After two weeks off due to the Tournament of Nations, Orlando Pride (5-6-5, 20 points) finished a home-and-home series with the Chicago Red Stars (8-3-5, 29 points) at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday night. Forward Alex Morgan scored her second goal of the season in the first half, as the Pride went on to earn a point in a 1-1 draw in front of 5,667 fans.
The draw marked the first time the Pride had taken points against the Red Stars, who had previously defeated Orlando by one goal in each of the four previous meetings between the sides including a 2-1 decision on July 22 at Toyota Park.
"We probably should've had the game over by halftime. We dominated the game and played really well in the first half. We hit the woodwork twice. Then we hit a real flat spell in the second half,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “[Chicago] are always a very dangerous team. There was a time, I think, where we could've had the game won, and there was a time where we could've had the game lost. I give a great deal of credit to our players and the way that we finished the game at the end. That last five to 10 minutes we got a second wind and a second burst of energy; we managed to hit the woodwork again. Disappointed we didn't get three points, but I would have been extremely disappointed if we didn't get something out of the game."
With seven players returning on Friday from the three-game, eight-day tournament hosted by U.S. Soccer, Sermanni rolled out a 4-4-2 formation that saw Maddy Evans earn her third start of the season in the midfield and forward Chioma Ubogagu shift to left back in place of mainstay Steph Catley. Catley, as well as Brazilian defender Monica, each played all 270 minutes for their respective teams in the Tournament of Nations and did not dress for Saturday’s match.
Morgan and Ali Krieger, who were both called in for the U.S. Women’s National Team, were the only two players from the tournament to start on Saturday.
Looking to earn their first positive result over the Red Stars, the Pride jumped out of the gates and controlled the first 45 minutes with Morgan giving Orlando its first-ever lead against Chicago in the 24th minute. Ubogagu sent a pinpoint long ball up the field to Jasmyne Spencer, who made a quick turn and found Morgan on a slicing run into the box. The forward took one touch before rifling the ball in with her left foot to give the Pride the lead.
Orlando knocked on the door numerous times before the first half came to a close, including back-to-back chances from Jamia Fields, who saw a shot go inches over the crossbar followed by a rocketed strike in the 37th minute that hit the woodwork and left the goal shaking.
However, Fields’ shot wasn’t the only to be denied by the pipe. Early in the first half, Morgan’s header off an Ubogagu cross beat Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher but was denied by the crossbar.
Late in the match, with the score at 1-1, the Pride dug deep in search of the game-winner and were inches away after Marta’s corner kick went through the defense but bounced off the far post. The kick led to a scramble in the box and shouts from Orlando for a handball, but the Pride could not break through.
Marta started on the bench and was called upon earlier than expected, entering in the 24th minute after Rachel Hill suffered an injury. Camila, fresh off two goals for Brazil in the Tournament of Nations, and Alanna Kennedy, whose Australian side won the four-team competition, earned minutes as second-half substitutes.
Sofia Huerta scored Chicago’s tying goal, sending a curling shot into the corner in the 53rd minute.
The Pride will play two more home matches over the next week, hosting the Washington Spirit on Tuesday, Aug. 8 followed by Sky Blue FC on Saturday, Aug. 12. Both matches will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET with tickets available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
NWSL Match Report
Match: Orlando Pride vs. Chicago Red Stars
Date: August 5, 2017
Venue: Orlando City Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Goals 1 2 F
Orlando (5-6-5) 1 0 1
Chicago (8-3-5) 0 1 1
ORL - Alex Morgan (Jasmyne Spencer) 24’
CHI - Sofia Huerta (Jen Hoy) 53’
Orlando Pride: Aubrey Bledsoe; Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger ©, Toni Pressley, Chioma Ubogagu; Rachel Hill (Marta 24’), Dani Weatherholt (Alanna Kennedy 59’), Maddy Evans, Jamia Fields; Jasmyne Spencer (Camila 75’), Alex Morgan
Substitutes Not Used: Caroline Stanley; Nickolette Driesse; Danica Evans
Chicago Red Stars: Alyssa Naeher; Sarah Gorden (Stephanie McCaffrey 46’), Sam Johnson, Katie Naughton, Arin Gilliland; Danielle Colaprico, Taylor Comeau (Lauren Kaskie 88’), Alyssa Mautz, Vanessa DiBernardo ©; Sofia Huerta, Jen Hoy (Summer Green 90+3’)
Substitutes Not Used: Michele Dalton; Morgan Proffitt, Julie Ertz; Mary Luba
CHI - Samantha Johnson (Yellow Card) 51’
ORL - Alanna Kennedy (Yellow Card) 69’
Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva
Assistant Referee 1: Adrienne McDonald
Assistant Referee 2: Matthew Osterhouse
Fourth Official: Janessa Gunn