The best thing about coming to the end of a disappointing season is that it is the end. Today marks the last time Orlando Pride fans will have to endure the heartache of an underperforming team at home this season. It's almost certainly the final time fans will see both Alex Morgan and Marta in a Pride uniform--the only time either of those two may play competitively on the pitch at Orlando City Stadium will be as representatives of their national teams or as members of a visiting NWSL side.
As a fan, my disappointment with this season started with the lack of support shown by a city that claims to care about soccer. I am prepared to declare that Orlando is not a true soccer town and doesn't truly embrace their local teams. The only team in the USA that can really make that claim with any kind of credibility is Portland, Oregon. There may be other cities that can make that claim, but presently Portland is the only one with a top tier Men's (MLS) and Women's (NWSL) team that adequately supports both sides. Until Orlando can compete in passion and creativity for support of both their franchises, the only soccer capital fans in this city can claim is that of their own muddled imaginations.
My disappointment with the season continued when a literal all-star roster failed to be able to create any consistent results throughout the season. During International breaks, the team has had two American starters, two Australian starters, and as many as four Brazilian starters away for their national side. And at season's start, the Pride had the Swedish international Lotta Okvist on the team, and she was never even given a chance to play.
In a way it doesn't surprise me--the dysfunction that the front office has caused in the MLS side seems to have infested the NWSL team as well. Add to that the fact that Coach Tom Sermanni seems to perhaps take data analysis to an extreme by playing a lineup that is shuffled every week based on matchups with the other team. I won't claim to have ever played the game competitively or to have coached a match in my life, but soccer is the kind of fluid game where it seems having a "sixth sense" connection with teammates will build cohesion, accuracy, and synchronous results. Passing gets more accurate and crosses or attempted assists get more effective as players gain more confidence with the same teammates being on the pitch together match after match.
Injuries and International Duty
The Pride will be missing Sydney Leroux from a concussion, and the NWSL injury report lists Christine Nairn as questionable with a right foot contusion. The Red Stars will be without Stephanie McCaffrey, who is out for illness, and Summer Green is away for U-23 International Duty.
The Pride is so far out of contention it doesn't really matter what they do in this match. I called time of death on the season when they could muster no better than a draw against Sky Blue a few weeks ago. Of course, the mathematicians will say there's a chance that the Pride could tie with Portland for 3rd place, but that depends on both Chicago and Utah going winless the rest of the season and the Pride winning out. I don't put any faith in any of those scenarios playing out, unfortunately. I think the players have already checked out for the season, so it's likely the Pride will add to fans' disappointment on the season with one final home loss, 2-0. I'm sorry that I can't muster any more confidence in the team, but they are really not giving me any reason.