The Orlando Pride (8-10-6, 30 points) ended their season with a 1-0 loss to previously winless Sky Blue FC on Saturday at Yurcak Field. Here are three takeaways from the match:
Not good enough down the stretch
The Orlando Pride went unbeaten during their final nine matches of the 2017 season. That run included a five-match winning streak and a win over the North Carolina Courage to end the season. The run allowed the Pride to end the year 11-6-7 (40 points), which was good enough to secure a third-place finish.
This season, the Pride went into their final nine matches in third place. They finished in seventh place after dropping four consecutive matches and going winless during their final six matches.
Coach Tom Sermanni struggled to find the answers all season. Players said there were issues regarding cohesion on the field. A few have lamented the changing lineups. Sermanni was critical of the performances, at times.
After Saturday’s loss, Sermanni said some of his players gave solid performances, but things just weren’t good enough.
“It’s just one of those seasons where we’ve had a lot of players who have played OK,” Sermanni said. “We haven’t had a lot of players that have played better than OK. If you go through [Saturday’s] team, there weren’t a lot of players, I felt, who played very poorly. I think, in general, we defended pretty well. We dictated the midfield. We created chances up top.
“I think the key thing is that we’ve had a lot of OK performances. But when it’s counted, we haven’t had the critical outcomes that we’ve needed.”
Story of the season
The Pride have, at times, looked dominant this season. The team’s biggest issue came up when that dominance wasn’t rewarded with goals. The Pride crumbled after dominant stretches didn’t end with a score.
Opposing sides took advantage of opportunities all season against the Pride. Every lapse in judgment was punished. The Pride’s inability to finish chances, or in some cases, their inability to create chances despite the presence of star players, constantly cost Orlando this season.
The Pride didn’t put away chances down the stretch. Opponents did.
“If you try to look at today’s game overall, it was a game that we should have won,” Sermanni said. “We had more than enough possession, we had more than enough chances. I think we were the dominant team for the majority of the game, but we’re just in one of those phases at the moment where either we’re not scoring or… the opposition gets a chance and they score.
“It’s hard to put your finger on what’s gone wrong. We just can’t seem to finish games when we’re on top and we seem to give up goals basically … often when there’s not an awful lot of danger.”
Questions for 2019
After ending the 2018 season on a bad run, there are questions surrounding the Pride. Sermanni doesn’t have the answers, and after Saturday’s match said the future of the Pride might not be up to him.
Last week, he said he wasn’t sure if a coach can bounce back after a season like what the Pride just went through.
But there are still a host of questions surrounding the Pride. Sermanni detailed most of them himself after Saturday’s match.
“Did we get our training methodology right?” Sermanni asked. “Did we get our tactics right? Did we get our selection right? Did we get our squad right?’ And then start to look and see what do we think we need for next season to be successful in this league. Those are the questions we need to answer.”
Sermanni added pieces are still in place for the Pride to be a good team. It’ll be a question of fitting those pieces together next season.