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Orlando Pride hold on for 4-3 win over Washington Spirit

Pride coach Marc Skinner opts to watch game from suite, relay tactical direction from unique vantage point

Orlando Pride star Marta, left, celebrates with Emily van Egmond after the Pride scored during a 4-3 win over the Washington Spirit Saturday at Exploria Stadium. Credit: ISI Photo

ORLANDO, Fla. – Marc Skinner took a unique approach to managing the Orlando Pride’s match against the Washington Spirit Saturday.

The first-year coach was not on the sideline, instead opting to sit upstairs and watch the game from a suite as he delivered messages throughout the entire 90 minutes to his assistants Carl Green and Lloyd Yaxley.

A unique but strategic move he first tried as a manager of Birmingham City WFC. It paid off, with the Orlando Pride attack lifting the team to a 4-3 win over the Washington Spirit Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 3,703 at Exploria Stadium.

“Something I did at Birmingham,” Skinner said following the win. “On the side of the pitch, you manage emotion. You manage the instant effect of the player nearest to you. Most players cannot hear you, especially when our wall is booming. So, for me, and in my brain, I need to see the game tactically and my job is to make decisions not just waste emotions.

“So, I sat upstairs, and I sat at the best vantage point – the best viewpoint – so I can tactically see what Washington were doing.”

The Spirit (5-3-3, 18 points) got on the scoreboard first thanks to Bayley Feist’s seventh minute backheel flick from close range.

Ubogagu tied the game 1-1 in the 21st minute when she rounded past goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.

Hill gave the Pride the lead in the 26th minute after striking the ball toward the upper-right corner post.

Saturday’s result was Orlando’s first win at home this season, but Skinner was quite critical of how often the Spirit scored.

“You can’t keep conceding three goals and scoring four at home,” said Skinner. “I know American sports love the drama, and it’s all well and good, but we can’t concede three goals at home and then win every game.”

Cheyna Matthews, who finished the game with a goal and an assist, leveled the score in the 30th minute after beating Shelina Zadorsky on a run to send the ball past Pride keeper Hayley Kopmeyer.

Orlando (2-8-2, eight points) took the lead again in the 48th minute when Marta scored from close range. She added another goal in the 78th minute to the Pride a 4-2 lead.

Jordan Di Biasi added a consolation goal for Washington in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

“I think we played better today, but I still think we need to get better,” Marta said through a translator. “We [allowed] … goals that didn’t have to be scored.”

She added that the team needs to be sharper in one-on-one situations and push to improve.

Saturday’s game saw Canadian Shelina Zadorsky and Australians Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond return to the Pride lineup following their participation in the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Scottish forward Claire Emslie, who signed with the Pride in May, is expected to report to training camp soon, a club spokeswoman said.

The Pride travel to Providence Park to take on the Portland Thorns on July 14 at 3 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on ESPNews.

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