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Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni: Preparation, system not to blame for struggles

Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni wants answers for what’s ailing his club.

At the very least, he’s sure the Pride’s preparation before a match isn’t the issue. After a 2-0 home loss to the Portland Thorns, marred by a second half Sermanni called “abysmal,” the Pride’s coach said there were no excuses for his group.

“We did our normal sessions during the week,” Sermanni said. “We can’t turn around here and say we’re poorly prepared. I would love to say this happened during the week or that happened during the week, which disrupted our training. Or, we maybe trained too hard or didn’t train hard enough. But that would be just nonsense.

“We’ve got good back-up support. We’ve got staff that look into our training loads. We’ve got a masseur on hand. We’ve got a set-up where players get their breakfast before training and they get their lunch after training. I can’t turn around and say, ‘Yeah we’re struggling because of this or because of that.’

“There’s absolutely no excuse in the world.”

Before the match, Sermanni said the Pride’s remaining four games were basically “must-wins.” The Pride dropped to fourth place in the NWSL after Saturday’s game and must hope other clubs in the mix for a playoff spot lose for them to keep their tenuous grip on fourth place.

“It was a cup final tonight,” Sermanni said after Saturday’s loss. “You’ve got to turn up in the cup final. If you’ve got big players, big players need to turn up. It’s as simple as that. And everybody else needs to turn up as well. And we did, for 30 minutes. And we go into a malaise. I really, genuinely wish I knew the answer. I don’t.”

Sermanni also fielded a question about the Pride’s formation against the Thorns. For the second week in a row, the Pride came out in a 3-5-2, with typical midfielder Alanna Kennedy as a centerback.

A reporter asked if Sermanni thought it would be a better idea to trot out a four-back formation instead, or to switch a four-back formation sooner. The Pride eventually did switch once left back Carson Pickett was subbed on in the 80th minute. 

“Why would we do that?” he asked. “Because we dominated most of the first half. The system wasn’t causing us a problem in the first half. We [switched] later in the game because we’re chasing the game, but that’s because of giving up easy goals.

“I don’t think the system was to blame, because it wasn’t like we played the system and we were all over the place. For that first 30 minutes and then the rest of the first half, we looked comfortable in the system. I thought particularly Kristen Edmonds and Ali Krieger did a fantastic job against Tobin Heath and [Meghan] Klingenberg. They basically weren’t in the game for the first half.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Well the system, change this or change that.’ If we can’t organize a short corner, we can’t get proper positions in the box for a ball coming in, doesn’t matter what system you play.”

Orlando faces the first-place North Carolina Courage at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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