NWSL Challenge Cup Group Stage: Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage
When: Wednesday, April 19, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
As the Orlando Pride prepare for their first UKG Challenge Cup match of the season, here are five storylines to watch for Wednesday's matchup against North Carolina:
1. Feelin' Green
Wednesday’s match will mark the Club’s annual sustainability game, presented by OUC. Along with Orlando City SC, the Pride will celebrate the Club’s commitment to Exploria Stadium’s Zero Waste Initiative in the week leading up to Earth Day. The venue now features an onsite recycling system, which has helped the Club divert 5.08 tons of cardboard, .60 tons of aluminum, 1.67 tons of plastic, and 1.37 tons of food waste since January. Additionally, the Club’s food and beverage partners at Oak View Group (OVG) and Exploria Stadium, recently received the prestigious Recycling Champion Award from the Florida Recycling Partnership Foundation. In addition to their recycling efforts in 2022, OVG diverted 3,200 lbs. of prepared food to local feeding organizations.
2. Loyalty Runs Purple
Marta started in the last match against NJ/NY Gotham FC marking her 75th NWSL regular season appearance, all of which have come while donning the Pride kit. Marta first joined the Club back in April of 2017 signing a two-year contract with the option for a third. During the offseason, the Pride and Marta agreed to a two-year deal, signing the player through the 2024 season. Since joining the Club, the Brazilian international has recorded a Club-leading 27 goals, seven of which served as game-winners, to go along with 14 assists.
3. Seasonal Debutants
The match against Gotham saw a number of Pride players make their first appearance of the 2023 NWSL regular season. Goalkeeper Kaylie Collins got the start in between the sticks for the Pride earning her first appearance having previously appeared for the Pride during the 2022 Challenge Cup, also against Gotham. Midfielder Viviana Villacorta and defender Megan Montefusco also both made their first appearance of the year coming into the match as second-half substitutions. It was Villacorta’s first appearance since suffering a season-ending injury last year on Aug. 26.
4. Show Me the Money
The match against the North Carolina Courage will serve as the opening match of the 2023 UKG NWSL Challenge Cup for both sides. This is the first time the Challenge Cup is running parallel to the regular season as opposed to the season’s past in which it was held before the start of the regular season. It was also announced a few days ago that UKG will be providing a $1 million prize pool for the tournament.
5. Pride vs. Courage
The two sides also squared off against one another last year’s Challenge Cup in build up to the 2022 regular season. The Courage won the first game 1-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park with the lone goal coming from the penalty spot. In the return fixture at Exploria Stadium, the Courage came away with the victory in a 4-2 thriller. The sides would then go on and split the regular season series with the away team coming out with the win in both matches.
- Erika Tymrak is six appearances away from 175 across all NWSL competitions, and seven from 50 with the Pride.
- Haley McCutcheon is 10 appearances away from 100 in the regular season across her NWSL career.