ORANDO, FL – On a night of ‘Lasts”, the Orlando Pride lost their final game of the 2021 in a 0-1 loss to the Chicago Stars at Exploria Stadium on Friday night.
Since the Pride was already eliminated from the payoff picture, the lineup was an opportunity for younger players to take the pitch, while others rested injuries, causing a bit of disjointed ness on offense and defense. They were missing multiple key contributors. Marta (right knee), Meggie Dougherty Howard (right foot), Taylor Kornieck (right ankle), Ashlyn Harris (right hip), and Ali Krieger (right knee) were left out of the team.
Chicago, In the third position in the standings, powered through, attacking balls, and seizing on Orlando miscues to push the Pride defense.
In the 65th minute, Lealia Watt scored the game’s lone goal by taking a Morgan Gautrat pass and blasting a shot into the far post. that goal turned out to be all that was needed for the night.
It turned out to be a night of lasts as it was the final game of the season as well as the final game for interim head coach Becky Burleigh, who joined the team after the sudden exit by former head coach Marc Skinner. Now she vows the help the next manager.
“I’d do it all again,” Burleigh said. “They need to find someone that has got a little bit longer-term perspective and that was never going to be me. … I just want good things for the organization. I‘m definitely going to continue to watch the Pride, [but] maybe from a little bit different angle now.”
As far as the game, I thought Phoebe [McClernon] and Toni [Pressley] played an outstanding game. It’s a partnership at center back that we hadn’t played before, so for them to do such a great job with that was a real credit to both of them. I thought in the first half we had a hard time keeping the ball in the final third. We just couldn’t quite connect and obviously you have to give Chicago a little bit of credit for that too. It got a little better in the second half, but still not enough quality chances to be able to break through.”
After this season’s 7-game winning streak for an open, this looked like this would be a solid year for the Pride, but after the resignation of Skinner, the Tokyo olympics taking away y Alex Morgan and other talent, and other issues, this seas kind of fell in line with other, making it the 4th season in a row that the pride failed make the playoffs.
The low expectations have also seemed to effect the fan base. The team, who has struggled to draw crowds, average attendance of around 4,000 spectators, even with greats such as Marta and Morgan on the field. Yes, post COVID-19 might have had an effect on things, and hopefully with new owner Mark Will at the helm, investments in the club’s marketing and the team overall will create a buzz.
ThePride were closes that they have been internees of player unity. With the sexual harassment issues that is plaguing the league that was exposed this season, their strength in unity will help them forward into 2022
As noted earlier in this story, this was a night of lasts. This match would also be the last covered by Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel who revealed her exit earlier this week. Julia has been a top notch professional in her coverage of Orlando professional soccer, and we at 24FLIX sports thank her for all that she has done in assisting us with coverage and wish her God’s speed as she moves on to her next challenge.