Orlando Pride Draws Utah Royals FC to Open 2018

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In the first match of its third National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, Orlando Pride (0-0-1, 1 point) drew 2018 expansion side Utah Royals FC (0-0-1, 1 point) with a 1-1 final on Saturday night. Marta became Orlando’s all-time leading scorer when she equalized from the penalty spot in front of 9,017 fans in attendance.

“It was the game we expected. We knew they would come out and be well organized and start to really press us and work really hard to get a result here. They’re a new team, a new franchise. They brought that enthusiasm to the game,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “I’m satisfied that we’ve come out and kept our run in the league going from last year and not losing the game. That was important. We’re one point better off than we’ve been at the start of the first two seasons in the league.”

Five players made their Orlando Pride debuts in the starting XI. Defenders Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky and Poliana started on the back line alongside Ali Krieger. Christine Nairn made her Pride debut next to Toni Pressley and Dani Weatherholt and Sydney Leroux started up top with Marta and Alex Morgan. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris wore the captain’s armband.

Utah got the match off to a fast start with a goal on the counter in the third minute when Diana Matheson found Gunnhilder Jonsdottir in behind the back line.  

The Pride continued pressing and earned a penalty kick in the 19th minute when Pickett served a ball into the box for Weatherholt, whose first-time rip was handled by Utah captain Becky Sauerbrunn. Marta stepped up and calmly finished into the side netting. The goal was her 14th with Orlando, which passed Morgan for the most goals in Pride history.  

Sermanni pressed for the go-ahead goal with second-half substitutions of Chioma Ubogagu for Morgan and Rachel Hill for Pressley. Hill showed great energy, at one point running onto a ball and playing it into the box before chasing her own pass and nearly drawing a second penalty.

Morgan left the match just before the halftime whistle after a hard collision with Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith just outside the box. She is currently being evaluated per the league’s concussion protocol.

Orlando returns to action on Saturday, March 31, when it visits the Washington Spirit. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at Maryland SoccerPlex and will be nationally televised on Lifetime. The Pride then visit Portland on April 15 before returning to Orlando City Stadium on Sunday, April 22, to host the Houston Dash at 5 p.m. ET.

Tickets for the remaining home games can be purchased at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.

NWSL Match Report
Match: Orlando Pride vs. Utah Royals FC
Date: March 24, 2018
Venue: Orlando City Stadium
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: 9,017
Weather: Clear

Scoring Summary:

Goals                          1          2          F

Utah (0-0-1)               1          0          0

Orlando (0-0-1)          1          0          0

UTA - Gunnhilder Jonsdottir (Diana Matheson) 3’
ORL - Marta (PK) 21’

Lineups:

Orlando Pride: Ashlyn Harris ©; Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky, Ali Krieger, Poliana (Monica 66’); Toni Pressley (Rachel Hill 73’), Christine Nairn, Dani Weatherholt; Marta, Alex Morgan (Chioma Ubogagu 46’), Sydney Leroux

Substitutes Not Used: Haley Kopmeyer; Lotta Ӧkvist, Kristen Edmonds; Danica Evans

Utah Royals FC: Abby Smith; Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn ©, Rachel Corsie, Becca Moros; Katie Bowen, Gunnhilder Jonsdottir (Katie Stengel 62’), Diana Matheson (Taylor Lytle 64’), Desiree Scott; Elise Thorsnes, Brittany Ratcliffe (Sydney Miramontez 81’)

Substitutes Not Used: Nicole Barnhart; Brooke Elby; Lo’eau LaBonta, Erika Tymrak

Stats Summary: ORL / UTA
Possession: 53.7 % / 46.3 %
Shots: 7 / 9
Shots on Goal: 3 / 2
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 4 / 1
Fouls: 14 / 8
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
UTA
- Becky Sauerbrunn (Yellow Card) 21’
UTA - Brittany Ratcliffe (Yellow Card) 58’
ORL - Ali Krieger (Yellow Card) 90+3’

Officials:
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee 1: Trent Vanhaitsma
Assistant Referee 2: Gjovalin Bori
Fourth Official: Miguel Martes

Utah Royals FC Kick Off Inaugural NWSL Season in Orlando

Photo: Orlando Pride

Photo: Orlando Pride

Utah Royals FC kicks off its official on-field existence Saturday evening by playing its first-ever National Women’s Soccer League match in club history on March 24 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Orlando Pride in the Orlando City Stadium.

Utah Royals FC boasts no fewer than 11 recently active national team players on the club’s 24-player inaugural roster, representing seven countries. With three each from the United States (Captain Becky Sauerbrunn, DF Kelley O’Hara and FW Amy Rodriguez) and Canada (MF Desiree Scott, M/F Diana Matheson and DF Maegan Kelly), the group also includes a pair of Scandinavians (MF Gunny Jonsdottir / Iceland; and FW Elise Thorsnes / Norway), as well as an Oceania pair (MF Katie Bowen / New Zealand; and MF Katrina Gorry / Australia), following the official signing earlier this week of Scotland Captain and DF Rachel Corsie.

URFC kicks off Saturday’s match after a rigorous month of preseason training and travel, including victorious scrimmages against BYU (1-0) and UCLA (4-1) since kicking off training in earnest on Feb. 19. Utah Royals FC Head Coach Laura Harvey – a two-time NWSL coach of the Year at Seattle (2014/15) and the winningest boss in league history with a 51-33-26 record – now enters her sixth year in the NWSL and first with Utah.

Still need tickets to the match? Use promo code QUEENSCAST!

2018 Orlando Pride to Debut Saturday Night at Orlando City Stadium

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Orlando Pride will begin its third National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season against expansion side Utah Royals FC on Saturday, March 24. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Orlando City Stadium.

Tickets for Saturday’s home opener are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY. The match will be nationally streamed on go90 and on the NWSL app. International fans can tune in on NWSLsoccer.com.

“When you look at the team we have, we’ve got a considerable number of match-winners on our team. Even last year, we had a significant number of players that scored goals for us. We’ve added to that firepower even more so this year,” Pride head coach Tom Sermanni said. “The other advantage that we have, or slight advantage, is that although Utah is a new team, the bulk of the team are Kansas City players so at least we’re familiar with the players and familiar with the attributes of those players.”

The Pride will look to build off an impressive second year in the NWSL that saw them go undefeated in the final two months, compiling a 6-0-3 record, to clinch the Club’s first playoff berth. The Pride led the league with 45 goals and return Alex Morgan and Marta, two of the league’s top five goalscorers. Joining them will be U.S. WNT forward Sydney Leroux, along with all-time NWSL assists leader Christine Nairn.

Looking to build off last year’s success, Orlando also added several key players in the defense. Olympic bronze medalist Shelina Zadorsky, Brazilian Poliana and Carson Pickett were added to bolster the back line that is anchored by FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Ali Krieger and U.S. WNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

New midfielder Emily van Egmond and returner Alanna Kennedy will join Orlando following the conclusion of Australia’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying, which runs April 6-20 in Jordan.

The Royals roster includes goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, who led the league with 97 saves in 2017, USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn, FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Kelley O’Hara and Canadian forward Diana Matheson.

Saturday’s match will mark the first time Orlando has opened the season at home since joining the league, previously playing its first two season openers at Portland Thorns FC, and will also be the inaugural NWSL match for the Royals.

Orlando will face Utah again on May 9 and July 14 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

QueensCast Top Ten: Tiny But Mighty

This week we take a look around the league at some players who sometimes get overlooked.  Literally! These players hold the old adage "great things come in small packages" true.  Don't underestimate these ladies by their size.  Their speed and skill more than make up for what they lack in height. Now, let's score!

Jasmyne Spencer - Forward - Orlando Pride - 5'1"

Taylor Lytle - Midfielder - Sky Blue FC - 5'2"

Meg Morris - Forward - Portland Thorns FC - 5'2"

Diana Matheson - Midfielder - Seattle Reign FC - 5'2"

Adriana Leon - Forward - Boston Breakers - 5'2"

Lo'eau Labonta - Midfielder - FC Kansas City - 5'2"

Meghan Klingenberg - Defender - Portland Thorns FC - 5'2"

Nahomi Kawasumi - Forward - Seattle Reign - 5'2"

Brooke Elby - Defender - Boston Breakers - 5'2"

Daphne Corboz - Midfielder - Sky Blue FC - 5'2