Before the start of the season, we laid out 5 key markers to measure the Orlando Pride’s chances of making the playoffs. The idea is that if, by season's end, the Pride meet or exceed at least three of these five numbers then they will be on their way to the postseason. Though we are only entering the fourth week of a 24-game season, let’s check in on how the Pride are doing.
Goal scorers: To be a healthy team, it takes a village. One great indicator of the depth of a squad is how many players contribute on the scoresheet. Through statistical analysis, it appears seven different goal scorers is the minimum necessary to make it to the NWSL postseason. This season, the Orlando Pride have only scored two goals in three games, BUT those two goals have come from unusual suspects. Seeing Danica Evans and Camila -both newcomers- open the scoring for the Pride is a great sign. With Marta and Alex Morgan almost certain to contribute, and Kristen Edmonds back taking her lethal free kicks, the Pride are off to a great start.
Ties: It may seem counterintuitive but ties matter. Though every team wants to get the W, being able to wrangle a point from an opponent is vital in a league as competitive as the NWSL. No team has ever made the NWSL postseason without winning at least three draws. The Pride were able to show resilience in the second match of the season and earn a point late in the match.
Points at home: Entering this season, the Orlando Pride knew that earning the lion’s share of their points at home would be vital to their success. (Lucky for them, home field advantage is something guaranteed for the Championship match as it will be held in Orlando this October). The goal for home points is 24. That is an average of two per home match. The Pride have only been home for one match, but they fell short in only earning one point against a team they had no excuse to get anything less than 3 points from.
Points: 36 points in a 24 game season has been the bare minimum. Averaged out, that is 1.5 points per game. Through three games, the Orlando Pride are averaging 0.33 points per match.
Shutouts: Five shutouts. Sounds simple enough. But for the Pride, they are not even close. Averaging 2 goals per game, they have the lowest goal differential by… a lot. As simple as it sounds, the Pride must stop letting other teams score.
All and all, the Orlando Pride season has not gone according to plan. Two hand balls in the box, goal line clearances, and missed calls have plagued the ladies in purple. Do not lose hope though, Pride fans, as the team is simply too big to fail. Look for them to breakthrough this Sunday against a short-handed FC Kansas City squad.