ORLANDO, Fla. – For the Orlando Pride, Saturday night’s 2-1 victory over the Washington Spirit wasn’t necessarily a must-win game, but a match the Pride couldn’t afford to lose.
Trailing early, goals from Sydney Leroux and Marta sealed a comeback win for Orlando. Coach Tom Sermanni credited a unique determination from his players this season for the win.
“I felt there was an energy about the team tonight,” Sermanni said. “Sometimes you’re in the dressing room and you’re never quite sure where your team is at. Sometimes you’re in the dressing room and you feel your team is flat. And sometimes you’re in the dressing room and you feel there’s an energy there.
“I felt tonight there was a real energy about the players and a determination. We went out and showed that in the game. As I say, if you don’t score chances, in this league, in some stage the opposition is going to create a chance and they did that. The key thing for us was how we responded to it so to come back from being behind and winning the game is a real confidence boost for us.”
Marta, who scored the game-winner for Orlando on Saturday, recorded her first goal since April 28 during a 1-1 draw against the Seattle Reign at Orlando City Stadium.
It was the Brazilian’s third goal of the season for the Pride, but Marta said getting the three points for her team was more important than snapping her scoring drought.
“It’s great to score. It’s an awesome feeling, but I believe it’s better to win,” Marta said through a translator. “For example, if in 10 games I don’t score and we get 10 wins, I’m fine with it. We just need to get the points and then we can be in the top four and reach the playoffs.”
The Pride’s pursuit of a second consecutive playoff berth continues during a two-game road that sees Orlando take on the Houston Dash on Wednesday at BBVA Compass Stadium at 8:30 p.m. before playing the Utah Royals at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m.
The win over Washington gives the Pride confidence going into the busy week.
“It gives us the confidence to go into it where it keeps us up the league table,” said Sermanni, whose team is in third place. “When you look at the league table and you’re looking at a favorable position, you look at going into the Houston game where if we can get another win there, it gives us separation from them again.”
After missing almost nine months of action because of a knee injury, midfielder Camila made her first appearance of the season for Orlando on Saturday.
Camila, who suffered an ACL tear and MCL sprain in her right knee, entered in the 65th minute for Emily van Egmond and shortly after the game spoke about seeing action for the first time this season.
“I’m happy, of course. I’m very happy I got the minutes I did today,” said Camila through a translator. “I was pretty anxious, coming back from injury from all those months without playing, and I came on in a tough game. It was 1-1 and it was pretty tough because of the anxiety and how the game was. I got more tired than I’m used to … because all the months I’ve been out. But I was happy I got in and helped my team to achieve this win and be in a better position for the next games.”
Sermanni said the plan on Saturday was for Camila to see some action at some point to develop confidence and match fitness
“We had always intended to bring her into the game tonight, regardless of how the game was going or regardless of the score because we need to get her back on the field, for both the team but to keep her spirits high and to keep her confident,” Sermanni said. “We always had it penciled in at 60 minutes she was coming on. Great for us, a boost for her. Really good in the sense that now we feel confident that she’s come through it well and is ready for selection.”