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Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan: We’re looking ourselves in the mirror

Seattle player Kristen McNabb (19) stops a goal attempt by Orlando player Alex Morgan (13) during the Seattle Reign at Orlando Pride NWSL game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan knows the Pride have enough talent to make the NWSL playoffs.

Orlando is loaded with top-tier players, including Morgan. The team is in third place with four matches remaining, but it has been inconsistent, at best. Morgan and the rest of the Pride are still looking for answers with the season winding down and critical matches coming up.

The Pride (8-6-6, 30 points) barely eked out a 2-2 draw with winless Sky Blue during the weekend, prompting team meetings this week ahead of a home matchup with the fourth-place Portland Thorns (8-6-5, 29 points).

Morgan said some of the team meetings have been players only, but there also have been meetings with the coaching staff and a motivational speaker.

“I think we start games pretty well, but then I think, obviously, there’s just a little lull that kind of begins in the 15th , 20th minute,” she said. “I feel like it’s just a little bit of unorganized chaos. I just doesn’t seem like we’re really playing together.

“I think we’ve had quite a few meetings over the past couple days to just see what each individual player could do to kind of raise their level and just support each other on the field. We have the players to make it to playoffs, to make it all the way, and we’re just not showing that right now. It’s important for us to kind of turn it around and make sure that we don’t take these next four weeks for granted.”

Two points separate third through sixth place on the NWSL table and only the top four teams in the league make the playoffs.

“We were just talking about that,” Morgan said. “How it would be so nice to be able to kind of take a week easy and take it off and just relax and kind of let some of the players who’ve had a lot of minutes rest their legs. But every single game is so important in this league.

“These last couple games are just so crucial for us because the race is so tight for the playoffs.”

Morgan is coming off a stellar 2018 Tournament of Nations, during which she led the United States to a tournament title with four goals in three matches. She has four goals and two assists in 15 games (13 starts) for the Pride.

Morgan said Orlando is looking into being a bit more direct and attacking in transition, instead of being “predictable” by possessing the ball. Coach Tom Sermanni deployed a 3-5-2 formation against Sky Blue FC and Morgan said the shape helps get more crosses into the penalty area.

“I absolutely believe that everyone thinks this is a team capable of winning the league,” Morgan said.

“Obviously, we’re just taking it one step at a time. I think there’s been a definite lull in our play the last couple of games, but we can turn that around. Obviously, we’re all doing everything [we can] individually. We’re looking ourselves in the mirror and seeing everything we possibly can do to support each other and make sure we’re bring out the best in each other on the field.”




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