Orlando, FL – The Orlando Pride (5-4-6, 21 points) managed to battle the NWSL first place Portland Thorns FC (9-3-2, 29 points) Saturday night in front of over 4,000 fans at Exploria Stadium.
It was an early strike by Jodie Taylor opened up the scoring. Taylor, always a threat in the box, scored her second goal in two matches under Interim Head Coach Becky Burleigh and managed to keep the team undefeated so far on her watch.
“I think it was a really tight match, you have to give props to Portland.” said Burleigh.”I think it’s a good thing that we’re disappointed that we ended with a tie with a first-place team.”
The Olympians who played in the bronze or gold medal games during the Olympics didn’t take part this weekend, hurting the visitors much more than the hosts. While the Pride were only missing Morgan (United States) and McLeod (Canada) due to this reason, the Thorns were without Crystal Dunn (United States), Adrianna Franch (United States), Lindsey Horan (United States), Christine Sinclair (Canada), and Becky Sauerbrunn (United States).
Other Pride Olympic participants Kylie Reid (New Zealand), Marta(Brazil), and Erin McLeod (Canada) were honored before the match.
Portland played a solid match, with solid passing and a relentless attack, as you would expect for a firs place team. The pride came through with energy and scrambling for pass interceptions and trying pushing to keep the ball moving forward to create opportunities.
The Thorns were effective in keeping Sydney Leroux in check, though she did come close to some opportunities towards the end of the match. They too have managed multiple defenders in the box when threats came.
In the 15th minute, Courtney Petersen played a long cross from the left wing, and Taylor jumped up between a pair of defenders and headed the ball into the right corner of the net.
The goal lit a fire under the Thorns as they pressed for the equalizer. In the 35th minute. Megan Klingenberg sent a curling ball into the box for Simone Charley. Fortunately for the Pride, the ball sailed a bit too high for the striker.
in the 30th minute Marissa Everett got a shot off from the top of the box. The strike slammed off the crossbar, just beyond the outstretched arm of Ashlyn Harris.
The Thorns had an even closer show six minutes later when Natalia Kuikka sent a beautiful ball into the box, which found the head of Charley at the near post. Charley redirected the ball on goal from the top of the six-yard box. However, Harris was solid, palming the ball away and allowing the Pride to clear.
In the 78th minute, Klingenberg handled a free kick toward the back post found the head of Charley, who out-jumped the Pride defenders to redirect the ball on goal. Harris stood frozen to her line as the ball made its way inside the post for the equalizer.
The point keeps the Pride in third place, while the point keeps the Thorns eight points ahead of the Carolina Courage.