Despite earning a draw against the Houston Dash and defeating Sky Blue FC during back-to-back road matches, Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner’s message to his team hasn’t changed.
“The same thing I’ve said when we’ve lost,” Skinner said when asked what he told his team following the win. “I was proud of the effort that they’ve given, I was proud of the commitment. Every game, and I will continue [to say this], is to define the badge. They’ve shown every bit of characteristics we want for an Orlando team.”
Skinner said he continues to believe that as long as the correct process is followed, more positive results will follow.
“My message has always been clear,” Skinner said. “The results will come if the process is correct. This team didn’t win last year; the last seven games, we didn’t win a game. And then that continued. Our job is to continue with the success of the last game and to really take a game and show our credentials, show what the Pride is all about.”
The Pride (1-7-2, 5 points) hope to take the next step in the process when they face the Chicago Red Stars (3-2-4, 11 points) at 5 p.m. Sunday at Exploria Stadium. Skinner described the Red Stars as “tough” opposition.
“I think Chicago is a great team, there’s no doubt about it. They’re going to be a hard, tough opposition, but the last game I saw personality [from our team]. I saw a team that wanted to get on the ball under pressure situations and play out,” Skinner said.
The Pride are coming off their first win of the season, a 2-1 victory at Sky Blue FC. As for Chicago, the Red Stars have struggled without star Sam Kerr, who was with Australia during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Without Kerr, Chicago has been held scoreless in every match since May 26, getting outscored 6-0. Despite missing the past three matches due to playing in the World Cup, Kerr still leads the NWSL in goals with six.
Chicago is not rushing Kerr back to the lineup after a frustrating World Cup exit, and it’s unclear whether she’ll choose to play against Orlando. The Pride’s Australian players are still listed as out for the match.
Skinner also said he won’t rush Brazilians Marta and Camila onto the pitch, making sure they’re ready and grasp the Pride’s style of play before returning to action after their run in the World Cup.
Regardless of whether Kerr plays, Skinner hopes his team holds its identity and show fans the progress they have made.
“We’ll see a team that wants to play, a team that wants to dictate possession and play, and that’s what my teams will do,” Skinner said. “That’s my identity as a coach, so I hope that’s what we see on Sunday and that we actually take it to a quality team and show people who we are.”
The Red Stars seem to find success when playing in Orlando, posting a 3-0-1 road record against the Pride. Overall, Orlando is 2-5-1 against Chicago.
Despite the poor record against the Red Stars, the Pride hope to parlay their past two games against Houston and Sky Blue FC into even more positive play on Sunday.
“We want to put ourselves in the best position to win every game,” Orlando Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer said. “We now have two games where we don’t have a loss and we’re now getting points. For us, we absolutely want to keep that rolling and get better each week.”
The Pride’s Dani Weatherholt will miss the game due to a left foot injury while Kristen Edmonds is listed as questionable due to a left knee injury.