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Orlando Pride set for rematch against Portland Thorns

Pride head coach Tom Sermanni, left, smiles before the Seattle Reign at Orlando Pride NWSL game at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday, April 28, 2018. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride didn’t get too much time to dwell on a sub-par performance in a scoreless draw against the Utah Royals.

An aggressive Wednesday game at altitude in Rio Tinto Stadium left both sides exhausted – and with a shared point for their troubles – and the Pride are right back on the pitch Saturday against the Portland Thorns at Providence Park.

It’ll be a challenge, considering the Pride (2-2-3, 9 points) already lost to the Thorns (2-2-3, 9 points) at Providence Park earlier this season. The match is NWSL Game of the Week, so it’ll be broadcast at 3:30 p.m. on Lifetime.

It’s a tough task, though coach Tom Sermanni said if given the choice, players would always rather be competing in matches than in training.

“Playing at altitude sort of takes that little bit more out of the players,” Sermanni said. “We’ll freshen up the squad a bit with a few changes and then go from there.

“It’s quite a significant [test]. Particularly when you look at how we’ve done over here. We’ve always kind of been competitive, but we’ve never won the games. What adds to it a little bit this time is the fact that we’ve come from altitude and then throw in they’re probably one of the most physical teams in the league.”

Plus, the Pride are trying to get healthy on short rest. Star forward Alex Morgan is listed as questionable with a left shoulder sprain she suffered in the 86th minute of Wednesday match and centerback Mônica is also questionable with a left adductor strain.

Sermanni said barring setbacks, both players should be available for selection for Saturday’s match against the Thorns.

He added the club was a bit frustrated after the match against the Royals.

“We feel we’re a better team that what we showed on the night,” Sermanni said. “That happens in sport. You think you’re ready to go and everything is in place and the plan doesn’t go as planned. I think that’s one of the positive things about having a game a few days later. You don’t really have any time to mull on that game, to overthink things. You just get ready to play this game.”

Saturday’s match is the final game in a three-game road swing for the Pride, who are unbeaten in four straight matches after opening the season with a draw and two losses.

“The team’s coped with a lot worse,” Sermanni said about the short turnaround. “It’s not something we actively get concerned about.”

He said recovery is about basic, fundamental things. The club traveled to Portland on Thursday and trained on Friday. 

“Making sure the players get refueled, get themselves rehydrated, get all those things in them,” he said. “Make sure they rest properly and get a good night’s sleep. And then we’ve also got a massage therapist with us to get their legs back in action again. [Friday] is about sort of getting them out there and getting them moving again.”

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