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Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger: ‘Marc is the best coach I’ve had in my career’

Pride defender Ali Krieger, left, pushes past the Courage's Crystal Dunn to head the ball during Orlando's 5-0 loss Wednesday night. (Andy Mead/ISI Photos)

CARY, N.C. — Veteran defender Ali Krieger was frustrated with the result of Wednesday’s match, but not with her new coach. 

Ashlyn Harris, Alex Morgan, Marta – many of the Pride’s veteran international players have praised Marc Skinner’s detail-oriented and enthusiastic approach to training. After Wednesday’s 5-0 road loss to the North Carolina Courage, Krieger gave another vote of confidence to Skinner, who is in his first season with the Pride. 

“Marc is the best coach I’ve had in my career and I have that feeling that I want to win for not only us and myself and the team, but for him and the coaching staff,” Krieger said. “We are so well-prepared each and every game and each and every training. We’re learning so much and we’re trying to apply what we’re learning in training to the games.”

The Pride are off to an 0-2-0 (0 points) start. Skinner and the team’s players looked back on the first half of Wednesday’s match – except for the 45th minute, during which Orlando conceded the Courage’s first goal – as an example of the team playing better than in its season opener against the Portland Thorns, which handed the Pride a 2-0 loss.

Orlando’s second half against the Courage was a different story. The Pride gave up four second-half goals and didn’t manage a shot on target in the match. Krieger said the level of the team dropped after it conceded the first goal. The Pride were further deflated after the second and third goals, she said. 

“You can see that each game is obviously getting better,” Krieger said. “Today was much better than Portland, despite the result. We are kind of ironing out those little details that we need to, and we just have to keep that mentality and keep that belief because you can’t win without it.

“No matter what type of players you have on your team, if you don’t have the heart and belief that you’re good at what you do and that you are able to beat any team then you might as well forget it. But we show up every day because we believe we’re good enough and we believe that we can be in the top of the league. We will get there, it’s just, like [Skinner] said, a matter of time.”

Orlando travels to Tacoma to face Reign FC Sunday at 10 p.m. ET. It’ll be Orlando’s third match against a 2018 playoff team, as well as the team’s third match this week.

From his introductory press conference, Skinner has maintained the system he wants to install will take time to master. The goals for the Courage Wednesday night came from two giveaways, a shot that took a deflection and two corners.

“My message is pretty simple,” Skinner said. “When you watch it back and take emotion out of it, you find good points, bad points and you find that you’ve got to defend better in the final bits on set pieces.”

While speaking specifically about North Carolina’s strengths on set pieces, Skinner added, “That’s what they’ve got, and they’ve built it over a number of years, by the way. That’s why they are what they are. A number of years. If you’re patient, you’ll see that happen, but it needs time.” 

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