ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Pride (7-7-7, 28 points) were down 3-0 early against Gotham NJ/NY FC (7-5-8, 29 points) on Saturday night and almost managed a spectacular comeback in the final seconds for a 3-2 result.
This match comes just days after instances of sexual harassment against players were eposes in the media and there is an emotional uproar around the league.
Both teams took pause to stop play and form a circle with both teams united as a statement of solidarity against what’s going on.
Gotham got the scoring off early when Gaetane Thiney blasted a shot from outside of the 18″ box that was deflected past Orlando goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris in toe net in the 6th minute of play, giving Gotham a 1-0 lead.
Gotham then proceeded to play a hight defensive press abasing the Pride, making space for passing lanes harder to find. Add to that the fact that the pride haven’t played a match since September 26th and might have ha a little bit of rust getting back into the flow, and Gotham’s strategy was very effective.
Orlando’s dangerous tandem of Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux, as well as the addition of Jodie Taylor, the formidable front was left with little chances as the Pride couldn’t get the ball past the middle. Orlando was held to 3 shot in the first half, while Gotham had 9.
Gotham opened the second half with yet another goal by Thiney, when she delivered a second blast past Harris do double the score. Margaret Purce managed to really crush Orlando fan’s hopes in the 50th minute with a third Gotham goal, which seemed to seal the win.
Orlando has always been a team with heart, and tonight was no different.
After moving their press forward, Becky Burligh’s adjustment seemed to slow down the Gotham rush and give Orlando a little more room to operate. After the half, the Pride’s total shots increased to 18 for the second half, with 7 on target, while Gotham slowed down a bit, from 9 shots to 7, and 3 on target.
Gotham Goalkeeper Keilen Sheridan held court, as the pride kept her busy with catching Orlando shots.
Substitute Erika Tymrak opened the scoring for Orlando, after talking a picked off ball and sending it in, blasting the ball through Sheridan’s gloves for their first goal of the night.
The always solid legend Marta scored the Prides second goal on a penalty kick after Estelle Johnson committed a foul in the box after a Meggie Dougherty Howard corner kick.
Marta kicked a solid shot to the left side asSheridan dove to the right in the 89th minute to make it a 3-2 game.
Orlando delivered shot after shot in the final minutes buy Leroux and Morgan, Marta, and even Ashlyn Harris in the final seconds, but they could not overcome the deficit created in the first half.
The players expressed how hard it was to play after the allegations revealed in recent days, exposing reported harassment going un investigated and unpunished, Both Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger expressed the heaviness of having such horrific instances are being battled out in the women’s sports world, while having to take the pitch in the world that Krieger said was a place where they are used to getting their minds away from the outside world.
The game kind of pales as insignificant when considered against the problems existing in most facets of women’s working environments and occupations on many levels.
Krieger said that they are focused on finishing the few games left in this NWSL season, and pushing for change during and after the upcoming matches.