Coming off of its most dominant victory in team history, Orlando Pride heads into Saturday’s match at Chicago looking to continue its recent stretch of road fortunes. The Club posted a 4-1 win over FC Kansas City on July 15 - the largest margin of victory at Orlando City Stadium to date - but will see a tougher test when it faces the Chicago Red Stars at Toyota Park on July 22, a venue in which the Red Stars are undefeated in this season.
Saturday’s match will mark the fifth time the Pride are featured on the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime, with kickoff slated for 3:30 p.m. ET. Fans can also watch online at NWSLsoccer.com.
“[Chicago’s strikers are] difficult. The key thing [for us] is defenders need to be on their mettle from minute 1 to minute 90. We need to make sure we always have a spare player in the back. Our defenders need to be marking, even when we are in possession of the ball. We need to be aware of what is going to happen next,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “If we turnover possession, [Chicago] are going to get the ball forward very quickly to [Christen] Press or [Sofia] Huerta and they are going to go straight to attack us either in behind or up to feet. That is going to be an issue that we are going to have to deal with in this game. Going away from home, we need to make sure that defensive discipline is there.”
With a 2-0-1 record over their last three road games, the Pride will look to extend their recent string of positive road results but will have to score their first-ever goal against the Red Stars and also break free from a pattern. In their three all-time meetings, Chicago has won each game by a 1-0 scoreline.
Last weekend, the Pride tied their record for goals scored in a 4-1 win over visiting FC Kansas City. Orlando jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead behind Alanna Kennedy’s second goal of the season and Alex Morgan’s first, a penalty kick in the 38th minute. Kansas cut the lead to one goal through Maegan Kelly, but the Pride responded with goals in the 70th and 75th minutes to comfortably take all three points. Defender Toni Pressley scored her first NWSL goal in the match, a thunderous strike from outside of the box while Kristen Edmonds capped things off with her first goal of the season.
Pressley’s goal went on to be named the NWSL Goal of the Week, while Aubrey Bledsoe’s 40th-minute stop earned Save of the Week honors. Bledsoe, who has played in seven matches this season, has already won the award three times and has racked up a 4-3-1 record.
In addition to tying the Club’s record for goals in a match, the Pride set a new benchmark for shots in a game (25) and shots on target (11). Alex Morgan also totaled seven shots over her 90 minutes, matching her single-game high and tying her own Orlando record.
The Red Stars retained second place in the standings with last week’s draw against Sky Blue FC, but were forced to settle for a point after Sam Kerr scored in the 90th minute for Sky Blue FC, ending the match at 2-2. Christen Press and Sofia Huerta scored for the Red Stars.
It will be the second straight week the Pride’s opponent is coming off a disappointing result at the hands of Sky Blue, after Kansas City dropped all three points in the match preceding the July 15 contest.
In the last meeting between Orlando and Chicago, the Pride dominated the match at Orlando City Stadium but were unable to find the back of the net. Morgan made her 2017 debut in the contest, but Chicago was awarded a penalty kick in the 68th minute. Press’ goal from the spot proved to be the difference.
After Saturday’s match, the NWSL will see a bye week for the first-ever Tournament of Nations, a round-robin tournament featuring the USA, Australia, Brazil and Japan. Seven Pride players will take part in the tournament with Morgan, Ali Krieger (USA), Kennedy, Steph Catley (Australia), Marta, Monica and Camila (Brazil) all called to represent their countries.
The Pride return to Orlando City Stadium on Aug. 5 to host the Red Stars in the second leg of the home-and-home series. The match will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tickets are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.