ORLANDO – The Orlando Pride (8-7-6, 30 points) were defeated by the Portland Thorns (9-6-5, 32 points) 2-0 in front of 6,012 fans in Orlando City Stadium. The Loss dropped Orlando from third to fourth in the NWSL standings and one point above fifth the place Chicago Stars.
Orlando started the game by dominating play. They spent a good amount of the first 30 minutes in the Portland half of the field. Orlando took 9 shots in the first half, but the latest trend with the Pride is the lack of creating good scoring opportunities, and thus no goals.
In the 16th minute, Hayley Raso looked like she was close to getting the Thorns on the board early when Pride defender Alanna Kennedy tried to make a back pass to Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. Raso was pressing and was able to read the play and get a strike off near post.
Two minutes later, Pride forward Marta had a free kick from outside the box. Her shot was going to the far post, but Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch made a leaping punch save to keep the game scoreless.
When the second half began, it was like the two teams had switched personalities. Portland was on the charge and Orlando was on it’s heels. Orlando Coach Tom Sermanni was not pleased with what he witnessed.
“We started out terrific first 15, 20 minutes, probably searching into the first 30 minutes. I thought we dictated the game, the tempo was good, our attacking was good, movement was good. But then we don’t score. You dominate and dominate in games and you don’t score,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “And then second half it looked like we put a different team out on the park. Same bodies, but a different team out on the field in the second half and the game was over within seven minutes.”
Portland broke through two minutes into the second half when Lindsey Horan knocked in a loose ball following a Thorns cross after a short corner.
Raso scored the second goal in the 53rd minute when she broke through the Pride’s backline and finished far post past Harris to make it 2-0.
The Orlando Pride’s spirit dropped. Sermanni’s description of there performance was not kind.
“In the first seven minutes of the second half our defending is embarrassing.” said Sermanni “Our lack of willingness to actually just simply defend is just so poor. And then we go in their malaise where nobody seems to be able to get the team, pick them up and get us back in the game. To be honest, for most of that second-half performance, I apologize to the crowd for coming and keep supporting us because our team on the field didn’t deserve that support in the second half. It was extremely poor.”
Though Orlando pushed to gain footage in after the Portland damage, they could not pull off the miracles that they did against Sky Blue last week. Portland is a much more skilled team than New Jersey. Orlando struggled for energy and when they managed to get it into the Portland side, the Thorns held strong.
The Pride had several good looks at goal late in the second half. In the 63rd minute, Marta drove a hard cross through the box for van Egmond, who chested it on goal and forced a diving save from Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch. Franch also tipped Marta’s hard shot from distance over the bar in the 89th.
“Unfortunate part about the game is, if you don’t produce and you don’t put chances away, this is what happens.” said team captain Ashlyn Harris “We had them by the throat probably the first 10 minutes and we just didn’t capitalize and as we let the game wear on and wear on and wear on, the momentum clearly shifts. We had one lack of concentration and it cost us the game. We just mentally crumbled.”
The Pride have three matches remaining, with two of them facing teams that are in playoff contention.
The Pride travel to North Carolina to face the courage on Saturday August 18, 7pm. The Pride next face the Chicago Stars in Orlando on August 25th.