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Orlando Pride plan to keep rotating lineup amid playoff push

Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni, left, says he plans to keep shaking up his lineup amid a playoff push. (Stephen Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride controlled their match against the Utah Royals Saturday night, earning a 2-1 victory.

Despite the dominant performance, fans likely won’t see the exact same lineup on the pitch again when Orlando hosts the Seattle Reign Saturday.

Marta is sure to get back into the lineup after serving a red-card suspension against Utah.

And other regular starters will get a chance to earn spots back in the lineup.

“It’s going to be fluid and people have to adapt,” coach Tom Sermanni said. “We did a little bit of a formation shift and wanted to refresh the team during a long road trip. We put in five new starters to give us the best look we could possibly put together and get a good shape. We get people in who haven’t started in a little while who were fresh.

“We’re fortunate we have depth and we’re going to keep rotating players to give us the best chance to win.”

The Pride (8-6-4, 28 points) are in third place in the NWSL standings and pushing to bump the Reign (8-4-5, 29 points) out of second place, securing home-field advantage during the first round of the playoffs.

Krieger’s mark

Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger was in the starting lineup during the team’s win at Utah, appearing in her 100th career National Women’s Soccer League match.

Krieger recently pushed back from an injury, but otherwise has been a fixture in the Pride’s lineup the past two seasons.

“She just continues to get better,” Sermanni said of Krieger. “What you saw was a typically professional, mature player in the back. Basically, I can’t remember her making a mistake.”

Royals frustrated

Royals coach Laura Harvey lashed out at NWSL referees following the match.

Late in the first half, the Pride earned a corner kick. Alanna Kennedy was taken down in the box while going up for a header and the referee called a foul. The Pride were awarded a penalty kick that Alex Morgan converted in the 47th minute to tie the game 1-1.

“It is hard to sit here every week and watch a performance like that from a referee and not acknowledge it,” Harvey said during her postgame news conference. “Like, this is my job. I could get fired over that result. But what is going to happen to her? It is every week, stuff like that happens every week.”

When Harvey was asked if she got an explanation for the foul call that led to Morgan’s goal, Harvey replied, “You’re joking, aren’t ya? No.”

Harvey also questioned the decision to hit Kennedy with a yellow card after the Royals’ starting goalkeeper was injured during a collision.

“It is just hard work to sit here and not say anything about [the referee],” she said. “And I will probably get fined and suspended and all that. But what’s happening to the ref? That’s my question. What’s happening? Fine me, but just provide the refs with a better performance. … Let the fourth official actually be OK to speak [to coaches].”

While Harvey isn’t alone among NWSL coaches questioning officiating this season, veteran women’s soccer executive and coach Anthony DiCicco posted on Twitter after the match in the defense of the call that led to Morgan’s penalty kick.

“I want them to be better too,” DiCicco tweeted in response to Harvey telling ESPNews postgame she wanted the officials to be better. “Hence my tweet about how happy I am that they got that [penalty kick] call correct. Them being better won’t always align with you getting the calls you want. That was a penalty.”

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