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Orlando Pride looking for elusive win against Sky Blue FC

Saturday’s game pits the two bottom teams in the NWSL

The Orlando Pride opened preseason training with new coach Marc Skinner on Monday at the Seminole Soccer Complex. (Jordan Culver-Pro Soccer USA)

Orlando Pride coach Marc Skinner is still looking for his first win as an NWSL head coach.

If last week’s 2-2 draw against Houston Dash is any indication, both Skinner and the Pride are close to breaking down that barrier.

Orlando (0-7-2, 2 points) will be looking to snap its 15-game winless streak as the Pride face Sky Blue FC at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Yurcak Field in New Jersey.

Earning a win and all three points has proven to be elusive for the Pride through nine games. Skinner has been without the likes of stars Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris and Marta, who are away on international duty at the Women’s World Cup.

It’s been a tough stretch to begin the season as Skinner has tried to implement his tactics and playing philosophy without his best players. 

However, there were signs last week against Houston the Pride were turning a corner. In the first half, Orlando controlled possession, reduced counter attacks, scored the opening goal and went into the break leading 1-0.

Skinner said it was arguably the best period of soccer the team has played.

The second half was different. Houston scored twice before Danica Evans scored an equalizing goal with 20 minutes remaining. Lapses in the second half hurt Orlando, and Houston pounced. 

Skinner wants to see his team build on its early success against the Dash.

“I think we’re finally building to what we’re trying to perform whole for 90 minutes as a team,” forward Chioma Ubogagu said. “Obviously, want to try and get three points as we haven’t gotten that yet. It’s been a tough beginning of the season, but I think that was a promising performance from everyone.”

Sky Blue (0-6-2, 2 points) has also been hampered by a slow start. Skinner expects Sky Blue to play a 4-4-2 formation and look to hit Orlando on the counter.

Neither team has any new players on their weekly injury report, with both sides depleted due to the World Cup.

Regardless of the lineups, the Pride are focused on trying to deliver sharp, focused play for 90 minutes if they want to snap their winless streak.

“I’ve got quality issues that we need to fix,” Skinner said. “We just need to focus. It’s concentration, it’s discipline, these are things you can control as a player. It’s all about mental control, physical control. If we can get that into the girls, then they’ll successful, regardless of who they play against.”

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