After last week, annihilating FC Kansas City in a 4-1 rout, the Orlando Pride has managed to keep pace in the race to qualify for the NWSL Playoffs. The top four end up making the playoffs in NWSL and the playoff push effectively has begun. As it stands, the Pride are in sixth place, but sit only three points behind the Portland Thorns, currently fourth in the NWSL standings.
Chicago Red Stars will host Orlando Pride at Toyota Park kicking off 3:30PM ET on Saturday. Chicago’s Forecast projects 67% humidity and a scorching 88 degrees at kickoff. The league mandates hydration breaks if the temperature reaches 82 Fahrenheit or higher, according to NWSL’s rules and regulations. Factor in the humidity and this will be a scorcher.
In the last match against the Red Stars, Orlando Pride fell short in gaining points at home, suffering 1-0 loss to Chicago at Orlando City Stadium. The Pride dominated position from the start of the match, and up front Alex Morgan pinned the Red Star’s fullbacks in their own half, not allowing wingers roam around the flanks. Marta, as her trademark number 10 role, facilitated passes in the middle of the park, created space between Chicago’s sweepers and backline. Orlando’s player makers were at the top of their game, but they struggled to put their chances away. Christen Press, arguably NWSL’s top player this season took advantage of a given penalty, scoring the goal that won Chicago the game.
One switch that benefited Orlando Pride was Camila switching back to her original fullback position last week. “I prefer the attacking positions, but I’m here to help the team, so whatever they need me to do I’ll do my best to help the team,” she stated in an interview with Orlando Sentinel. Playing in the midfield as sweeper or at right-back gives Pride HeadCoach Tom Sermanni the flexibility to switch the Pride’s formation and utilize Camila’s strengthens, in terms of pace and ability to overload the midfield.
Victory over Chicago and a loss by Portland Thorns will earn Orlando Pride a spot in the top four. The season is wining down, no better time to push towards the playoffs, a potential NWSL Championship Final in their own grounds, it starts by finishing in a playoff spot.