After an unexpected break and a game cancellation due to Hurricane Dorian, the Orlando Pride will return to play for the first time in two weeks on the road against the Seattle Reign on Saturday.
Coach Marc Skinner said the past week has been hectic for his team, with the Pride was forced to cancel last weekend’s game against the Washington Spirit along with a week’s worth of practices due to Hurricane Dorian. With several players already away for international duty, some members of the team also left the state to avoid the hurricane when it was projected to make landfall in Florida.
To keep from falling behind, Skinner briefed his team with a game plan and players trained on their own at home. The team arrived in Seattle on Thursday to begin training together for the first time in a week.
“It’s been really tough to plan, especially some of the players having gone to safety,” Skinner said. “We’ve managed to get the game plan in front of them visually … so we shouldn’t have lost any ground and I think we’re looking forward to getting going. Sometimes that little break for the players gives you the chance to miss it and want to get back to it.”
The team will be without strikers Alex Morgan and Marta, both of whom did not make the trip due to continuing injury. Marta continues to recover from an injury incurred two weeks ago. Morgan has been removed from concussion protocol following a collision during the team’s game against the Chicago Red Stars, but she is still recovering from a knee injury incurred in the World Cup.
Additionally, Ali Krieger will not be available for the game as she remains on the East Coast with her family after her father was injured in an accident. Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will be in goal for the Pride, however, arriving in Tacoma on Thursday to train with the team ahead of Saturday’s match.
Orlando City will play without its two leading goal-scorers due to Marta’s injury and Chioma Ubogagu recent departure to play in Europe. They have combined for nine of the team’s 19 goals this season. Skinner is looking to players such as Camila and Danica Evans, who don’t often see the same level of rotation, to help spark the attack.
“It’s so difficult because people would want to see Camila and [Evans] play, but when you have players like [Morgan] and Marta, it’s difficult to get these players into the team,” Skinner said. “It’s an opportunity for them to show who they are. I want people to take opportunities and show that they can play, show that they’re good enough to be in there. If they are, they’ll keep their position.”
The two teams have faced off once before this season, battling out to a 1-1 draw after Alanna Kennedy notched an early goal in the opening 10 minutes of their match. Seattle isn’t a particularly high scoring team, notching the second-lowest number of goals this season, but the team is stingy on defense.
Heading into Saturday’s match, the Reign sit just one spot and one point out of a playoff position. Skinner expects this will bring an extra edge of intensity to the game. He hopes, in turn, his own players understand the stakes for Orlando throughout the final stretch of the season.
“They’ve got everything to play for going into these last few games, but do you know what, my players have everything to play for, too,” Skinner said of the Reign. “It’s all well and good playing for a championship, but some of these players are playing to see if they’re going to play for Orlando in the future. … Our girls will be fired up for this one.”