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Orlando Pride coach, players confident positive results will come after slow start

The Orlando Pride feel close to their first win of the season despite a rough start.

Emily van Egmond and other Orlando Pride players participate in a training exercise at the Seminole Soccer Complex. (Jordan Culver-Pro Soccer USA)

SANFORD, Fla. — The Orlando Pride feel close to their first win of the season despite a rough start.

The Pride are 0-3-1 (1 point) to start the 2019 season and have been shut out in three of four matches.

“You have a choice of how you react to things,” Pride coach Marc Skinner said. “The choice of this group is to actually know that they’re learning. They’re trying to get better every day. I think that, as I say, I’m a massive advocate of you choose the mood in camp. As long as you’re always focusing on what you can do to improve, you kind of pick your mood.”

Skinner said he’s confident results will come for the Pride. Orlando faces the Houston Dash on the road on at 5 p.m. on Sunday. 

“I’ve said this, and I said it in the press conference at the end: what is pressure?” Skinner said. “It’s something that we build, what, because we’re not getting results? Well we’re not getting results. You don’t get results because you don’t deserve to get results. And we don’t deserve because we’re not consistent enough in our performance.

“If we sacrifice everything just for the result, that doesn’t help your performance long time. So no, I don’t feel any pressure. At the end of it, life goes on. I want everybody to know that we want results.”

Skinner has been consistent in his message so far this season. He’s stressed patience and has maintained that while the team is a collection of talented players, it’ll take time to get everyone on board with a new system and a new way of playing.

“If you see the preparation I go into with my staff and this team to get results, you’ll understand that we don’t just turn up and go, ‘Let’s just play this system and let’s just have a go,'” Skinner said. “We’re here to win, but pressure is pressure. People put pressure, it’s a psychological thing. I’m easy knowing that I’m working towards better performances and, of course, I’d like results. I want to stress that fact.”

Players have said the Pride have yet to put together a full 90-minute performance so far this season.

“That’s a really good question,” Skinner said with a smile when asked what it’ll take to get a full performance out of the team. “I think if I knew the answer, we would have had one by now.”

He added, “All joking aside, it’s just consistency of the players. They know the messages. They know what we’re asking them to do. It’s just then taking that belief onto the field, because when they’re in training, they’re performing what they need to do. I just think it’s a transference of that skill onto the field. We’re undoing quite a lot of bad habits at the minute and I think that just takes time.”

Veteran midfielder Dani Weatherholt said the pressure will lift after that first victory and Skinner has instilled confidence in the group.  

“These could be our only three losses of the season,” Weatherholt said. “So, it’s how we want to approach going forward. I think we’re deciding to be positive and we’re looking at this week as an opportunity to grow and get better.”

Forward Rachel Hill said improvements need to made all over the pitch. Like Weatherholt and Skinner, she said the team is remaining positive — even though it’s been tough with the team’s winless start.

The Pride’s lone goal this season came thanks to Alanna Kennedy.

“Obviously, our one goal came from our centerback,” Hill said. “So, I think once one of our forwards scores, it kind of opens the floodgates sometimes and it just gets things going, so I think we’re just waiting on that one goal and then I think they’ll come.”

Training update

The Pride’s U.S. national team players are still training with the club, including goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

Harris was present for the media portion of Wednesday’s training session. This comes after Skinner said Tuesday he expected Harris to be fine after she suffered a knee injury during warm-ups before Saturday’s match against the Utah Royals. Forward Alex Morgan and right back Ali Krieger were at the Seminole Soccer Complex for training.

Defender Toni Pressley (hamstring) was training to the side on Wednesday.

Brazilian forward Marta wasn’t present for Wednesday’s training session. A club spokeswoman said Marta is in Brazil and is expected to return in time to be available for Sunday’s match. 

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