portland and we’re in a really good position, but I don’t think we should be in this position, we should be four, five, six points better off than we are.”

Full Time: Orlando Pride 2 Sky Blue 2


Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris ©; Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Toni Pressley (Danica Evans 85’); Kristen Edmonds, Emily van Egmond, Dani Weatherholt, Christine Nairn (Camila 61’), Chioma Ubogagu; Rachel Hill (Alex Morgan 61’), Marta

Substitutes Not Used: Haley Kopmeyer; Monica, Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky

Sky Blue FC: Kailen Sheridan; Christina Gibbons, Mandy Freeman, Erica Skroski, Amanda Frisbie; Madison Tiernan (Carli Lloyd 56’), Raquel Rodriguez (Katlyn Johnson 83’), Sarah Killion ©, Imani Dorsey; Savannah McCaskill, Shea Groom (McKenzie Meehan 62’)

Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Casey; Rebekah Stott, Amandine Pierre-Louis; Jen Hoy

Attendance: 4,577

More photos at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com





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