The Orlando Pride’s 2018 freefall is complete.
The Pride (8-10-6, 30 points) ended their season with a thud, dropping their season finale 1-0 against previously winless Sky Blue FC (1-17-6, 9 points) on Saturday at Yurcak Field.
This Pride roster, with all of its talented international stars, ended the season winless in its final six matches and on a four-match losing streak. During the final four matches of the season, the Pride scored just one goal.
“What’s next?” coach Tom Sermanni asked in a phone interview after the match.
With a laugh, he answered himself, “I don’t know. It might not be up to me.”
Speaking seriously, he said, “It’s just having a sit-down and seeing what we need to do to get to the winning ways, I suppose. When you look, it’s kind of like, with six games to go, we’re sitting in a much better position that we were at this time last year. Things have just gone wrong from there.”
U.S. women’s national team star Carli Lloyd scored the only goal of the match, one-timing a pass from forward Shea Groom into the back of the net from just outside the top of penalty area in the 74th minute.
The Pride created chances but were repeatedly turned away by Sky Blue goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, who had six saves. Orlando finished the match with 20 shots, six of which were on target. The Pride also controlled possession (56 percent).
“If you pinpoint today’s game, we’ve done more than enough to win the game. We’ve created enough chances to win the game. We’ve been the dominant team in the game, I felt. The only danger I felt in the game was if we gave the ball away in front and they could counterattack against us,” Sermanni said.
“When they scored, it just took us out.”
The first half was scoreless but still full of action from both sides.
Striker Sydney Leroux had by far the best chance of the half. After a solid through ball from Chioma Ubogagu, Leroux had the chance to take a touch and line up a shot. Sheridan came off her line and stopped Leroux’s shot to keep the match scoreless in the 42nd minute.
Leroux had a chance to add to her team-high goal total earlier in the half. Ubogagu sent a cross into the penalty area and Leroux tried to back-heel it inside the near post but didn’t get enough power on it and Sheridan managed to save it.
Skye Blue forward Imani Dorsey had the first chance of the match in the seventh minute. She crushed a shot from distance off the crossbar.
The second half was more of the same. Sky Blue finished the match with 18 shots and forward Katie Johnson put another attempt off the woodwork in the 66th minute. Orlando created chances – Ubogagu was a bright spot in the attack – but never found the back of the net.
“There were some good, solid performances out there today,” Sermanni said. “It’s just not getting done. Generally, I thought we defended solidly. The chances they had came from half-chances, to be honest. Even the goal was a half-chance. The goal was a hit, a terrific hit from outside the box.”
The Pride go into the offseason with questions. Sermanni said he hasn’t yet spoken to the Orlando City SC front office regarding next season and if he’ll be back as the Pride’s head coach.
“We wanted to get the season finished and out the way first and then sit down,” Sermanni said. “Obviously, they need to make a decision on what they want to do. Who knows? When you’ve gone on a run like we’ve just gone on … from where we were, 75 percent of the season, we’re in a position where we’ve been right in the mix to get in the top four and in great position to get in the top four, then the final 25 percent of the season, somehow, things have just gone wrong.
“What goes on next? From a coaching perspective, we need to sit down and think, ‘OK, did we get our training methodology right? Did we get our tactics right? Did we get our selection right? Did we get our squad right?’ And then start to look and see what do we think we need for next season to be successful in this league. Those are the questions we need to answer.”