Pride vs. Sky Blue: The Good, The Bad, and The Historic

Lisa de Vanna made her first start for the Pride last night, but even her addition to the lineup wasn't able to help the Pride overcome visiting Sky Blue FC, who took all three points away from Camping World Stadium with a 2 - 1 victory. Josee Belanger also strained a hamstring and had to leave the match. In post-game comments, coach Tom Sermanni said it was unlikely the Canadian National Team player would be available for the final match of the season in two weeks at Camping World Stadium.

The Good

  • Kristen Edmonds - Edmonds scored her 6th goal of the season, leading all Pride players. The goal was a screaming free kick from 30 yards out that curled over and around the ball to find the top corner of the net and beat Sky Blue goaltender Caroline Casey.
  • Lisa De Vanna - De Vanna proved to be very active on the pitch, not only in the attack, but scrambling all over the field to intercept and steal the ball from Sky Blue players as well. It's clear that the team need more time with her to develop on-pitch chemistry and get comfortable with tactics, but it appears she will help the Pride in seasons to come.

The Bad

  • Defending - Sky Blue's two goals coincided with defensive collapses that could have been learned by studying early season footage of the MLS side. In both cases attacking opponents got behind the Pride defense on long passes forward and were able to make unimpeded advances on the goal with only Ashlyn Harris to try to stop the shots. Harris did have 3 saves on the night, including another that could contend for Save of the Week, but the defense lapsed far too many times for me to be satisfied with it at this point in the season.
  • Passing - The pass attempts that were 20-plus yards were poor for the most part. The players can see plays and opportunities develop, but many times when they were trying to send the ball up to Alex Morgan, Jasmyne Spencer, or Lisa De Vanna, they were passing off target or too far ahead for their teammate to reach. You can tell that all the lineup shuffles forced by injuries, International commitments, and expansion team chemistry experiments have really hurt the team's ability to develop the kind of synchronized attack that makes for a consistently potent offense.
  • Josee Belanger injured - The Canadian National team defender went down without contact in front of Ashlyn Harris's goal after the team turned away a Sky Blue attack in the 38th minute. Coach Tom Sermanni said that it was a strained hamstring, and was doubtful that Belanger could return to action for the final match of the season on September 24. This is yet just another body blow to the team that has faced a series of injuries, retirements, and roster changes throughout the season.

The Historic

  • Lisa De Vanna's first start - Matildas captain Lisa De Vanna made her first start for the Pride. She played 61 minutes and was very active on the pitch. There are encouraging signs from her debut start, but it's clear that she and the team will need more time together to develop the kind of chemistry on the pitch that will help her reach peak performance. 

What about you? What were your thoughts on the match? Besides Ashlyn Harris and Kristen Edmonds, who do you think deserves MVP consideration for the team? Let me know in the comments below!