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Orlando Pride searching for consistency, fan support entering home stand

Pride head coach Tom Sermanni, left, smiles before the Seattle Reign at Orlando Pride NWSL game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, April 28, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Through 13 matches so far this season, the Orlando Pride haven’t yet played – by coach Tom Sermanni’s standards – a complete match.

The Pride (6-3-4, 22 points) are in second place in the NWSL and are getting strong individual performances from various players, which is why Sermanni is having some trouble pinpointing exactly why the club isn’t at its best.

“I don’t think we are playing, consistently, over 90 minutes, at the level that we can,” Sermanni said. “I think we are in games, doing some stuff that’s really, really good. But then, we need to do some stuff better. I think if we can meld both of those we’ll be quite a formidable team.

“We’re still not quite where we want to be. Hopefully, as we continue the season, our ability to play will get better.”

Just about every player on the Pride roster has stepped up at some point for a moment of individual brilliance. Marta, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux are in solid form, even with Marta recovering from an injury. Second-year players Rachel Hill and Chioma Ubogagu have four goals apiece. Midfielders Alanna Kennedy and Christine Nairn scored goals featured on ESPN.

“Nobody’s playing poorly, but nobody’s playing, … ‘Wow’… if that make sense?” Sermanni said. “… We’re doing enough and we’re doing a lot of good things, but we’re just not being consistent enough. We’re not quite having the same kind of cohesion that we did when we got on the run last year.

“I’m confident that’s going to come. The more the players play with each other, the more comfortable they get with each other, the more we continue to get results, then hopefully that will start to improve the way we play over the 90 minutes.”

Nairn agreed with her coach.

“I think, as a club, we need to put a full 90 minutes together,” she said. “I think, at times, we really can be the best team, by far, in this league. And then, at times, we kind of struggle the most in this league. We just need to find that medium and convert on the highs and eliminate the low lows.”

The Orlando Pride return to action Wednesday against the Houston Dash (3-5-5, 14 points) in Orlando City Stadium. 

Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris said the Pride are looking for separation. The North Carolina Courage are in first place with 33 points. Under the Pride on the table are the Seattle Reign, the Portland Thorns and the Chicago Red Stars, all with 19 points.

The Utah Royals aren’t far behind with 17 points.

“We can’t drop points, otherwise it’s going to be a messy situation at the end of regular season games,” Harris said. “It is so tight. It is neck-and-neck with five teams right now, maybe even six teams. It’s going to be a matter of no matter who we’re competing against, we cannot afford to lose points.

“Especially at the end of the season, we have a lot of home games. I don’t think we’ve been as great as we’d like at home this year, which usually is not an issue.”

The Pride get to play their next three matches at home after playing eight of their first 13 games on the road. They’ve proven themselves as effective road warriors this season.

The Pride are 4-2-2 away from Orlando City Stadium this season and have picked up first-time wins in places like Providence Park, the Maryland SoccerPlex and Toyota Park.

Harris said to close out the home schedule strong, the club will need help from its fans.

“I think the challenge is going to be, now that we’re at home, we’ve got to feel the energy,” Harris said. “We’ve got to get people out there, get people really supporting us and feeling like it’s a massive home environment that’s uncomfortable for other teams.

“That last few years, you could really feel that energy. It was really uncomfortable for teams to come and play against us.”




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