ORLANDO, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2020) - Orlando Pride (0-0-0, 0 points) is set to make its 2020 debut on Saturday, Sept. 19, traveling to face the North Carolina Courage (1-0-0, 3 points) in its Fall Series opener at WakeMed Soccer Park. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET with the match set to be nationally televised on CBS, marking the first time in Club history the Pride will feature on network television.
“Look, it has been an immense amount of time and it will be 343 days since we last played [Reign FC], it has been a really, really long time. One of the things we discussed as a group before we came back and understood that we were going to do the Fall Series, was that we would like to focus on having a good end of the year for the players,” Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “In a tumultuous year we’ve had a lot of challenges, as everybody has in the world not just in the world of soccer. So I’m really pleased to get the players back together, back on the field and the one thing that our team will do is fight and fight and fight to get better everyday. We want to end the Series on a positive and give the players something that they deserve, which is four games against two very good opponents.”
The Pride will take the field on Saturday for the first time in almost a year, their last match taking place on October 12 in their 2019 season finale against Reign FC after being forced to withdraw from the 2020 Challenge Cup due to COVID-19.
The Orlando roster comprises 19 players for the competition with a mixture of senior players and young, developing talent. FIFA World Cup Champions Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger and Sydney Leroux will be available for the series, along with six-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta. NWSL veterans Toni Pressley and Kristen Edmonds also return to the team, with Pressley slated to return to full competition after she was sidelined for a large portion of the 2019 season while undergoing breast cancer treatment.
Marisa Viggiano, a 2019 College Draft Pick, comes back to the Pride for her second season, joined by Abby Elinsky to round out the returners for the team for the competition.
Three of the Club’s 2020 NWSL College Draft selections are expected to make their NWSL debuts at the Fall Series in defenders Courtney Petersen and Konya Plummer, as well as midfielder Chelsee Washington, who recently signed a contract with the Pride along with preseason trialist goalkeeper Brittany Wilson.
With 12 players currently on loan, the Pride filled its roster by signing seven players to short-term contracts on Sept. 8 in defenders Ally Haran and Carrie Lawrence, midfielders Deneisha Blackwood, Jordyn Listro, Zandy Soree, Savannah Uveges and forward Kate Howarth. With the exception of Howarth, all have yet to appear in NWSL play.
The Pride will face off against a North Carolina side who defeated the Challenge Cup champion Houston Dash 4-3 in a seven-goal thriller this past Saturday. The Courage took the early lead with a finish from Abby Dahlkemper in the 18th minute, but were answered by back-to-back goals from the Dash in the 25th and 37th minutes, respectively. Debinha would level the two sides once more after the halftime break in the 52nd minute, but the Dash responded with a goal from Sophie Schmidt in the 70th. Lynn Williams would equalize again in the 83rd, with Debinha securing the brace three minutes later for the game-winner to send Houston home empty-handed.
Following Saturday’s match, the Pride will continue on the road, traveling to face the Dash on Saturday, Sept. 26 at BBVA Stadium.