April 20, 2017 at Seminole Soccer Complex

Availability: GK Ashlyn Harris

The Orlando Pride will play their first game in Orlando City Stadium on Saturday against the Washington Spirit.

I mean, it’s a pretty surreal feeling. For me, I’m really excited about the stadium, but I’m more about the results. Like, I wanna come out there on Saturday, and I want this team to be buzzing. I want us to play quality football that fans wanna come back and watch. That’s super important for me. And I do think, you know, just feeling the vibe and the energy going to the men’s game, I think that’s our 12th man—100 percent. I think they’re game-changers for us. So, to be able to fill the stadium, continuously get good, large amounts of crowd is pretty important, but it boils down to the product on the field. I mean, we gotta play. And we gotta play well, and we gotta play the kind of soccer that people are willing to come back and watch. So that’s kinda where my head’s at, and that’s where everyone’s—that’s what we have to do. We have to produce results. You know, [CEO Alex Leitão] has made it very clear. You know, this isn’t a charity to have a women’s team. He’s investing in this because he wants to bring a championship, and he wants to continue to see the evolution of the game and continue it to grow. So, we’ve got a responsibility.

For Harris, her team’s deficiency in completing scoring chances was the difference in the team’s 2-0 loss to the Portland Thorns.

I think it was pretty clear. Our final third wasn’t good enough. We had plenty of opportunities, and we didn’t produce results. We gotta score goals to win at the end of the day. I think with players coming in and attacking players coming in, the players here have a lot to prove. If they want to get on this field, they gotta score goals. That’s why we have Marta [Vieira da SIlva] coming in, and that’s why she’ll play Saturday, as far as I see. We need her. We need her to score goals. She’s gonna be a game-changer for us.

Brazilian soccer star Marta will be introduced at a press conference on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Everyone’s excited. I mean, how could you not be? She’s, you know, the GOAT. She’s the best player in the world. It’s a no-brainer. She’s gonna help this club, and she’s gonna put people in the seats, and I don’t know if a lot of people know how good she is, but she is enjoyable to watch because she is like no other player in the world, both men and women. She is crafty. She is technical. She has it all.

When asked about what she saw in the Spirit on film, Harris said it’s about focusing on her side.

To be honest, I don’t see them. I see us. If we do the things that we need to do right, this game is about us. It’s not about D.C., it’s not about the style they play. We are committed and focused to our game plan. If we stick to that, I don’t care who we play, what things we come up against, we’re gonna get good results. So, right now, our focus is us. It’s not gonna be a walk in the park. You can’t just show up and get three points. So we know what it’s gonna take, and it starts by focusing in on us and what we have to do.

For Harris, she believes her connection with fans is so prominent because of her unabashed personality.

I think what you see is what you get with me. There’s no, like, hidden motives or different agendas. I try to be as authentic and genuine as I possibly can to my fans. And I try to share my story and my scars, and I think people gravitate towards that. I think people feel like they can relate in a lot of ways, and I think that people find a pretty unique connection because what I do on the field is just entertain. What I do off the field is what I treasure. And that’s creating intimate connections and bonds with people because that’s lasting. That’s life-long stuff. That’s what I find is the success to living my life a full life. It is really touching people’s lives. And if I spend time talking to one person, and I have a breakthrough, then that’s good enough for me. So, I really take that stuff serious. And I think people see it. And people want to be a part of it.

Harris said her team’s defense is in contention to be the best in the league.

I don’t think it’s easy playing against a quality team the first game. Portland, hands down, has the best individual players in this league. So, I think it was a good test for us. I think that game could’ve been different the first 20 minutes if we put the ball in the back of the net, but we didn’t, and that’s what happens. But, you know what, I’m not worried about it. I think it is a learning lesson. I think we come back this week. We’ve been doing a lot of connecting in the final third. I think that was the missing link in the Portland game is we just couldn’t get in the goal zone. We couldn’t figure it out. We couldn’t connect passes. We couldn’t finish our opportunity. So, you can see, even the practice is ended, and people are out there shooting and finishing and connecting and feeling that because it needs to be better against D.C. Like I said before, you don’t score, you don’t win games. So that’s our emphasis and our focus at this point. I’m really happy about our defense. I think, you know, maybe they got behind us once or twice, but we have a damn good defense. And I would contest to say best in the league. So I’m very comfortable. I’m very happy. I don’t think the result reflects on how good we played as a back-line. But it’s only gonna get better as we continue to play together and grow. It’s a brand-new back-line. It’s not the same as last year. So I’m excited for the weekend.