I am hopeful that the season documenting the Orlando Pride will be more fulfilling than it seems like the season documenting OCSC will be. The Pride had a strong season in 2017 and looked to get even stronger in 2018 with some off-season acquisitions.
Meanwhile, the Utah Royals are "familiar faces in new places," if you will. The club that is 2018's Utah Royals were 2017's FC Kansas City, relocated to The Beehive State for this season. It's a positive move for the league, in my opinion, and I think the future of the NWSL is to grow the league by adding teams that are co-owned and located with MLS franchises.
Three Points for Victory
- Integrate the New Players Successfully - The Orlando Pride have made a number of changes. Back on February 7 I documented the changes in the roster to that point. Since then two more players from last season were waived: Nickolette Driesse and Jamia Fields. The Pride have also added two new players to the 2018 roster: Emily van Egmond and Haley Kopmeyer.
- Emily van Egmond is an Australian defender who was part of ner nation's 2016 Olympic team that reached the quarterfinals. She also has league experience in her native Australia (W-League) as well as the USA (NWSL) and Germany (Frauen-Bundesliga).
- Haley Kopmeyer is in her sixth professional season at goalkeeper, most of which was spent with the Seattle Reign. Kopmeyer was a long-time backup to Hope Solo and had chances to play during International Call-ups when Solo was with the USWNT. With former backup keeper Aubrey Bledsoe being traded in the off-season, the Pride needed someone who can step in when Ashlyn Harris gets called up for International Duty or should she miss time with an injury.
- Play Hungry, Not Desperate - The start of the Orlando City season has been an unmitigated disaster because the team has looked like chaos. Everyone is trying very hard, but they are trying hard at playing 11 different individual games instead of focused on common goals (pun intended). It gives the team a sense of desperation that is sometimes painful to watch. Last season, the Orlando Pride had a unified attack that helped them be the top scoring team in the NWSL. If they can repeat the same focus and hunger, they can build on the disappointment of the playoff loss at Portland. The Pride stands a chance to not only repeat as the league's top scoring team but also reach the NWSL Finals this season.
- Defend Home Turf - The Pride had a record of 6-2-4 at Orlando City Stadium last season. Having only a 50% win rate at home may not be good enough to reach the playoffs this season. The Pride will need to win the majority of their home matches this season to help them improve their chances of reaching the playoffs. At the very least, if the Pride go dominate their opponents in the match, it may shame Orlando City into getting their collective act together and winning a damned match for once.
Tomorrow on the blog, I'll have my Players to Watch column. We'll look at the most dynamic players on the Pride and the Royals alike. Later in the week, I'll review the Series History, Tactics & Traps, and Sub-in Notes for the match, as well as my Preview match next Saturday morning.
And don't forget tonight is the Pride in the House event. I'll be at the stadium and will hope to post some Instagram photos and maybe a Facebook Live session with some other fans or possibly someone from the team if I can arrange it. Be sure to follow on all the social media channels to stay up to date.
What do you think the Pride will need to do to secure the victory? Are there any specific tactics you'd like to see the team employ against the Royals next weekend? Let me know in the comments below!