ORLANDO, FL. - The No. 3 Orlando Pride (11-6-7, 40 points) is one win away from playing for the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) title on its home ground, but first must face No. 2 Portland Thorns FC on Saturday afternoon in a win-or-go-home match. The Pride travel to play Thorns FC at 3:30 p.m. ET at Providence Park in the semifinal round.
The game will be broadcast on Lifetime with Jenn Hildreth, Aly Wagner, Julie Foudy and Dalen Cuff on the call. Fans can also watch online at mylifetime.com or follow on the Pride’s official Twitter, @orlpride.
The winner of Saturday’s match will move on to face the winner of Sunday’s North Carolina vs. Chicago Red Stars game in the 2017 NWSL final match, which will be played at Orlando City Stadium on Oct. 14.
“[Portland] are a very experienced team. They’re a team used to winning. They’re a team that has a terrific home record. But we’ve just have to look after our own game,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “Every game we’ve played since early in the season has been a pressure game and I don’t really see this one as much different. [We are] a team that doesn’t want to lose anything and that’s a great characteristic to have.”
Orlando finished the 2017 regular season last weekend with a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 1 North Carolina. Australian international Alanna Kennedy scored in dramatic fashion, sending the Pride into the third seed and clinching the team’s first-ever postseason berth with a free kick golazo in the 91st minute. Kristen Edmonds opened the scoring in the match, finishing off a cross from Chioma Ubogagu, while Marta added her team-leading 13th goal of the year on an assist from Alex Morgan.
The win extended Orlando’s unbeaten streak to nine straight games, the best span in the team’s short history, and marked the second straight month the Pride went undefeated.
Marta was named the NWSL Player of the Month for September, while both she and Kennedy were named to the September Team of the Month this week.
Portland has had a similar string of results, going 5-0-1 over its last six games. The Thorns closed the regular season with a 3-1 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday. Australian forwards Hayley Raso and Ashleigh Sykes put the Thorns up 2-0 in the first half, before Nadia Nadim scored from the penalty spot in the 88th minute.
Saturday’s game will be a replay of one from just two weeks ago, when the Pride and Thorns drew 0-0 at Orlando City Stadium. In a battle of Orlando’s high-scoring offense against Portland’s stingy defense, neither team was able to get on the scoreboard, with shot on goal just 2-1 in Orlando’s favor. Both of the Pride’s shots on target came from the boot of Morgan, who will face her former team this weekend.
Morgan, 28, was one of the Pride’s first three signings, acquired from Thorns FC on Oct. 26, 2015.
Orlando, which scored just 20 goals in its inaugural season, led the NWSL in total offense with 45 goals across 11 different scorers in 2017. The Thorns defense, however, was the best in the league, allowing just 20 goals to opponents over 24 matches.
The Pride earned their first point against Portland in that last meeting, but have fallen to the Thorns in both of the last two meetings at Providence Park. Defender Steph Catley scored the franchise’s first-ever goal in its inaugural match on April 17, 2016.
Orlando will be without young midfielder Camila, who suffered a torn ACL and an MCL sprain in the 32nd minute of last weekend’s match. Camila, who played for the Houston Dash in 2015, is the third on the Pride in goals (4) and second in assists (5). Rookie Rachel Hill or veteran forward Jasmyne Spencer are expect to start in her absence.
Spencer, 27, would earn her 100 NWSL appearance -regular season and playoffs - should she play on Saturday.
Tickets to the 2017 NWSL Championship are available at NWSLsoccer.com/championship or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.
About Orlando Pride:
With three major professional teams, Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) has established itself as one of the preeminent Clubs in professional soccer. The Orlando Pride, OCSC’s National Women’s Soccer League franchise, began play in 2016 – bringing professional women’s soccer to Orlando for the first time. The team is led by renowned Head Coach Tom Sermanni, former manager for the Australian and U.S. women’s national teams.
The Pride play at Orlando City Stadium, which is also home to Orlando City of Major League Soccer and Orlando City B of the United Soccer League.
For more information on the Orlando Pride, visitwww.Orlando-Pride.com or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.