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The day everyone has been waiting for several months has finally arrived as tonight the Orlando Pride will take to their home field, Orlando Citrus Bowl, for the first time as they face the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.
Ever since the formation of the women’s club was announced on 20th October 2015, everyone who loves the game of soccer in Central Florida has been waiting for the opportunity to see the ladies in action. The season actually began last Sunday when the team traveled to Portland and they were very unlucky to come away with out a point. Defender Steph Catley opened the match with a goal in the 12th minute – one that will go down in the history books as the first-ever goal in Orlando Pride history. Portland, however, answered with goals from Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Lindsey Horan to take the first three points of the season.
Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni (pictured above) said “We felt we did enough to get something from the game last week. The players were disappointed with the result but they also took away the knowledge that they can compete at this level.”
Preparations for the opening home game have been intense as the team stepped up training with two sessions at the Orlando Citrus Bowl in preparation for the 7.30pm kick off. On Wednesday night the team enjoyed an open evening in front of their excited fans and afterwards they spent an hour or so signing autographs in a meet and greet session.
Tonight’s opponents are the Houston Dash and that means a certain Carli Lloyd (pictured above) will be lining up for the opposition and the Pride will need to be wary of allowing her too many chances as she can be lethal in front of goal. She is best known for scoring an amazing hat-trick for the USA in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final against China.
“Houston is a very good team. They have a very experienced coach in Randy Waldrum who has put together a good squad. You’ve got World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd, who is a real threat, and some very potent attacking players who play a good brand of soccer,” Sermanni said of tonight’s opponents.
Orlando has it’s own stars though and players like Alex Morgan (pictured above) and Ashlyn Harris will be keen to put one over their international teammate. In total some 18 international players will possibly be taking the field.
Players to watch out for :
Carli Lloyd (USA), Lydia Williams (Australia), Ellie Brush (Australia), Andressa (Brazil), Poliana (Brazil), Janine Beckie (Canada), Allysha Chapman (Canada), Rachel Daly (England), Denise O’Sullivan (Ireland), Bianca Henniger (Mexico)
Alex Morgan (USA), Ashlyn Harris (USA), Kaylyn Kyle (Canada), Josée Bélanger (Canada), Laura Alleway (Australia), Steph Catley (Australia), Monica Hickmann Alves (Brazil), Lianne Sanderson (England)
The Dash, led by Lloyd, will be playing in their first away match after opening the season with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Red Stars in Week 1. Lloyd scored the second goal of the match, which would prove to be the game-winner, while rookie Rachel Daly added a goal and an assist. For her performance, Daly was named NWSL Week 1 Player of the Week. Forward Kealia Ohai scored the Dash’s third goal.
Tonight the two teams are expected to battle in front of a record-setting crowd that will break the current National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) attendance record of 21,144 fans. As of Friday morning, more than 20,000 tickets were sold – just 1,145 ticket away from setting the record.
“When you see the supporters of this Club, when you see the people that work at the Club and when you see the support around town for the Club, it’s just phenomenal,” said Sermanni. “I won’t be surprised if we break the record, I’ll be surprised if we don’t break the record.”
Tickets for the game are still available and if you’ve never been to a women’s soccer match before, now is a great time to go. You’ll be very surprised by the high standard of play as well as the family atmosphere.
More photos from Orlando Pride Open Training session at www.FloridaleisurePhotography.com