Orlando Pride

Shining Bright: Rookie Messiah Bright seizes opportunity, rewards Orlando Pride's faith with first goal


ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was a special moment for Orlando Pride rookie Messiah Bright on Sunday night.

In her first home game in the NWSL, and her family in attendance, the rookie out of TCU scored her first professional goal in the 53rd minute, leveling the game against Angel City.

Not only was it her first goal, but it was the team’s first goal of the season. It was only fitting that one of the many young players that make up the core of the team was the one to do it.

At the start of the game, however, it wasn’t guaranteed that Bright would get the opportunity. For Sunday’s match, she started the game on the bench. It wasn’t until the 23rd minute, after an unfortunate injury to Julie Doyle, that the rookie got her opportunity.

“You just have to stay ready because anything can happen in this game,” Bright said, “Going in, I just wanted to play for [Doyle] and just play for my team, and that's pretty much just what I did. Taking my performance from last game that we had, letting bygones be bygones and just doing what I needed to do as a 9.”

The goal came off a turnover in the midfield forced by Kylie Strom, which popped to Erika Tymrak. She spotted Bright making a darting run toward goal and found her in stride. The forward managed to use a burst of speed to get in between two Angel City defenders and guide the ball past DiDi Haračić and in.

“Erika played the through ball and at first, I didn't really see it,” Bright said, “I saw it in good enough time to where I could make contact to the ball and really just keep my body steady and just drive through, doing what I do best, being strong on the ball, holding it and eventually creating a path for myself. I saw the keeper not really set, and I just toe-poked it pretty early.”

The goal came at an important portion of the game, as the Pride were battling back from a 1-0 first-half deficit. It was also an important moment for Bright herself, reaping the good performances she had in preseason matches and translating them into production in the real deal. Head coach Seb Hines mentioned that after the game, especially for players coming off the bench.

“You always have to be ready,” he said. “We went through that in preseason as well. The subs have to be ready to come on and make an impact impacts, whether it's 10 minutes into the game or the 80th minute. I'm really, really pleased for Messiah to get a goal. She was a beast as well. She was a pest, she was hard to play against, and that's what we need from her. We need her to be difficult to play against and her goal has justified her performance. So I was really, really pleased for her.”

After getting her pro debut in Portland one week ago and now getting her first goal in just her second game, the future for Messiah continues to shine Bright.