Through two NWSL Challenge Cup games, the Orlando Pride have featured a staunch defense under new Head Coach Amanda Cromwell, conceding just once total against two high-powered offenses in the Washington Spirit and the North Carolina Courage. A third big attack looms this Wednesday in NJ/NY Gotham FC, who visit Exploria Stadium for a 7 p.m. ET tilt.
However, as good as the backline has been, the Pride have yet to score a goal under Cromwell, with the team featuring several new faces that continue to adjust to each other and the new coaching staff. After a hard-fought 1-0 defeat in Cary last weekend, Cromwell is looking for more from her attack.
“We’ve just got to be better on the ball,” Cromwell told reporters this week. “We’re trying to help them with breaking the lines, building out of the back, and just being a little more composed in possession. Knocking a few [goals] in would be helpful.”
Gotham have been open for business on that end, shipping three goals over their first two games, and the Pride will have the Exploria Stadium faithful behind them. Cromwell is focused on the team’s decision-making and patience with the ball.
“When we get into the attacking third, what are the opportunities looking like? Can we probe a little bit, be a little more patient? Sometimes we’re playing balls over the top [when] we have an underneath option,” she said. “The possession play should be paramount there instead of going for a 50/50 ball. It’s those decisions that we’ll get better [at] and we’ll have more opportunities.”
This week represents the first double-game week for the Pride under Cromwell, with the team heading up to D.C. to face the Spirit on Sunday. The team returned to Orlando early Sunday and has keyed in on recovery and tactical training, with the coaching staff choosing to keep the players fully focused on the task at hand rather than dwelling on a loss.
“We’re excited for another game, because we knew the result wasn’t what we wanted up in North Carolina,” Cromwell said. “There were a lot of positives that we saw on video. I think subjectively we were all a little bit down about it because we expect more from our team.”
The nice thing about a short week? You get a chance to turn those expectations into reality right away.
“We’re still getting used to each other, and we’re still figuring out the little things,” said Pride forward Sydney Leroux. “Once those things come together, we’re gonna be in a really good spot.”