Match report: Orlando Pride Drop 2017 Season Opener at Portland Thorns FC
Orlando Pride (0-1-0, 0 points) opened its second National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Saturday afternoon in the first-ever NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime at Portland Thorns FC. The Pride debuted with a new-look and re-energized lineup from its inaugural season, but fell 2-0 to the 2016 NWSL Shield winners.
“I thought it was a tight game, to be honest. I felt, right up until the second goal that we were in the game. If anything, the first 20 minutes of the second half I thought we were the dominant team,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “We needed to do better in final third. We had a reasonable amount of possession in the opposition’s final third but either our decision making or our quality wasn’t up to the required level to give Portland as many problems as we could have. Although I’m disappointed with the result, I wasn’t disappointed with the effort of our players.”
Orlando put the Thorns under pressure throughout the 90 minutes, drawing numerous opportunities on errant passes and intercepted balls in the final third. Just six minutes in, the Pride took possession and Chioma Ubogagu, Dani Weatherholt and Steph Catley put together a strong combination, with the Australian defender eventually sending a cross into the box that was just out of the reach of Jasmyne Spencer.
Camila, in her first NWSL match since Sept. 5, 2015, forced Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch into a deft touch just four minutes later and knocked the ball free for Spencer, but her shot from 20 yards whistled wide of the far post.
It was Spencer, again, in the 15th minute who picked off a risky Emily Sonnett pass across the backline but Franch recovered and made the stop from just yards out.
The Thorns took a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute after a handball was called in the box and Nadia Nadim converted from the spot. The host team added a second goal midway through the second half, when midfielder Allie Long slipped a pass through the defensive line to Canadian international Christine Sinclair.
Down a goal at half, the Pride came out of the locker room with renewed energy and again utilized the press to create chances, but could not find an answer for Franch.
Orlando pulled a crafty set piece out of the playbook in the 52nd minute, forcing Franch into a sprawling save but kept possession. Monica had a chance on the ensuing play, but could not get all she wanted on her header from the six-yard box.
2016 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year Ashlyn Harris made three saves, with her most impressive stops on a powerful Sinclair shot in the 16th minute and a diving header clearance midway through the second half which broke up a Portland chance.
The Pride now look ahead to their highly anticipated home opener on Saturday, April 22. It will be the first match the team plays in Orlando City Stadium and a capacity crowd is expected in the 25,500-seat venue.
Ticket to help #FillTheBowl for the match are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY. Season tickets, group tickets and the “You+2” package are also available.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Portland Thorns FC vs. Orlando Pride
Date: April 15, 2017
Venue: Providence Park
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
POR – Nadia Nadim (PK) 32′
POR – Christine Sinclair (Allie Long) 67′
Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris Ⓒ; Jamia Fields (Danica Evans 72′), Ali Krieger, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley; Dani Weatherholt (Maddy Evans 63′), Monica (Toni Pressley 78′), Kristen Edmonds; Jasmyne Spencer, Chioma Ubogagu, Camila
Substitutes Not Used: Aubrey Bledsoe; Laura Alleway, Cami Levin; Christina Burkenroad
Portland Thorns FC: Adrianna Franch; Emily Menges, Emily Sonnett, Celeste Boureille, Meghan Klingenberg; Amandine Henry, Allie Long, Lindsey Horan (Meleana Shim 69′); Nadia Nadim (Meg Morris 79′), Christine Sinclair Ⓒ, Mallory Weber (Hayley Raso 61′)
Substitutes Not Used: Britt Eckerstrom; Meghan Cox, Kendall Johnson
Stats Summary: POR / ORL
Possession: 50.6% / 49.4%
Shots: 11 / 19
Shots on Goal: 5 / 9
Saves: 9 / 3
Corner Kicks: 0 / 5
Fouls: 10 / 11
Offside: 6 / 2
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Deleana Quan
Assistant Referee 2: JJ Blodgett
Fourth Official: Jason Perlewitz