The Portland Thorns take on the Orlando Pride to open the 2017 NWSL Season. To find out more about the Pride as we enter a new season, I reached out to Michael Citro of The Mane Land
What is the buzz around the Pride as they enter their second season?
Obviously the biggest buzz is the Marta signing. Adding a player of that caliber, even if she’s perhaps lost a step, has fans excited about the season. The new additions in general are cause for celebration among the supporters. Ali Krieger and Alanna Kennedy should help to plug up what was a leaky defense. There is more striker depth with the signing of Chioma Ubogagu. All told, the Pride should be a deeper team than last year and without the Olympics or a World Cup this year, the roster should be intact for the majority of the games.
Saturday's game had the potential to see two of the biggest signings in league history with Amandine Henry and Marta on the pitch at the same time, but it sounds like Marta will be unavailable. Who is likely to step into her place?
I think we’ll see Ubogagu and perhaps Jasmyne Spencer up top for this game. Without Alex Morgan and Marta available that’s probably Tom Sermanni’s best option. Ubogagu didn’t produce a lot with the Houston Dash last year, but she had a terrific preseason in terms of finding the net.
The loss of Alex Morgan for the first part of the season would appear to have significantly impacted the Pride attack. Who should the Thorns' defense be keying in on during the match?
As mentioned above, Ubogagu and Spencer will likely be looked to for offense and both had strong preseason campaigns. Perhaps more dangerous, however, is the Pride’s returning leading goal scorer, Kristen Edmonds. She can be quite dangerous on set pieces and also in open play. Edmonds had a career year last season and continued that during the 2017 preseason. Defender Steph Catley, who scored at Portland last year, is always dangerous up the left flank and also on set pieces. Those are the most likely candidates to score on the road for the Pride.
To see our answers to Michael’s questions, visit The Mane Land.