Notes & Quotes: Orlando Pride (3/31)

The Orlando Pride have two remaining preseason friendlies before starting the 2017 National Women's Soccer League season.

Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni instructs his team during a training session at Sylvan Lake Park on Thursday, March 16, 2017. (Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

March 31, 2017 at Sylvan Lake Park

Availability: HC Tom Sermanni

HC Tom Sermanni

So far this preseason, the Orlando Pride are 3-0.

I wouldn’t say we’re doing so well. I think it’s very sort of early in the season, so we’re still early in the preseason. But we’re doing okay. We’ve sort of improved some things from game to game. The key thing for us is to continue to make those improvements as we head closer to the season.

The Pride shut out the University of Florida 3-0 on Wednesday.

Gives the players confidence. I think the better results you get, whenever in the season, gives players confidence. And I think, as I say, the key thing at the moment is to get players games, is to look at match fitness, look at the system we might play and, at the same time, obviously try and get some positive results.

When asked about what he wants his team to improve on before the season starts, Sermanni said “everything.”

Probably everything would be the answer to that. You know, we’re looking at what system we think will work best. We’re looking at—already thinking ahead what might a starting team be in the first game against Portland. But balancing that out with making sure players get match practice but also get match fitness. So it’s a whole variety of those things.

The Pride narrowly defeated the University of South Florida 2-1 with a stoppage-time goal.

It’s not so negatively. It’s more of things that you do need to improve on, particularly in preseason. I think in that game there’re a couple of key things. One was you have to finish chances when you get them. And that’s really, really important. I think often we come away from games and say, “Well, you created a lot of chances,” but the key thing is to actually finish them. And we just, in general, I think some of our decision-making and cohesion was just a little bit lacking on that day. But that’s why you play preseason games. And, to be honest, that’s the value of preseason games because the last thing you want is everything to go smoothly, and then, suddenly, as it gets close to the season, things go wrong, and you don’t have time to fix ’em.

When asked about the value of preseason matches, Sermanni said there’s a constant sense of assessing.

Well that’s exactly the value. You’re constantly assessing players; you’re assessing system; you’re assessing how you think your team’s going to—you got an idea in your head how you want to play, but then you’ve got to have the pragmatism to look at what’s best for us and along with that and obviously the importance of playing games to get match fitness. You know, it’s a whole combination of those things.

In the Pride’s most recent preseason-roster update, trialist goalkeeper Amanda Kopale was removed from the list. Hannah Seabert is the official third-string goalie for the Pride.

Well, there’s not much. They’ve both done really well, but we looked at Hannah before preseason and kind of ear-marked her. So, when she came in here, she was initially—not that that made a difference—but she was initially ear-marked for that amateur or third position. And she’s done well enough to keep that. I think the thing that she brings to the team is that she’s got great athleticism. She brings a presence in goal, and she’s got the ability to make saves at critical times. Amanda, technically, is very, very good and is very good with her feet. So, we’re very fortunate that we’ve got four goalkeepers that train very well.

When asked about the utility of the third-string goalkeeper spot, Sermanni said it’s a unique one.

It’s a kind of unique spot. You need, preferably, the right goalkeeper, and you need the right person because they know they’re not gonna going to get much, if any, game time at all. They need to be a good trainer. They need to be a good teammate. They need to be prepared to do things in training to complement what the two signed goalkeepers need. So, it’s a whole mix of things. It’s a position that’s an ideal one for a young, up-and-coming goalkeeper because they get the opportunity to be in a full-time environment. They get the opportunity to work with an outstanding goalkeeper coach, and they get the opportunity to work with one of the best goalkeepers in the world. So those are the trade-offs for the fact that you have to realize in the scheme of things, those other two goalkeepers come first.

Orlando will face off against Florida State University on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Continue to improve the tempo of how we play. Continue to improve how we do in both attacking and defensive transition. So those are kind of a couple of things that we want to do better. And the third thing is that we want to not just play a good tempo, but we want to play possession better.

When asked about how his team was progressing, Sermanni said he was “quite satisfied.”

Quite satisfied. Never, ever completely satisfied, but, at the moment, we’re generally in a good place. Everybody’s fit and healthy ,which is a good thing with two weeks to go. I think we’ve got good competition in the squad, and I think we’ve got good balance in the squad.

The Pride will be showcased in seven nationally televised matches this season.

Means we’re playing in very hot weather. Look, it’s terrific. I think that says everything about Orlando as a club, Orlando City, Orlando Pride. It just says how important a club they are to the game and this country and to our league. And it’s fantastic for our players. I think it’s fantastic for the club that we’re able to get on television so often. For me, I’m not so sure. I might need to get some of my wrinkles ironed out and get my hair tinted, but, outside of that, I think it’s a great compliment to the club.

Sermanni is simply looking forward to competing in meaningful matches.

Most looking forward to it starting. You know, to actually games getting underway. So we felt like we sat on our hands for four or five months. Now we’re in the swing of day-to-day training, which is great. And now that the thing that we want to do now and everybody’s eager to do now is get prepared for a real, proper league match. So, just be great to walk out on the field at Portland and know that we’re starting again.