For the Orlando Pride, heading into Saturday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars was a must-win game to keep their playoffs hopes alive.
But in the end, it was the Red Stars who prevailed with a 3-1 victory over the Pride in front of 5,016 at Orlando City Stadium.
“To be honest, I’m a little bit embarrassed by the performance tonight,” said Orlando coach Tom Sermanni. “If I’m being frank, it’s fundamental aspects of our game that should be an automatic if you can’t go out and match effort and willingness and work rate and organization, and pick-up some of the soccer ques we should be picking up, you’re going to struggle in this league.
“It’s been a story all this season that we’re kind of a team that’s seems to be waiting about for something to happen whereas all the other teams we play roll their sleeves up and get out there and get on with it and make things happen,” added Sermanni. “It’s difficult to rectify when there’s so many players that really haven’t frankly played up to what our expectations been of them.”
The first half of the game was characterized by a dominant Red Stars team who totaled 11 shots to the Pride’s mere 3 shots. The Red Stars efforts payed off in the 44th minute when forward Samantha Kerr capitalized on a through ball from Yuki Nagasato. The goal started from a powerful pass from midfielder Vanessa Di Bernardo through the midfield to Nagasato who put a foot on the ball to redirect it into the path of Kerr.
Kerr then beat Shelina Zadorsky, the lone Pride defender in front of her, to slide the ball smoothly into the bottom-right corner of the net. Kerr continues to lead the league in goals scored with 14 while Nagasto takes the lead in assists in the league with seven.
Shortly after putting away the first goal of the game, Kerr assists Di Bernardo in successfully scoring the second goal of the night during first half stoppage time. Kerr powered through the Pride defense, taking the ball to the end line and serving a cross into the box and into the feet of Di Bernardo who rockets the ball just past the fingertips of Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.
The second half of play brought yet another Kerr goal in the 59th minute. The goal came from a succession of defensive mistakes from the Pride. A persistent Red Stars defense put pressure on Pride defender Alanna Kennedy who after winning the ball back after an initial loss near midfield gets dispossessed near goal by Kerr who shoots the ball right in between the legs of Harris to secure a three goal lead.
Morgan was able to score one goal back for the Pride in the 65th minute. The goal began with a triangle pass between Chioma Ubogagu, Dani Weatherholt and Marta who then completed a cross into the box and onto the head of Morgan.
“I think we definitely had just mental lapses throughout the game that were pivotal in the way the game went,” said Alex Morgan after the game. “It was our last game of the season here, and we wanted to end on a high note and that didn’t happen. I feel like we had great fan support, and I’m just trying to keep positive because we have only one game left and tonight wasn’t everything we can show.”
44′ Samantha Kerr (Yuki Nagasato)
45+’ Vanessa DiBernardo (Sam Kerr)
59′ Samantha Kerr
65′ Alex Morgan
Away versus Sky Blue on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 12 p.m. ET.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando Pride XI: Ashlyn Harris ©; Kristen Edmonds (Rachel Hill 54’), Ali Krieger, Shelina Zadorsky, Carson Pickett (Christine Nairn 71’); Alanna Kennedy, Dani Weatherholt, Camila (Monica 64’); Marta, Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu
Orlando Bench: Haley Kopmeyer; Toni Pressley; Emily van Egmond, Danica Evans
(Photo By Adrian J Photography)
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