Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni can easily identify what went wrong with his club in a scoreless draw with the Utah Royals.
It came down to fundamentals, he said. Luckily, fundamental flaws – rather than issues of tactics or a player’s quality – can be rectified.
Despite a lively second half, the Pride settled for a 0-0 draw with the Utah Royals at Rio Tinto Stadium Wednesday night in Sandy, Utah.
“I think, tonight, we did some very basic things poorly,” Sermanni told Pro Soccer USA after the match.
“That sets you up, performance-wise. I thought we were too slow moving the ball. I thought we were reactive. We kind of worked at it like strangers, to be honest, tonight. Just those fundamental things we need to better and we need to do quicker. I think we need to do it with a little bit more aggression.”
It was the second draw between the two clubs this season. The Pride and the Royals played to a 1-1 draw in Orlando City Stadium in the season opener for both clubs.
“I’ve got one of those sort of balanced views with the game,” Sermanni said. “The sense that I’m pleased to get away with a point and clean sheet, but at the same time, I realize we’re going to have to play better if we’re going to be winning games.”
The draw means the Pride maintain extend their unbeaten run to four matches, with two wins and two draws over their last four matches. Next, the Pride travel to Providence Park for a rematch with the Portland Thorns on Saturday.
“I think what we take away – and I think the players will agree with this – is we played poorly [against Utah],” Sermanni said. “There’s just no hiding from that fact. We take away from that game is that we did that, but we still managed to come away with a clean sheet and with a point. That’s the positives.
“At the same time, it just helps us refocus – it’s probably good we have a game in a few days’ time because it helps us refocus quickly.”
Sermanni said the Pride’s poor performance came down to situational recognition and poor execution. He added he’s sure the players will be able to bounce back.
“I would be more concerned if it was stuff that was more complicated to rectify,” Sermanni said. “I don’t think it is.”
The two clubs didn’t start generating serious chances until later in the second half. Forward Rachel Hill came on for the Pride in the 69th minute and fired a shot on goal three minutes later. Seconds before Hill came on the Royals had their best chance of the match when midfielder Diana Matheson sent a cross into the penalty area for U.S. women’s national team forward Amy Rodriguez.
Rodriguez didn’t bother taking a touch, she just one-timed it hoping to break the scoreless draw. Her shot went wide and the Pride went back to work.
The Royals fired 13 shots, but only one was on target. Hill’s shot was one of two shots on goal for the Pride.
Utah also controlled 57 percent of the possession.
A mostly-uneventful first half ended with the Pride taking just one shot. Most of the first half played out in the middle third and the Pride struggled to generate any real goal-scoring opportunities.
The Pride’s one shot in the half came off the foot of forward Sydney Leroux, who fired wide.
Second-year forward Chioma Ubogagu, who has been one of the Pride’s best attackers lately, leading the club with three goals, was subbed off in the 53rd minute for Alex Morgan. The star forward was active in the Pride’s attack, but Morgan finished the match with no hots.
Morgan endured a scary moment in the 86th minute. She was brought down near the halfway line by midfielder Katrina Gorry and had to be looked at by trainers. She spent the rest of the match favoring her left arm.
“She’s got a little bit of a shoulder issue,” Sermanni said. “It’s not too severe so we’ll see how she goes tonight and we’ll assess her for the weekend.”