SANFORD, Fla. — After the first match between the Orlando Pride and Utah Royals, new Pride coach Marc Skinner had a conversation with Royals coach Laura Harvey.
The Royals defeated the Pride 1-0 at Orlando City Stadium and Harvey had some encouraging words for Skinner.
“She said she can see exactly where we were when she first started at Seattle and when she first started at Utah,” Skinner said. “And she said she can see that it will grow and grow and grow, but it just takes time.”
Skinner said he trusts in his process, but Harvey’s words were comforting. The Pride (0-5-1, 1 point) are still looking for their first win under Skinner. They take on the Royals (3-1-1, 10 points) for the second time this season at 8 p.m. Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The relationship between Harvey and Skinner goes back to Skinner’s time at Birmingham City Women when Harvey was the head coach there from 2006 until 2008. Skinner said Harvey and his partner, Laura Bassett, spent some time together while Harvey was in Orlando.
“She’s a really down-to-earth, great coach, good person,” Skinner said. “I think last time Utah came across, we had a cup of tea. Well, I didn’t, but Laura and my Laura had a cup of tea, because they’re from the same village.
“She’s done a great job since she’s been here and she’s definitely one of the strongest female coaches in the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing her, albeit that we have a 90-minute battle on our hands. After that, we’re friends. I’m sure we’ll both take something from the game.”
The friendship between the two doesn’t mean there’s a rivalry attached to Saturday’s match, Skinner said.
“I suppose you’ve got a rivalry with every manager, regardless,” Skinner said. “I want to beat anyone that we play against, and then once the game’s done with, we’re civil and we’re friends.”
Skinner isn’t the only one in Orlando with ties to Harvey. Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer – now the team’s first-choice goalkeeper with Ashlyn Harris called up for the World Cup – started her career with Reign FC (formerly Seattle Reign FC). Harvey coached there from 2013 until 2017 – the same time Kopmeyer was with the team.
“I’ve tried to convey some of that to the coaches, and Marc’s worked with her too, so he knows just as well as anybody else what a Laura Harvey-coached team looks like,” Kopmeyer said. “Knowing her and knowing the way she wants to play and the way she wants players to play … anything you have, any knowledge you have of that kind of thing, it’s only going to be helpful.
“I’m trying to pass that message and help players with that type of thing and their game management style. I’m trying to slowly sneak some helpful hints into my team as the week goes on.”
Both sides will be without a host of international stars for Saturday’s match. The Royals are missing five players and the Pride are without eight – seven of those players were starters for Orlando.
On Thursday, the Pride announced they signed three national team replacement players — defenders Alika Keene and Hana Kerner and midfielder Taylor Porter.
Keene was a trialist with the Pride during preseason training. Porter and Kerner only recently joined the club’s training sessions.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for other people to show us what they’ve got,” Skinner said.
He added, “I’m really looking forward to seeing how we perform because I do think that this team and these players have the ability to go and get results, even while we’re waiting for our World Cup players to come back.”
Orlando Pride at Utah Royals, 8 p.m.
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium
Watch: Live stream on Yahoo! Sports
The Buzz: The Orlando Pride are fresh off a bye week and are looking for their first victory of the season under coach Marc Skinner. … The Pride will be without Americans Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger and Alex Morgan; Brazilians Marta and Camila; Australians Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond; and Canadian Shelina Zadorsky, who have all left ahead of the Women’s World Cup. … Midfielder Kristen Edmonds is also working her way back from a knee injury. … Becky Sauerbrunn (U.S.), Kelley O’Hara (U.S.), Christen Press (U.S.), Desiree Scott (Canada) and Diana Matheson (Canada) are gone for the Royals. … The Pride are 1-1-2 all-time against Utah.