Fully-Loaded Orlando Pride Host Seattle Reign FC on Saturday Night
Pride look for second straight win to close out two-game homestand
With the strength of a full squad available for the first time this NWSL season, Orlando Pride (1-2-1, 4 points) seeks to clinch its second consecutive victory when it hosts Seattle Reign FC (2-0-1, 6 points) at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, April 28. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The match will be streamed on go90. International fans can tune in on NWSLsoccer.com and on the NWSL app. Tickets to the match, and all remaining Pride home matches, are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling 855-ORL-CITY. Fans can also take advantage of the Family Pack promotional offer and receive tickets for as little at $15 when purchasing three or more. More details can be found here.
“[The international players returning] is good. It gives everybody a little boost when you get players coming back. It obviously increases the level of training, the quality of training and the competition within the squad,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “A new coach coming in at times rejuvenates a team. [In Seattle] I’ve seen a team that’s gone out there and played with a lot of energy. Amongst that energy you have a team that’s experienced and has some high quality players and a coach that organizes his teams very well.”
Saturday will be the first match that Orlando will have all its players available for selection. Australians Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond, and Brazilians Marta, Monica and Poliana have returned from FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying tournaments with their respective national teams. Marta, Monica and Poliana all played in the Pride’s March 24 home opener but missed the next three matches due to international duty. Earlier in the week, Kennedy and van Egmond arrived in market for the first time this season and Saturday’s match will mark the first time they will be available for selection in 2018.
All five players return to the Pride with momentum on their side, having successfully qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. In a Copa América Femenina championship run, defender Monica scored two goals in the final match of the tournament, including the championship-winner. Marta and Monica contributed in each match, with Marta tallying six assists and Monica netting four goals throughout the tournament.
Kennedy and van Egmond qualified with Australia after a 2nd-place finish at AFC Women’s Asian Cup. The two Australians appeared in all five matches. Kennedy recorded two goals and two assists, and van Egmond scored one goal.
This season will be Kennedy’s second as a member of the Pride. In her first year with Orlando, the midfield/defense hybrid appeared in all 24 regular-season matches and scored five goals, including one in the NWSL semifinal.
Marta returns to the Pride’s powerful attacking core of Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Rachel Hill and Chioma Ubogagu, who enters the weekend match riding a two-game goal scoring streak. Morgan or Marta have had a hand in 28 of the Pride’s last 47 goals and, recorded 10 of the team’s 31 assists in 2017. Last season, Morgan and Marta paired up for five total goals.
With reinforcements in tow, the Pride also come into the weekend with three additional points, having secured their first victory of the season against the Houston Dash last weekend. Ubogagu scored the only goal of the match in the 65th minute with an assist from Christine Nairn, marking the second straight game the duo connected for a goal. Nairn currently leads the NWSL with 20 all-time regular-season assists.
Orlando enters the match 1-1-2 all-time against Seattle and has not defeated the Reign since May 8, 2016, at Camping World Stadium. The last matchup between Orlando and Seattle on Sept. 7, 2017, resulted in a 1-1 draw, with Morgan scoring what appeared to be the game-winner in the 92nd minute, only to see Jessica Fishlock equalize two minutes later.
This will be the first time the Pride will face former teammates Steph Catley and Jasmyne Spencer. Catley and Spencer spent the past two seasons with the Pride and appeared in a combined 76 matches. The Reign acquired the two former Pride players on Jan. 29 in a trade that brought Haley Kopmeyer, Christine Nairn and Carson Pickett to Orlando.
Seattle’s last match against North Carolina Courage on April 18 ended in a 1-0 loss for the Reign. They previously defeated the Washington Spirit and Sky Blue FC.
With the return of the five international players, National Team replacements Bridget Callahan, Abby Elinsky and Nàdia Gomes have been released by the Pride. Christine Creighton is currently injured and will remain under contract while she recovers.