No one with the Orlando Pride is pleased with the results of the club’s 2018 start, but it’s not like Tom Sermanni’s crew has never been through a rough start.
In fact, a 0-2-1 start is identical to how the Pride got started last season. The Pride lost two of their first three matches in their inaugural season, too.
By the end of last season, Orlando proved it could start slow and still make the playoffs. Still, that doesn’t mean Sermanni is content to sit and wait for a second-half surge. The Pride are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Portland Thorns and face the Houston Dash at 5 p.m. Sunday in Orlando City Stadium.
“I don’t think you ever get a sense of comfort when you’re not winning games,” Sermanni said. “We don’t want to start the season slowly. That’s not our intent. It’s easy for me to say we’ve had a lot of disruptions – probably more disruptions than other teams – but that would be looking for excuses.
“We need to get focused and start winning games. You can’t always guarantee that you’re suddenly going to go in the second half of the season unbeaten for eight or nine games. It’s important to us, again, to put last week’s result behind us and get focused on this week.”
Midfielder Dani Weatherholt, who has been with the Pride since she was drafted by the club in 2016, said there’s a sense of cohesion now that the club is more established even though the Pride are waiting for the return of five international players.
All five are players who will challenge for time on the field.
“I think in our first year, it was kind of jumbled, as it is,” she said. “The second year, we kind of developed an identity. Now we’re starting to form and play the way we want. I think we’re starting a little rough, but this weekend we’re looking to get a win and get things rolling.”
Weatherholt added this year’s club is further along than it was last year.
“Last year, we developed a core group of players,” she said. “I think, this year, having that core group, we already have that identity and we already have that chemistry there. Last year, we had to find that and it took us till the end of the year to find that. It took us till the end of the year to find.
“I think once we have everyone here, it’s going to click right away.”
Plus, the Pride have been close through their first three matches — sometimes excruciatingly so. Against both the Washington Spirit and the Portland Thorns, the Pride had a shot go off the crossbar.
Versatile midfielder Kristen Edmonds had a shot go off the bottom of the crossbar when the Pride were up 1-0 against the Thorns.
“They say soccer is a game of inches,” she said. “Literally, an inch lower, it would have went in and I think, you know, if we went up 2-nil, I think it would have been a little bit of a different game because the momentum would have been a little bit different.
“Those things happen and we have to be able to keep that 1-nil lead even when those unfortunate events come at us.”
Sermanni has been consistent in his message regarding the club’s missing players: He thinks the squad he has is good enough to win matches. The five international players – Marta, Poliana, Mônica, Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond – are scheduled to be back with the club by the end of the month.
“There’s always a sense of frustration when you’re not winning,” Sermanni said. “I think there are some things that we can do better individually and as a team that can help us perform better that are not necessarily major tactical things. Those are things we need to, as they say, just keep coming in and working at day-in and day-out.”