It was a frustrating night. The Orlando Pride (8-9-6, 30 points) lost 3-1 to the Chicago Red Stars (8-4-10, 34 points) on Saturday in front of 5,016 fans at Orlando City Stadium. With the loss, Orlando Pride is eliminated from playoff contention.
The once vaunted talent packed team showed a lack of urgency once again in the must win game, and allowed Chicago to increase it’s playoff chances with mistakes and lack of organization.
“I think we definitely had just mental lapses throughout the game that were pivotal in the way that the game went.” Said one of the team’s stars, Alex Morgan “But it was our last game of the season here at Orlando City Stadium and obviously we wanted to end on a high note, that didn’t happen. We haven’t been on the same pages a lot this season between players, between each other, between coaches and players, I think it’s been a little disjointed.”
The game started and lasted seven minutes when the match was stopped due to lightening in the area. That delay lasted 45 minutes.
When the match resumed, Chicago came out ready to play, while Orlando took a little time to get into the groove. Chioma Ubogogu managed a solid cross shot towards the Chicago goal but failed to connect, which has been common for the Pride this year.
Chicago’s Samantha Kerr, Yuki Nagasato, and Vanessa Di Bernardo were relentless in their attack for most of the game. Kerr scored the opening goal in the 44th minute. The second goal came soon after when Orlando was left flat footed and Chicago hit right back. Kerr found Di Bernardo with about as easy a goal as they come. Two defenders were nearby but neither Krieger nor Kristen Edmonds closed down Di Bernardo.
After the Pride fell behind, they pressed forward more, looking tor scoring opportunities and left their back line vulnerable. After a lackluster start to the second half, Sermanni wasted no time in bringing on Rachel Hill in the 54th minute and she provided a much-needed energy. However, she was unable to do much with that energy, and it slowly dissipated.
As Orlando pressed to try to create scoring opportunities, Chicago attacked the Pride’ back line, with Kerr making her second goal in the 59th minute and put the game out of reach.
The Pride pulled one back in the 65th minute when Marta lofted a cross into the box that Morgan headed inside the far post. It was Morgan’s fifth goal of the season and Marta’s fourth assist, tying Nairn for the team lead.
Chicago was able to hold out for the remainder of the game. The Pride tried to push forward but just could not hold onto the ball long enough to have any true chance at getting back into the game. The off-the-ball movement was almost nonexistent. Overall, the play was far too slow and there were hardly ever more than one or two players in the box.
“To be honest, I’m a little bit embarrassed by the performance tonight, if I’m being frank. Aspects of our game, fundamental aspects of our game that should be an automatic are not an automatic,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “That’s the thing now, I’ve got to apologize to the fans. As a coach, I put a team out there that on paper looks high quality but has actually performed very poor. That’s down to me. I apologize to them for how we’ve done, particularly tonight.”
Orlando will play its season finale on Saturday, Sept. 8, at Sky Blue FC.