Orlando Pride begins a three-game homestand on Saturday night when it welcomes the Chicago Red Stars to Orlando City Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. ET kick. The match will mark the Pride’s second straight game against the Red Stars after playing the NWSL's first-place team just two weeks ago at Toyota Park.
The Pride will be looking to bounce back from the July 22 match which saw Alanna Kennedy score Orlando’s first ever goal against Chicago in the 93rd minute of the 2-1 loss.
Saturday's match will be live streamed at go90.com or at nwslsoccer.com. Former NWSL player Jordan Angeli and Morgan Church will be on the call. Tickets to the match are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
“We know what to expect from Chicago. They’re very direct, very robust, a very physical team and very well disciplined in defense so they are tough to breakdown,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “They play the ball forward early, they make early forward runs and they hit you quickly in transition. Those are the areas we need to make sure we are aware of and, at the same time, make the most of the chances we’ve created.”
With seven players returning Friday from the Tournament of Nations, including U.S. Women's National Team members Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger, Australians Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy, and Brazilian players Marta, Monica and Camila, the Pride will be missing a large part of the regular starting XI. Sermanni is expected to roll out a new lineup, utilizing the depth and versatility he has built within the squad.
Aubrey Bledsoe is expected to retain her role in goal, while Ashlyn Harris grows closer to returning from a quadriceps injury suffered in late May.
“While we’re eager to get Ashlyn back, Aubrey has not only been phenomenal in goal but has made it so Ashlyn can take her time in the rehab process and make sure she get back to absolute 100 percent,” Sermanni added. “We also look at this from a situational perspective. If this were a championship match, Ashlyn could step in but we have three games this week and a high chance of a new back four that she’s never worked with.”
The Red Stars also had a number of players make the cross country trek for the tournament, with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, defender Casey Short, midfielder Julie Ertz and forward Christen Press all competing with the U.S. WNT. Midfielder Sofia Huerta also trained with the American side but is not eligible to play for country at this point.
The visitors will also be without Head Coach Rory Dames who earned a red card suspension in the previous meeting between the two teams.
The Red Stars are one of just three teams that the Pride have yet to beat in their short history, but all contests between the two sides has been competitive and decided by just a single goal. Press has scored four of Chicago's five goals against Orlando with Taylor Comeau scoring the fifth.
Sitting just five points out of playoff position, the Pride have the opportunity to take nine points over the next week. Following Saturday’s match, the Pride also play on Aug. 8 vs. Washington Spirit and Aug. 12 vs. Sky Blue FC. All matches will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. at Orlando City Stadium.