Seeking first win, Orlando Pride return to league play eyeing bounce-back effort away at KC Current

SANFORD, Fla. -- Just four days removed from their UKG Challenge Cup match against the North Carolina Courage, the Orlando Pride will be back to league action on Sunday. This time, they'll take to the road to face a Kansas City Current side that is looking for their first league win of the season.

"They're going through [a coaching] change. They're all also looking to win a game of football like ourselves, so it should be a really good, interesting game," Pride head coach Seb Hines said Friday at Orlando Health Training Ground at Sylvan Park. "It's nice to go away from home, different environment. Obviously they're building something there in terms of their fans and stadium up-and-coming but, we have to focus on ourselves.

"We want to bounce back from the last couple of results and again reinforce our message of being difficult to beat and being threatening and in the attack."

Part of that threat in attack are the two players that linked up for the Pride's goal on Wednesday: Ally Watt and Summer Yates.

Watt joined the team last year after being traded to Orlando from OL Reign, while Yates was drafted 39th overall in this year's NWSL Draft. Despite the gap in experience, the two have developed a chemistry both on and off the field that is starting to pay dividends on the scoresheet, with Yates assisting on Watt's 56th-minute goal.

"Me and Ally have established a good relationship off the field and playing together every single day," Yates said after Wednesday's game, "So I know she's gonna make that run ball and behind and I love that slip ball to her. So, Ally's so fast it makes my job easy. Just finding the gaps. We've studied that a lot and we did a lot it in training."

The two attackers combined in their preseason game against the Kansas City Current, a game they won 2-0 back on February 28. They'll hope to find that same link-up play this weekend as well facing the same opponent.

"Each training session we get to know each other more on and off the field," Watt said, "I think that's what we've kind of been needing to just grow more. We're a very new team. It feels like we're inexperienced and you have young players, but I think each day as we keep growing and developing relationships then we're going to start clicking more, and then I think results will be coming more often, but it's great to have that chemistry with Summer."

During that midweek Challenge Cup match, a number of new faces got opportunities to play and start, with rookie Tori Hansen getting the nod at centerback, while Carly Nelson started in between the sticks in goal.

With those opportunities continuing and players showing the Pride coaching staff that they have earned playing time, it makes Seb Hines' job a bit harder to pick a team each week. If you ask him about it, however, that's exactly what he's asking of his players.

"Everyone has to play a part," he said, "We said that at the start of the year, that we're going to have to rely on everyone. Challenge Cup, midweek, it gives players opportunities to play and perform and rotate, to rest players but, again, stay at a high level.

I think we still stayed at a high level. We had a couple of injuries, but we put everything out there. We wanted to win the game and we fell a little bit short. Again, a three-game week, you rely on everyone to go out there and play and perform. So you just got to manage it the best way that you can in these situations and, again, we're going to go to Kansas and look for a win."

Orlando Pride (0-3-0, 0 points) at Kansas City Current (0-3-0, 0 points)

When: Sunday, 5 p.m.

Where: Children's Mercy Park, Kansas City

TV: Paramount+ (subscription required)

Official Heineken Silver Watch Party: Kiwi's Pub & Grill (801 W State Rd 436 Ste 1017, Altamonte Springs, FL 32714)