The Pride didn’t have any spare time to return home in between two road games during a four-day span. Instead, the team left Chicago after its 2-1 win over the Red Stars on Wednesday night and immediately headed to Washington D.C. to prepare for the Pride’s match against the Spirit.
The win over the Red Stars gave the Pride a boost of confidence, notching Orlando’s fourth victory of the season. For Pride coach Marc Skinner, the challenge now is to piece together consecutive positive results.
“What we have to do now is take another step against a Washington team that I think is a very good team, one of the best in the league,” Skinner said. “It’ll be a very difficult challenge, but let’s not make excuses anymore. If you want to be a champion, you’ve got to win difficult games. You’ve got to go away from home, you’ve got to win back-to-back games. We have to go into it focused.”
Star striker Alex Morgan will not be available for Saturday’s game. She remains in concussion protocol following a collision during Wednesday’s game against Chicago. In the sixth minute of her first start since returning from the World Cup, Morgan was sandwiched in the air between Red Star defenders Julie Ertz and Sarah Gorden while vying for a header. Morgan took a hard hit to the head and stayed down on the pitch for several minutes before walking off the field on her own.
Orlando’s attack will take a hit with striker Chioma Ubogagu — who finished the Chicago match with one goal and one assist — will not play in Washington due to an excused absence. Pride midfielder Alanna Kennedy earned a red card during the 89th minute of the Chicago match and is suspended for the Washington contest. Kennedy tugged down fellow Australian Sam Kerr to keep the striker from getting her foot on a dangerous through-ball and was then sent off for a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.
Striker Marta will be available for Saturday’s game after serving a two-game suspension for a red card.
Although the player absences will affect his game plan, Skinner said his team looks at it as a positive opportunity.
“It allows somebody else the chance to show what they’ve got,” Skinner said. “I don’t want any bystanders, I don’t want any passers by. If you want to be in it, show you want to be in it. Come in, make an impact against Washington and don’t make any excuses.”