Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni knew his side was going to be short-handed entering its weekend match against the Seattle Reign.
He called on all his players to collectively provide leadership prior to the game and was pleased to see the Pride earn a a scoreless draw against the Reign Sunday night in front of an announced crowd of 5,251 at UW Medicine Pitch at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m delighted with the draw,” Sermanni told Pro Soccer USA after the game. “This again, is one of the toughest places to come to. Seattle are very good at playing in this field. I thought they had the better of the first half – we were a bit under pressure – but in general, we defended well and didn’t give much away. Then I thought we came into the game in the second half strongly, [where] we had the best two chances in the game.
“Overall, I think a draw was a fair result and given our circumstances, having to come to the West Coast, play here, I’m delighted with the performance and the point.”
The Pride entered the match missing a slew of key players, with forward Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris out training with the U.S. women’s national team.
Brazilian star Marta (left calf strain) and Rachel Hill (groin) also did not travel with the team due to injuries.
Centerback Mônica, who was questionable ahead of the game, started and played the full 90 minutes. Toni Pressley, who was recovering from a left quad strain, made the final game day roster for Orlando.
But it was a collective effort, Sermanni said, that cemented an above-par performance.
The Pride (4-3-4, 16 points) almost scored in the 22nd minute when a ball sent in by Carson Pickett was headed off the crossbar by Alanna Kennedy. Sydney Leroux headed the rebound wide of the post.
Leroux had another scoring chance when she hit a volley over the crossbar in the 55th minute.
Emily van Egmond almost gave Orlando the lead in the 74th when her shot from inside the box was stopped by Lydia Williams.
In the 78th minute, a counter-attack from Seattle (5-3-3, 18 points) saw Jodie Taylor make a run toward goal before getting stopped by Carson Pickett. In the ensuing sequence, Christen Westphal won the clearance, but Leroux, who made a run back to defend, stopped a cross.
“In general, we’ve been terrific in doing that and that’s exactly what we talk about,” Sermanni said on the team’s collective defensive effort. “In reality, in practice, that shows the determination of the team to make sure to not give anything away and to stay in games. That was a prime example, particularly in the second half tonight, we did it exceptionally well.”
Haley Kopmeyer, who was acquired from Seattle during the offseason, made her first start for Orlando on Sunday. The former Reign goalkeeper finished with five saves for the Pride, including a diving save in the 51st minute to deny a long-range shot from Nahomi Kawasumi
“I thought she was outstanding,” Sermanni said. “It’s a difficult place to come to, difficult field to play on. It’s her first start in the season, so obviously in a very difficult game when our team is a bit [shorthanded]. She was flawless in her performance… she was calm. She made good decisions.”
Orlando extends its unbeaten streak to five games – a club record.
Orlando has a bye before hosting winless Sky Blue FC at 7:30 p.m. June 16 at Orlando City Stadium.
Despite not pulling off a win in Seattle, Sermanni said his team is becoming more consistent after a rough start to the season.
“We’re starting to see the consistency coming into our team that we had last year,” Sermanni said. “I always felt, and I’ve said it several times, we always felt until May or June until we got all our team together and got things in place. Preseason we very disruptive, a lot of players were on international duties, so we kind were all over the place a little bit. We’re beginning to see players more comfortable with each other, players have been able to read each other’s games and with that, we’re becoming a better overall team. What we need to do is keep building on that.”