Orlando Pride (0-2-2, 2 points) returns to Orlando City Stadium for the first time in three weeks when it hosts league-leading North Carolina Courage (4-0-0, 12 points) on Sunday evening. The Pride will be looking to hand the Courage their first loss of the season when the match kicks off at 5 p.m. ET.
“It’s always exciting to come back home. It’s been a difficult start with five of our first seven games away from home. So, it is good to come home and be playing a team that’s top of the league,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “[The Courage] play things early; they play things forward quickly; they’re very competitive. The key is to effectively nullify how they play, to the extent that we are then able to play how we play. If we can do that, then play our game, we should be able to get the result.”
Orlando and North Carolina met for the first time just two weeks ago when the Pride traveled to WakeMed Soccer Park. NC’s Jessica MacDonald scored the game’s opening goal in the sixth minute on a quick rebound. But Camila responded for the Pride, curling in a shot from the top of the box in the 27th minute. That goal, Camila’s first of her NWSL career, went on to win Week 3 Goal of the Week.
However, a handball in the box allowed Sam Mewis to score what proved to be the game-winner in the 33rd minute and Lynn Williams added another to give the Courage a 3-1 advantage.
The two clubs faced each other twice in 2016 when the Courage were the Rochester-based Western New York Flash, splitting the season series with a home win apiece.
Sunday’s match marks the Pride’s second-ever match in Orlando City Stadium after opening the new venue with a 1-1 draw against Washington on April 22. With the home crowd behind them, the Pride will seek their first win of the season.
Orlando enters the match following a 1-1 draw with FC Kansas City on Sunday. Marta put the Pride ahead in the 73rd minute with her first goal in purple, but a scramble in the box following a set piece led to an Erika Tymrak goal and one point for each team.
The Courage picked up its fourth straight win that same day, with MacDonald scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win at Boston in a battle of the league’s first- and second-place teams.
After picking up her first NWSL goal on Sunday, Marta has already become one of the league’s biggest offensive threats despite only having 211 total minutes so far this season. The Brazilian forward currently leads the league in chances created from open play (10) and is third in touches in the opponent’s box (27).
North Carolina’s MacDonald ranks second in chances created and, in her last game, became the NWSL’s all-time leading goalscorer with her 32nd-minute game-winner.
Tickets to Sunday’s game are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.