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Orlando Pride close bruising opening week on road against Reign FC

The Orlando Pride's Shelina Zadorsky controls the ball during the team's 5-0 loss to the North Carolina Courage in Cary, N.C., on April 17, 2019. (Andy Mead/ISI Photos)

A brutal opening week for the Orlando Pride – at least in terms of the schedule – ends Sunday with a match against Reign FC.

The Pride (0-2-0, 0 points) are winless after facing two playoff teams to start the season. The Reign are the third consecutive playoff team the Pride will face early on and also the third team Orlando faces in seven days.

Orlando is coming off a 5-0 midweek loss to the North Carolina Courage in Cary, N.C. The Pride were pleased with their first half against the defending champs, but both the players and first-year coach Marc Skinner lamented the team’s second-half collapse.

“Our coaches do a lot of work. Our staff does a lot of work behind the scenes and we do, too,” centerback Shelina Zadorsky said. “I think it’s reviewing this and taking the good. Correcting those errors. You know what? We tactically prepare for [Reign FC], a good side as well. We’ve got to learn how to dig deep and get wins in this league and I think it will come.”

Skinner said the Pride improved from their 2-0 season-opening loss to the Portland Thorns despite the worse scoreline against the Courage.

“I’m pretty pleased, on the ball, with what the girls did,” Skinner said after Wednesday’s match. “There some really good performances off the ball. But you’ve got to have a whole group doing it or not at all. I’ve got every idea of how to fix what the ideas are, what the problems are. It just takes a little bit of time.”

Ali Krieger and Zadorsky agreed it’ll take some time for the Pride to fire on all cylinders, but both added they aren’t pleased with the results of the Pride’s first two matches of the season. So far Orlando has been outscored 7-0 during two matches.

“Yeah, there’s frustration. That’s football,” Zadorsky said after the match. “But I think it’s what we do with it. Are we productive with that frustration and turn it into action? We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, and we’ve got a game this weekend. That’s this league – three games in one week and we’ve got to get points.”

The match, Reign FC’s home opener, will be played at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. The new venue is part of an overall rebrand for Reign FC, formerly known as Seattle Reign FC. Majority owners Bill and Teresa Predmore penned an open letter to supporters ahead of the start of the 2019 season to explain the team’s move from Memorial Stadium in Seattle to Tacoma.

In the letter, the owners stated the team exhausted all available options trying to keep Reign FC in Seattle before exploring a move to Tacoma. The Seattle Sounders’ USL side, Tacoma Defiance, also plays its matches at Cheney Stadium.

The Pride are focusing on their own rebranding effort. The club was disappointed after a star-studded roster missed the playoffs last season and parted with coach Tom Sermanni, embracing a new style of play under Skinner.

Orlando players are enthusiastic about running Skinner’s system, but they have yet to deliver results on the pitch.

“I do think, moving forward, we can build off of that first half [against North Carolina],” Krieger said. “I thought we pressed really well, I thought we put them under pressure and then they couldn’t figure it out in the end.”

She added, “We need to clean up the little details in order to get points. That’s just breaking down to the very simple elements of the game, which is the set pieces, marking on crosses and set pieces and just making sure that we are switched on in those moments.”

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