Numbers may not always be pretty, but they never lie. And the numbers that define the Orlando Pride right now paint a very worrisome, yet accurate, picture of the Pride being unable to discover their identity outside of their superstar international players.
The Pride have scored just one goal so far in the early 2018 NWSL season. The lone Pride goal so far this season came off of an iffy handball call that gave Marta the opportunity to burry a penalty kick. Alyssa Mautz of Chicago Red Stars and Christine Sinclair of Portland Thorns FC have already doubled the Orlando Pride’s goal total, individually.
Through two games the Pride have taken seven shots on goal. Newly acquired forward, Sydney Leroux has produced 4 of the 7 shots on goal but has yet to find the back of the net. Scoring especially when the internationals are away is something that Leroux is going to have start doing right away if she wants to at least match her output from last season.
The amount of corner kicks that the Orlando Pride have earned this season. 11 puts them in second in the league behind the North Carolina Courage, who have earned a cool 17 and is nearly double the 6 that the Houston Dash have earned which has them in third. This number glares painfully more than the others because set pieces can result in crucial scoring opportunities when executed properly. With that being said, please oh please ban the short corner from the playbook! Set pieces for the Pride will become more dangerous once the height Alanna Kennedy arrives, but until then players need to step up to ensure that these corner kicks begin gaining some value.
The fact that the Pride have no assists on the year goes hand in hand with the earlier stat of only having one goal, via a penalty kick. In fact, if I’m being honest I may have said "What the French toast?!?" a couple of times already this season, when referencing the lack of communication and connection that I’ve seen the Pride display on the field. Poor passes and decisions have proved costly for the Pride early on this season, resulting in them quickly finding themselves at the bottom half the table which is a place they haven’t truly found themselves in since their inaugural season.
The number of the Orlando Pride’s game changer, Alex Morgan. Morgan was truly missed last game, a pain that I’m sure stung slightly more as fans watched her bag a brace for the USWNT just days after the Pride suffered their first loss of the season. While Alex Morgan is no doubt a crucial piece of the Pride’s success, the number 13 also represents the total amount of shots that the Pride have taken this season. If you connect the dots from my earlier stat about 7 being the total number of shots that the Pride have put on frame it equates to a not so impressive 54% of shots being on goal because Orlando has been on the wrong end of that 54% mark for two games in a row now. To further put it in perspective, Lynn Williams of the North Carolina Courage and Megan Rapinoe of the Seattle Reign FC have taken 11 shots and 10 shots each, respectively.
The jersey number of the woman, who is my way too early MVP of the Orlando Pride – Shelina Zadorsky. Zadorsky was a crucial part in the Pride’s draw in the home opener and followed it up with another solid performance against her former team. She won 7 out of 8 challenges, which were all aerial while also recovering eleven balls in the match. Most importantly, Zadorsky who was coming off of back to back difficult seasons at Washington Spirit has been the true young centerback that the Pride have needed since day one.
Now, I know I sound like Negative Nancy and that its only been two games but the Pride need to prove that they are more than Alex Morgan, Marta, Shelina Zadorsky, Monica, Poliana, Alanna Kennedy, Emily VanEgmond and Ashlyn Harris because the reality is that both this season and next year they are going to be pulled away more than ever to represent their respective countries and will only be able to do so much when they are here. It’s up to the likes Sydney Leroux, Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt, Toni Pressley, Carson Pickett, Christine Nairn and company to keep the Pride afloat and in the playoff race while the internationals take care of business but the question is are they up to task?