The Orlando Pride return home this weekend still searching for their first win of 2018. While the Pride appears to be the most dominant team in the league on paper, that hasn't translated to much success on the pitch so far this season. It would be easy to point to five starters being away on International Duty or the fact that Camila has yet to see the pitch while recovering from an injury, but superstar players Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan have been a bit underwhelming so far this season, and it's time for them to get on track.
Three Points to Victory
- Defend Home Turf - The Pride is facing a Houston Dash team that is -3 in goal differential on the season. The Dash have scored only one goal through three games, so it will be a good opponent for the Pride to begin bolstering a defense that has proved leak-prone during its first three matches.
- Score Early, Score Often - I mentioned above that I've been less than impressed with the play of both Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan so far this season. Their fitness level doesn't seem to be in question--they both can run rings around some players we have had on the MLS team since 2015. But when you have world-class strikers on your team you expect them to put the ball into the back of the net and they are not doing that consistently. I expect goals from both players and it would be nice to see at least a third goal go up on the board as well.
- Whole Lotta Love - The team has not been finding success with the current lineup rotation and there are some players on the team with International experience that have yet to see the pitch. Among these are Nadia Gomes and Lotta Okvist. It would be really great to see both the Portuguese and the Swede get some minutes in this match, either in the Starting XI or playing some significant minutes from the bench. Einstein said that continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity--I think it's time for Tom Sermanni to shuffle the lineup card and see if that sparks some better play from the team.
Players to Watch - Houston Dash
- Haley Hanson - Hanson has played all 270 minutes so far. Through the first three matches, she has 157 touches, one shot, and is averaging 79.87% pass completion.
- Kristen Mewis - The USWNT veteran has played all 270 minutes and has seven tackles, 190 Touches, and is averaging 62.2% pass completion. In the last match, Mewis also had the misfortune to score an own goal.
- Rachel Daly - The England International has also played all 270 minutes. She has accumulated 248 touches, 136 passes, and is averaging 66.3% pass completion.
Players to Watch - Orlando Pride
- Shelina Zadorsky - The Canadian defender has played all 270 minutes so far this season. Through the first three matches, she has 197 touches, 156 passes, and is averaging 79.37% pass completion.
- Christine Nairn - The USWNT veteran has also played 270 minutes on the season. She also has recorded the only assist on the team so far in 2018. Through three games she has 190 touches, five shots, and she is averaging 66.77% pass completion.
- Dani Weatherholt - The tenacious midfielder has played 270 minutes on the season. She has picked up nine tackles, 206 touches, and she is averaging 77.8% pass completion.
- Apr 23 at ORL: Pride 3 - 1 Dash
- May 20 at HOU: Pride 1 - 0 Dash
- Jun 23 at ORL: Pride 1 - 0 Dash
- Sep 03 at HOU: Pride 2 - 4 Dash
- Jun 17 at HOU: Pride 4 - 2 Dash
- Jun 24 at ORL: Pride 0 - 2 Dash
- Wins: Pride 4, Dash 2, Draws 0
- Goals: Pride 10, Dash 9
- At ORL: Pride 2 - 1 - 0
I am really hopeful that the Pride will get their first win of the season on Sunday. It will be great morale for the team to know that they don't have to have the Brazilians and Australians available to win, since there will be more rounds of World Cup Qualifying in the season that may take those players away for stretches at a time.
What do you expect from the team this weekend? Will Syd and Alex finally get on the scoreboard, or do you believe someone else will show up for the Pride? Do you think the Pride will be able to win without their Brazilian and Australian starters, or will it take the roster returning to full strength before they get the first win of the season? Let me know in the comments below.