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Coach Tom Sermanni: Orlando Pride lack initiative

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan participates in a warm-up during a training session. (Jordan Culver-Orlando Sentinel).

Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni wasn’t shy when talking about his club’s shortcomings after a 4-3 loss to the North Carolina Courage.

The Pride battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the second half of Wednesday night’s match, but they still gave up a game-winning goal in the 90th minute.

Sermanni compared the way his team is playing this season to its unbeaten run over the end of last season and said this year’s group lacks initiative when compared to the 2017 Pride.

“I don’t know whether it’s the blend in the team,” Sermanni said. “I don’t know whether it’s because we have so many quality players that everybody’s waiting for somebody else to do something. I really don’t know.

“For the caliber of the players we have, I really think we should be doing better and creating more chances. We should also be doing the stuff that helps us create those chances, which is keeping the ball better, moving the ball quicker, supporting earlier.”

Sermanni provided an easy explanation for what successful clubs in the NWSL do.

“It’s about taking initiative, particularly in this league,” Sermanni said. “I mean, the top teams in this league are teams who can run. It’s as simple as that, as well as quality players. They run. Unless you match that, you ain’t going to be winning games or creating a lot of chances.

“We’ve got to do a wee bit better in those areas. Do it quicker, do it earlier. And then we’ve also then got to do the things that we’re capable of doing that you saw in flashes [against the Courage].”

The Pride (3-3-3, 12 points) return to action at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the Chicago Red Stars (2-2-6, 12 points) in Bridgeview, Ill. The match will be broadcast on Lifetime. Orlando defeated Chicago 2-1 on May 2. Since then, the Red Stars have come away with three consecutive draws.

Brazilian star Marta also expressed some frustration with the Pride’s lack of initiative toward the end of Wednesday’s match. She said the ball was just repeatedly kicked back to the Courage and the Pride weren’t aggressive with the match tied 3-3.

“It was an important game and we needed the points,” Marta said through a translator after the match.

Answering a separate question, Marta said, “I think we need more confidence.”

Orlando’s first match against the Red Stars was one of the club’s best performances so far this season. The Pride created two goals off interceptions and stymied the Red Stars attacking players.

Two integral players for that match – Brazilian centerback Mônica (right knee soreness) and forward Sydney Leroux (illness) – are questionable for Saturday’s game. Both players sat out Wednesday’s game against the Courage.

Plus, defensive midfielder Toni Pressley is out with a left quad strain. She also missed Wednesday’s match.

The Pride’s defense, which was stout during the club’s five-match unbeaten streak, was vulnerable without those three.

“Having that first half performance [against the Courage] was a bit disappointing,” said defender Ali Krieger, who was one of the club’s centerbacks against the Courage. “We all knew that it was probably our worst of the year.

“We had some good passages of play, but I think defensively, we got broken down too easily. It has to be better, both individually and as a team. I think that’s something that going into Saturday we’re going to have to work on. We all know what we have to do so it’s just a matter of apply it to the game.”

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