Orlando Pride Returns to NWSL Action After Olympic Break

Photo by: Orlando Sentinel

Orlando Pride returns to Camping World Stadium for the first time in 41 days, having last played a home match on July 16. With just a quarter of their inaugural season remaining, the Pride begin a final push for the playoffs, hosting top-seeded Washington Spirit at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.

Friday’s game will be streamed at orlando-pride.com/live or can be followed on Twitter through the Pride’s official account, @ORLPride.

“[The Spirit] have a few attacking weapons and have won five out of their last six games, so they're obviously coming into this game very high in confidence. It’s like everything in this league, there hasn’t been any easy games for us this year and this is going to be another tough game,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said.  “When you look at our performances, with the exception of Seattle away, our performances against teams at the top of the league have been very good - particularly here at home. The key thing for us is to get our structure right, to get our focus right, to get our tactics right and for the players to turn up Friday and perform.”

Orlando will be playing its first match since the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) took a 26-day break for the Rio Olympics. The Pride roster will be bolstered by the return of Olympic players Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris and Monica, while Australians Steph Catley and Laura Alleway have been ruled out with injury.

Sitting seven points out of playoff position, the Pride will be looking to take points out of each of the final five matches of the season in hopes to reach the NWSL playoffs in their inaugural campaign.

Orlando comes into Friday’s contest after a 1-0 loss at the Boston Breakers on July 31. Forward Natasha Dowie scored the match’s lone goal, capitalizing on a defensive miscue to beat goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage.

Washington enters the match leading the table by three points and were in action last week, playing a rescheduled match with the Houston Dash on Aug. 18. Forward Christine Nairn scored two goals for the Spirit, the first on a penalty kick and another with a long-distance strike to lift the side to a 2-1 win at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Orlando and Washington matched up once earlier in the year, with the Pride falling 2-0 at Maryland SoccerPlex on June 18. It was the first match for both clubs after the tragic events in Orlando just six days prior. Both teams wore black armbands during the match and, with a standing applause from the sellout crowd, the match was paused during the 49th minute to honor the 49 victims of the tragedy.

The Pride have played well from the confines of Camping World Stadium, compiling a 5-2-0 record with three shutouts and outscoring opponents 10-5 while in Central Florida.

Tickets for Friday’s match, and all remaining Pride matches, can be purchased at orlando-pride.com or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.