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Orlando Pride focused on creating chances after slow start

Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni directs his players during a Monday training session. (Jordan Culver, Orlando Sentinel)

The Orlando Pride (0-1-1, 1 point) are just two games into the 2018 NWSL season, but the lack of bite in the club’s attack is something that must be fixed.

Forward Chioma Ubogagu said the club’s been working on creating and finishing chances. So far, the Pride have just one goal through two matches, and that lone goal came from the penalty spot in the season opener thanks to Marta. She’s one of 10 players who have been out due to international duty.

During the club’s 2-0 loss to the Washington Spirit, there were some close chances, but no goals.

“You look at that game, I thought we possessed well and it was coming, it was coming … but then we didn’t make the most of our chances and then boom – we’re down 2-nil,” Ubogagu said.

“I think once you start putting the ball in the net, people start having doubts on the other team and then they start forcing things and things just start to go your way. That’s just how football works. I think once we start doing that a lot of things are going to open up and goals will come even more.”

The Pride were off during the weekend and return to action against the Portland Thorns at 6 p.m. Sunday in Portland’s home opener. The club had a scrimmage on Friday to stay match fit, Ubogagu said. 

“I thought we created a lot of chances and our forwards were getting on the ball a lot more than in the first two games,” Ubogagu said of the closed-door scrimmage. “Hopefully we can keep building off of that. We had two days off. We rested, we recovered and we’re ready to get after it this week.”

While a host of Pride players missed the club’s match against the Spirit, Ubogagu said it’s still up to the club’s forwards, including herself, to put up goals.

“Our job is to put the ball in the back of the net and none of us have really done it,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we’re getting pressure. It’s early in the season and we’re still building chemistry, but this is a great opportunity for us to start doing it.

“We’re playing Portland; that’s a great team. It’s their home opener, so it could be great to steal points away from them. I’m really looking forward to it. I think our team’s really excited to try to get the job done.”

Ubogagu spent extra time after training working with coach Tom Sermanni.

“I just want to understand what they’re looking at and what they want us to do,” she said. “I want to try to understand the game plan. When you fully get it, you can just play freely and the game will come to you.”

Player updates

The Brazilian trio of Marta, Poliana and Mônica are still in Chile for the 2018 CONMEBOL Copa América Femenina. That tournament wraps up on April 22. Brazil’s women’s national is in first place in Group B with two wins in two matches. They’ll face FSU phenom Deyna Castellanos and Venezuela on April 11.

Australians Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond, who have yet to report to the Pride this season due to their extended national team obligations, are slated to return the last week of April.

U.S. women’s national team members Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan, who scored four goals in two friendlies against Mexico, will return to the Pride this week.

Shelina Zadorsky (Canada), Nádia Gomes (Portugal) and Lotta Ökvist (Sweden) are coming back, too. 

Forward Rachel Hill continued to train off to the side on Monday. She’s dealing with a groin strain.

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