ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – The Orlando Pride returned home Saturday to battle the Seattle Reign in the absence of USWNT players Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris, who were called up to play for the national team for the Tournament of Nations. The Pride’s lineup made a slight shift in their absence, with Haley Kopmeyer as starting goalie Sydney Leroux as starting forward. Rapinoe and Allie Long were called up to the USWNT from Seattle.
In the 18th minute, Seattle attacked the Orlando goal with two close scores. The first involved a long range left cross to Seattle’s Jessica Fishlock, who attempted to head tip it into the goal, but Orlando’s Kopmeyer knocked the ball away in midair. Shortly thereafter, since Orlando couldn’t keep the ball on their side of the field, the Reign made their way back to the goal and repeated the same assist strategy, but Kopmeyer caught the ball and tossed it back.
Orlando made the game’s first goal in the 21st minute. Chioma Ubogagu ran the ball to the goal, but Seattle’s Therea Nielsen back-kicked the ball away from the goal, but Orlando’s Toni Pressley was right in the ball’s trajectory and made a shot on goal.
Seattle began their substitutions early, making two in the 27th minute: Morgan Andrews and Kristen McNabb were subbed in for Beverly Yanez and Rumi Utsugi respectively.
In the 36th minute, Seattle employed the back-kick strategy again, but to no avail. Chioma Ubogagu was running the ball back to Orlando goalie Kopmeyer when Seattle’s Jodie Taylor back kicked it to Fishlock, who made a shot, and Taylor attempted to tip it in, but Kopmeyer blocked it.
In the 38th minute Orlando’s Kopmeyer made another key save from the same threatening duo. Fishlock ran the ball to the goal and kicked while Taylor attempted to tip it in again, but Kopmeyer made the dive and catch to stop what would have been a left side goal.
In the 45th minute, Chioma Ubogagu had a close call of her own. As she ran the ball to goal, she made a shot on goal, but Seattle goalie Lydia Williams slid the ball to the left of the goal.
Orlando maintained their 1-0 lead at halftime.
In the 58th minute, Seattle’s Taylor made a daring dash for the goal and nearly had it, as Kopmeyer had come forward and was out of her way, however, Toni Pressley positioned herself in Kopmeyer’s box, using her back to block Taylor’s kick.
In the 60th minute, Orlando subbed in Camila for Toni Pressley. In the 67th minute, Orlando subbed in Emily van Egmond for Chioma Ubogagu.
Taylor’s efforts finally paid off in the 70th minute with the assist from Nahomi Kawasumi. Taylor made a quick left shot on goal and Kopmeyer tried to kick it out of the way, but missed, equalizing the score 1-1.
The Pride appeared to lose momentum for the remainder of the game, and the extra foul calls didn’t help. By games end, the Pride had 17 fouls conceded compared to Seattle’s mere three.
Pride head coach Tom Sermanni was slightly disappointed, despite getting the one point. “I thought we started okay. We had some decent passages of play, but we just didn’t seem to have the energy tonight to really threaten Seattle as much as we should have,” he said during the postgame press conference. “Really delighted that we hung in and got a point, and that keeps us right in the mix, but there’s some fundamental parts of our game that I think we need to do an awful lot better.”
The Pride next host Sky Blue FC on Sunday August 5 at 7:30pm.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org