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Orlando Pride coach, some players take break during Tournament of Nations

Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni directs his players during a training session. (Jordan Culver/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride don’t play another league match until Aug. 5.

Sure, eight of the club’s players are set to compete in the Tournament of Nations, which kicks off on Thursday, but the rest of the squad gets some time to relax.

“It’s a good time for people just to get away and get some time where they don’t have to think about football,” Pride coach Tom Sermanni said in a phone interview with Pro Soccer USA. “They don’t have to think about routine. They just get some time just to kind of chill out. Normally, they’d come back really kind of eager to get started.

“I think that kind of break up in the routine is a good thing. The proof is in the pudding when the players come back. Then, of course, for eight of our players, it’s not really a break. For them, they get three very tough, difficult games and then they’re straight into the swing. It’s a little bit of a mix.”

Relaxing can be a double-edged sword, Sermanni said, but he’s confident the Pride will be able to handle the time away.

“Sometimes, you know, you see teams after a week break or the team that’s had a week off suddenly comes in and it takes them a little bit of time to get up to speed. Fortunately, we’ve got a full week to do that before the next game. It shouldn’t have that much of an impact.

“It’s one of these unknowns. At times it’s a really good thing and players come back and they’re reenergized and they’re desperate to go. Other times, you have a break and you think everybody’s going to be ready to go and you find it takes them a few days to get back.”

Even Sermanni is taking some time away. He said he’s going to Miami to take in the Women’s International Champions Cup at Hard Rock Stadium.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to see some of the top women’s teams in the world and not have to travel too far,” he said. “I’ll have a little bit of down time, but it just gives me more time to prepare for next week.”

The club trained earlier this week, but Sermanni said there was no specific focus.

The Pride (8-6-5, 29 points) sit in fourth place in the NWSL table with five games left in the regular season. Only the top four teams in the league make the playoffs, and the North Carolina Courage have the top spot all but secured.

Only two points separate the second-place Seattle Reign and the fifth-place Chicago Red Stars. The Houston Dash (23 points) and the Utah Royals (22 points) lurk in sixth and seventh place, respectively.

“There’s not a real focus in training because we’ve got about 40 percent of our squad not around,” Sermanni said about this week. “There was really no particular focus in mind, to be honest. It was really a week where we just keep the players refreshed and then give them several days off to get reenergized for the last little bit of the season.”

The Pride’s next match is at home against Sky Blue FC. The Tournament of Nations ends Aug. 2. While the tournament goes on, the Pride will be without Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond, Marta, Poliana, Monica and Camila.

Harris and Morgan left last week for U.S. women’s national team camp and missed the Pride’s 1-1 draw with the Seattle Reign, while the club’s two Australians (van Egmond and Kennedy) and four Brazilians (Camila, Marta, Monica and Poliana) left after the match.

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