The Orlando Pride are a quarter way through their season with six matches played from a 24-match schedule. At the moment they have a 2-2-2 record, which would put them on pace for 32 points, or 10 points below their 2017 season total. That would likely not be enough to make the playoffs, but the Pride also had a slow start in 2017 before going on a winning streak in the second half of the season. Honestly, it's a bit too early to be projecting the season form for the team, but it's interesting to see where the team stands.
Of more relevance is a look at which players are off to a good start in the 2018 season. Due to so many players being involved in International Play during April, stats for the team seem a bit incomplete, and the following list focuses on those players who have a minimum of three starts with the team so far, in order to get meaningful data.
- Scoring - Chioma Ubogagu (3)
- Assists - Christine Nairn (2)
- Shots - Sydney Leroux (12)
- Key Passes - Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan (7 each)
- Touches - Ali Krieger (437)
- Pass Completion Rate - Dani Weatherholt (81.5%)
- Tackles - Dani Weatherholt (17)
- Saves - Ashlyn Harris (15)
For fans who have followed the team all three seasons, it should be no surprise to see Dani Weatherholt leading in both the passing completion rate and tackle categories. She has consistently been a tenacious presence on the pitch to chase down every opposing player with a ball on her feet, and she has worked to improve her all-around game season by season.
It's also no surprise to see that superstars Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan co-leading Key Passes. Everyone thinks of these players as great scorers, and their careers are marked with great goals. But they are also unselfish players who always think of team success over individual accolades, and they always look for ways to put the team in the best position to score.
Matchday News and Preview
News came out earlier in the week that Monica has a left adductor strain and is questionable for tonight's match. I'm almost certain that Coach Tom Sermanni will opt to rest the Brazilian on Wednesday night because the Pride has an extremely short turn-around when they play in the Lifetime Match of the Week on Saturday afternoon at Portland. If an extra couple of days can get Monica closer to 100% fitness, having her rested and giving a break to a player that goes the full 90 in the thin air of Rio Tinto Stadium (4,450 feet above sea level) will be a benefit to the club.
I'm calling for only two changes to the Starting XI from last week's win over the Chicago Red Stars. With Alex Morgan back to full health, I think she will get the start, and Toni Pressley will be at center back in place of Monica. I hope this will be the week that Sydney and Alex both can score goals from the run of play.
The Royals are dealing with some injury issues of their own. The NWSL injury report lists three players as out for this match: Alex Arlitt (left knee strain – D45), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion – SEI), Elise Thorsnes (left hamstring strain). Thorsnes was the only one of the three to feature in the season opener against the Pride, where she started and played for 62 minutes.
The win at Chicago was good on the scoreboard and there were some nice plays made by the Pride in that one, but it still didn't feel like the team has put it all together and hit their stride yet. With the full roster having another week of bonding on and off the practice pitch, I have a feeling that we'll see an even sharper and more focused performance from Tom Sermanni's side tomorrow night. So I'm going to be very bold and call for a 3 - 0 victory for our ladies.
What are your thoughts on tonight's match? Do you agree with my lineup, or do you think Tom makes some different selections with the match against Portland coming up on Saturday? Let me know in the comments below!