The NWSL season is one-third complete and as the league enters the first FIFA-international break, it is a good time to review what three players are most important to the Orlando Pride’s success moving forward.
Heading into the 2017 season, some were uncertain if Toni Pressley would be able to make the 20 player roster. With the Pride adding Alanna Kennedy and Ali Krieger to a backline that already featured three other international players, it appeared at least one center back was going to get cut.
Boy has Toni Pressley made a statement that she is here to stay.
Through the first three matches of the 2017 NWSL season, the Pride struggled mightily on the defensive side of the ball. Tom Sermanni, who said that Pressley had impressed him throughout trainings and pre-season matches, gave the Orlando area-native a shot and the Pride have not looked back. Since the insertion of Pressley into the lineup, the Pride are 2-1-2. If Pressley can keep up her stellar play, head coach Tom Sermanni will have a lot of freedom to move players around to other positions in which the Pride lack depth. Also, Pressley will be able to anchor the back line in the absence of internationals.
Ashlyn Harris’ injury was expected to be a major blow to the Orlando Pride lineup but Bledsoe has performed well through her first two matches. Clearly, Bledsoe is not as renowned or experienced as Harris but she has held her own. With Harris expected to be out until the end of July, solid play from the 24 year-old is a must. To date, she looks up to the task.
Will Alex Morgan be able to solve the height problem that is plaguing the front line of the Pride? Though the squad has really come together with the arrival of Marta, the Pride are lacking a player who can consistently get on the end of a crosses during the run of play. Morgan has always been a threat in the air. If she can bring that aspect back with her from France the Pride are going to be more and more dangerous.