The season is finally here. Portland takes the road to open their season at Orlando City Stadium against the Pride without Emily Menges but with an otherwise complete looking roster. Midge Purce is listed as questionable. It will be the Pride’s first game since firing their first and only coach, Tom Sermanni, in favor of Birmingham coach Marc Skinner. The Pride suffered a massive late season slump, dumping them into seventh place after flirting with making the playoffs for much of the early part of the season, so they have significant improvement to do despite the impressive talent in the squad.
Orlando will be missing Toni Pressley in defense (a player who has had good games against Portland in the past) while Camila, after supposedly leaving the club but rejoining as a training player, is questionable. Sydney Leroux is a long-term absence due to pregnancy.
“Everyone on the Thorns has been saying they expect the unexpected in the first game of the season. Meghan Klingenberg: “It’s wild. Every single time”. Mark Parsons: “In this league, you have to be able to manage chaos [...] my prediction would be the first half is would be very different from the second half, that’s often how it is. It’s going to be 45 minutes of utter chaos.”
That’s not to say there won’t be some kind of pattern, and even with the uncertainty around how Marc Skinner will set his team up Orlando is likely to play to their strengths. Defensively, handling Alex Morgan is a task unto itself, but by far the most effective way to do this is to get effective control of the midfield and deny her service, pulling her away from goal to prevent her from making runs in behind, still the thing she does best. Christine Sinclair and Lindsey Horan will have to prevent Emily Van Egmond and whoever her midfield partner is (likely Dani Weatherholt) from having time on the ball, and the matchup would appear to be a favorable one. Sinclair and Van Egmond can slug it out physically leaving Horan free to hunt the ball where she needs to, including doubling on Marta when necessary.”
This week’s Red Smoke Radio also previewed the game.
How to Watch
Where: Orlando City Stadium, Orlando, Florida
When: Sunday, April 14, 2pm PT