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Orlando Pride focused on improvement after preseason loss to North Carolina Courage

Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner is confident the team can learn a lot from a frustrating 4-0 preseason road loss to the North Carolina Courage. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/ Orlando Sentinel)

SANFORD, Fla. — Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner was eager to analyze every detail of a 4-0 preseason loss to the North Carolina Courage.

Once the emotions of the loss went away – Skinner said he “hated” the result – he had a lot to break down during Wednesday’s film session before training.

Skinner said he went over the goals the team conceded and some of the positive aspects of the team’s play at WakeMed Soccer Park.

“For me, I’m infinite on detail,” Skinner said. “So, it’s body position, supporting angles, how we can play, the trigger of the press, the speed of the press, the body position when you’re pressing, where you’re locked in to on the field. I think it’s just reiterating all of those. We had a positive clip where we played through [North Carolina], we discouraged their press and we ended up 2-v-2, from playing out from the back.

“And then, we had the goals, because I wasn’t happy with the way we conceded the goals. And not, not happy with the girls, I just wasn’t happy with the nature that we conceded the goals and they knew that.”

Skinner said after Wednesday’s film session, the team’s players were ready to face the Courage again. Forward Chioma Ubogagu agreed with her coach and said the adjustments the team can make over the next three weeks of preseason training are well within their control.

“Obviously, it’s 4-nil,” Ubogagu said. “So, I’m not going to disrespect North Carolina. They beat us, right? We deserved to lose the game because of those mistakes. But, at the same time, I’m really excited to play them again and I think everyone else is. I think those are things we can easily avoid and easily fix and when an opportunity comes to do so, I don’t think those types of goals are going to happen on us again.”

Skinner, who is in his first season as the Pride’s head coach, said more friendlies are planned for preseason training, though he didn’t name specific opponents. The Pride have yet to announce a full list of preseason friendlies for the team, though Skinner said there are matches planned against a college team and a club team “not in the NWSL.” He added he’s planned some mid-week games.

“I think that we have to get used to the consistency of being with the ball,” he said. “And, also, how we can manipulate the opposition. Look, we took a great challenge, the best challenge in the league, in Week 2, 3 of what we’re trying to do. I think we need to assess the opposition that we play. I think we need to get some more fixtures in, as well, because I think they’re the best ways of seeing where your team [is] at.

“I think we have to grow into our style. We haven’t really – and this is not a knock at anybody – we didn’t really have a style. So, to give somebody a style over a short period of time, or a team a style over a short period of time, takes a little bit of time.”

The preseason friendlies are meant to prepare the squad for what Skinner called a “three-season season.”

“We’ve got the first part before the players go away to the World Cup,” he said. “Then we’ve got the World Cup duration. And then we’ve got the players when they return. So phasing people in and out of that is going to take a bit of time. So, we need to get some more fixtures in to see what the teams might look like when people go away for the World Cup and so on.”

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