(Photo by Victor Tan / New Day Review)

Match Recap

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni rarely describes games as “must-win,” but, for the second-year Pride boss, his team’s match against FC Kansas City on Saturday was just that for him. Fortunately for Sermanni and the Pride, Orlando (5-5-4, 19 points) ran away with a 4-1 win over Kansas City (3-7-4, 13 points) in front of 6,073 fans at Orlando City Stadium.

“What we said at the end of the game tonight is, you know, we want this to be the foundation of what we’re going to do,” Sermanni said after the match. “We don’t want to now have a good result and then come back and have a bad result and then a good result and a bad result. What we need to do is try to get on a run, if we can.”

An early 2-0 lead for the Pride was cut in half when 63rd-minute substitute Maegan Kelly scored in the 65th minute. Shortly after, though, center-back Toni Pressley scored her first goal of the season and her first Pride goal on a long-range shot that lasered toward the back post for a 3-1 Pride lead.

“The goal—something just told me to go get it from Camila [Martins Pereira], and, I don’t know. It just worked out,” Pressley said after the match. “I took a touch, and I beat the defender, and it got in the right spot… I knew that I was pretty close to goal and decided to go for it. Why not? It worked out.”

Kelly wouldn’t be the only substitute to come in and make an immediate, scoring impact, though. After Kristen Edmonds came into the game in the 71st minute, she scored her first goal of the season in the 75th minute. Edmonds sped in front of Kansas City goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart on her attempt to clear the ball, took a touch or two to her left and slotted the ball into the empty net for a 4-1 lead.

“We needed to put on a performance for the people in Orlando, for our supporters and for everybody in the community, and I think we did that tonight,” Sermanni said. “I thought our soccer was incisive. We played the way we’ve been trying to play and created lots of chances. Probably could’ve finished the game off long before it went to 2-1 and had a little dodgy spell at that period of time.”

It was only a matter of time until the Pride scored on one of their 11 first-half shots. After Alex Morgan’s header that skimmed the top of the crossbar and Camila’s long-range shot that went wide left, midfielder Alanna Kennedy notched the first score of the game in the 22nd minute. Camila first dropped a short-corner pass to Marta Vieira da Silva, who found space near the end-line and crossed it into the middle of the box toward Kennedy’s head for her second goal of the season.

“We’ve had so many set pieces this year, and we’ve come close a lot,” Kennedy said after the match. “Although we haven’t capitalized, we still know that that’s a strength of ours. And I think with that first chance that Alex had, I think it allowed us to see the momentum that we had and give us the confidence… I think that ball that Marta played in was just perfect, and I was happy to get on the end of it.”

Morgan doubled the Pride’s lead in the 38th minute after she drew a foul inside the box on a set piece and scored on the ensuing penalty kick. That was Morgan’s first goal of 2017 for the Pride.

Two minutes after Morgan’s score, Kansas City recorded its first and only on-target shot of the first half. After the ball bounced gently to an open Brittany Ratcliffe, she turned and sent the ball toward the back post from the left part of Orlando’s box. Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe then made a diving, one-handed save to maintain Orlando’s 2-0 lead.

Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan

In her first full game of the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season, Morgan recorded a game-high seven shots (game-high four on goal), created a game-high four chances, drew two fouls and completed 76.7 percent of her 30 passes.

Morgan also scored her first goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 38th minute to give the Pride a 2-0 lead.

What’s next?

The Pride will next travel to face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Highlights

NDR Notes

  • Morgan played her first full, 90-minute game of the season.
  • The Pride’s four goals is the highest-scoring performance by the Pride in team history.
  • Morgan, Pressley and Edmonds all scored their first goals of the season.
  • Orlando set a new home-scoring record by notching four goals in the win over Kansas City.

Scoring

Time Team Goal-scorer Assisted by
22’ Orlando Pride Alanna Kennedy Marta Vieira da Silva
38’ Orlando Pride Alex Morgan PENALTY
65’ FC Kansas City Maegan Kelly Katie Bowen
70’ Orlando Pride Toni Pressley Camila Martins Pereira
75’ Orlando Pride Kristen Edmonds n/a

Statistics and Starting Lineups

Goals Assists Shots Shots on Goal Possession %
Orlando Pride 4 3 25 11 51.4%
FC Kansas City 1 1 10 4 48.6%

Orlando Pride starting XI (4-2-3-1): Aubrey Bledsoe (GK); Steph Catley, Toni Pressley, Ali Krieger (C), Camila Martins Pereira; Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt; Chioma Ubogagu, Marta Vieira da Silva, Rachel Hill; Alex Morgan

FC Kansas City starting XI (4-4-2): Nicole Barnhart (GK); Rebecca Moros, Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn (C), Brittany Taylor; Brittany Ratcliffe, Christina Gibbons, Desiree Scott, Katie Bowen; Sydney Leroux, Erika Tymrak


For more on the Pride as they continue their charge toward the top of the standings, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.

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