ORLANDO – The Orlando Pride Opened their 2021 season with a well contested 1-1 draw against the Washington Spirit at Exploria Stadium.
The highlight of the game was Alex Morgan scoring her first goal for the Pride since the 2018 Orlando Pride Season, 996 days. A pass from Phoebe McClernonMorgan managed to get into a nice situatiowhen Spirit defenders and loft the ball over the diving goal keeper for a goal. The Equalizer put a good spin on the day.
“Tonight was another step in the right direction.” said Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner. ” Of course you want to see a win on the board, but we had big parts in the game. It’s always going to be tight against Washington, they’re very good and have lots and lots of talent going through as well. To come back in the way that we did was very, very pleasing. It’s the consistency, it’s the message of once you go down, you’re not beaten and that team has come around and done that. Super pleased with their efforts, with their attitudes and that can only give us a great platform to go forward as we look for those wins throughout the season.”
The emphasis of this season has been to take all of the powerful individual talent that Orlando has and get them to work together as a unit. This game was evidence that things are moving towards that direction. Her movement and set ups with Sydney Leroux are getting closer and closer to spectacular goals.
Washington led the half in shots (5-4), but both teams had just one shot on target. The Pride held more possession for most of the half, but Washington used a solid final few minutes to end the half with 53% possession.
After a scoreless first half, Washington initiated the scoring in the 76th minute with a cross from Tori Huster finding the head of Ashley Hatch in the area for the finish. Hatch outjumped Krieger and headed the ball into the back of the net.
Marc Skinner’s switch on the back line put veteran Ali Kreiger against the dangerous Trinity Rodman, keeping her at bay on the offensive side.
The Morgan goal finally filled a void that had been missing for a long time. Morgan saw the obvious need for a score.
“We were down 1-0 and I felt like we were pushing for a goal,” Morgan said. “We needed to push for a goal and so Phoebe [McClernon] was coming up and they have a really high back line and we kind of worked on that in training. It was really route one, direct ball but it works with a high back line.”
Orlando’s next game is vs the North Carolina Courage at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday May, 22nd