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Orlando Pride coach, players say club lacks cohesion after back-to-back losses

Orlando coach Tom Sermanni talks to players Shelina Zadorsky (right) and Monica (21) during the North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride NWSL game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride have been plagued by different issues at various times this season.

At some points, especially early in the season, the Pride couldn’t score goals. Other times, defending has been an issue.

The Pride (6-5-4, 22 points) are in third place in the nine-team NWSL, but they are 14 points behind the league-leading North Carolina Courage. Three points are all that separate teams two through six on the table. With the top spot all but secured by the Courage, the Pride are in a race for second place and the right to host a playoff match.

Pride coach Tom Sermanni said it’s not a lack of identity that has caused the club’s varying issues this season, just a lack of cohesion.

“We’re looking for chemistry,” Sermanni said. “We’re looking to get the balance of things right. It’s happened sporadically, and we need something to kick it off.

“What that something is, I can’t exactly say. It could be a variety of things, but we need something to kick that off to then start getting us on a roll, both results-wise and performance-wise.”

Orlando has given up five goals during its past two matches and 13 during their past seven. Before this stretch, the Pride gave up just two goals in an unbeaten run of five games.

Goals have come and gone for the Pride. They’ve scored just two goals over their last three matches after scoring 11 goals in their previous four, and that stretch included a 0-0 draw with the Seattle Reign.

“It’s happened in moments and we just haven’t got it all together for more than a couple of games in a row, really,” striker Sydney Leroux said. “[Last] week was a tough week – three games in seven days and, you know, we dropped a lot of point. This week we’re getting ready for Washington and hopefully we can pick up some points at home.”

Brazilian defender Poliana said cohesion can be hard to achieve because the Pride have so many quality players, which is similar to remarks Sermanni made earlier in the season.

The Pride do have several quality goal scorers. Leroux, Chioma Ubgagu and Rachell Hill all have four goals for Orlando’s NWSL side.

“I think we have great players on our team,” Poliana said through a translator. “Really high level. I think that’s actually a really hard thing for Tom to do – to actually choose the XI. Another thing, it’s hard for him to keep the XI every single game because we have so many great players that can be playing as starters.

“Because of that, it may be harder for us to play as a team in a game sometimes because we are not playing every single game together.”

Morgan misses training

Star forward Alex Morgan, who has three goals so far this season, missed Tuesday’s training session to receive treatment for an injured calf.

Morgan left the Pride’s 3-0 loss the North Carolina Courage in the 80th minute due to the injury. The Pride finished the match with 10 players after Morgan came off. At that point, the Pride were already trailing 3-0.

“It just wasn’t worth, at that stage in the game, taking the risk where she felt her calf muscle and suddenly [if] it pops and you’re out for four to six weeks, you would regret that,” Sermanni said. “Hopefully, we’ve got the injury at its early stage and we’ll see how the week progresses with her.”

Ökvist waived

Defender Lotta Ökvist on Tuesday was waived by the Pride.

Ökvist made the match-day 18 six times this season, but never played for the Pride.

“Lotta has been an outstanding professional with a terrific attitude during her time with the Pride,” Sermanni said in a statement.

“With her gametime being limited, we felt it was better for her to take an opportunity in Europe where she will see more playing time. Her personality and character will be missed around our team. We wish her the best of luck.”

Ökvist was signed three days before the start of the 2018 season.

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