Orlando Pride Preview: Pride Face Sky Blue to Conclude Home-and-Home Series

Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni points during a training session at Sylvan Lake Park on Friday, Sept. 9, 2016. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Notes & Quotes: Orlando Pride (9/9)

The countdown continues, as the Orlando Pride’s inaugural season in the National Women’s Soccer League slowly draws to an end. Their final two games begin with the conclusion of a home-and-home series with Sky Blue FC that will be played on Saturday at Camping World Stadium.

For Pride head coach Tom Sermanni, two matches in a row against the same team makes preparation simpler.

“Apart from the short time frame, it does make life easier because you’re only looking at one video,” Sermanni said after training Thursday. “So, in the sense of the preparation, it’s probably a little easier. In the sense of playing a team back to back, you really don’t know.”

Orlando tied with the New Jersey-based team 1-1 on Wednesday behind a goal from Alex Morgan. Sam Kerr scored Sky Blue’s goal.

But while the Pride are out of contention for a playoff spot, Sermanni has set an end-of-the-season goal for his team.

“We gave the players a little target with four games to go that we wanted seven points, so we need to win those last two games to get those seven points,” Sermanni said. “And if we can do that, then I think we can walk away and say we had a decent season.”

New addition Lisa De Vanna, who made her first appearance for the Pride on Wednesday, should provide extra offensive pressure if she is afforded more time on the pitch. The Australian women’s national team player, who entered Wednesday’s match in the 88th minute, has scored 70 goals in club play across the world.

She is eager to play for her new team and fans.

“I was hoping to play more than two games,” De Vanna said after training Friday. “I was originally meant to play about five or six, but that’s out of your control. But the next couple of games, it’s at home.

“Me, personally, I want to show the Orlando Pride fans what they’ve come to see. I’m an exciting player when I’m on the ball, so hopefully they’ll get to see a lot of that, and my teammates get to see how I play, as well.”

As for the Pride’s other newly added player, defender McKenzie Berryhill, she has yet to see time on the pitch for Orlando. Sermanni said the recent stretch of games has not allowed for a proper evaluation of the 23-year-old to see how she’ll fit in with the rest of the team.

“It’s a little more complicated with her,” Sermanni said. “Ideally, we’d love to be able to give her a run before the end of the season; practically, I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do that.”

After Saturday’s match, Morgan, Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and defender Monica Hickmann Alves will play in international friendlies for their respective countries. Unlike the call-ups for the 2016 Olympic Games, these ones will occur during the team’s bye week from Sept. 12 to 18.

Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 7:30 p.m.

(Featured photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)