Storylines | Pride at North Carolina Courage

Keep Em’ Coming
Ashlyn Harris continued her recent form last Wednesday against Washington, registering nine saves en route to the Pride’s first clean sheet of the calendar year. Harris recorded a stop from the penalty spot for the second-consecutive week, this time denying Washington forward Ashley Hatch in what would become her 30th NWSL Save of the Week honor while with the Pride. Harris was also named NWSL Player of the Week for her performance, her first such honor in six seasons in Orlando.

Insert “It’s Happening” Meme Here
Alex Morgan made her long-awaited return to the Pride against the Spirit last week, her first time in purple since Aug. 21, 2019. Morgan recorded the assist on Sydney Leroux’s eventual game-winner, her first goal contribution for the Club since Aug. 25, 2018. With Morgan’s appearance on Wednesday, the Pride’s front three of the two-time FIFA World Cup Champion, fellow World Cup Champion Sydney Leroux and six-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta featured on the pitch for the first time together under Head Coach Marc Skinner.

She Back
Sydney Leroux found the back of the net for the first time in the calendar year with her game-winner last Wednesday against Washington. The finish marked the first for Leroux since Sept. 26, 2020 against the Houston Dash at the NWSL Fall Series and her eighth across all competitions for the Pride. Leroux finished her debut season in Orlando as the Club’s leading scorer with six finishes in 2018 before missing the majority of the 2019 campaign after giving birth to her second child, daughter Roux.

A Pride Debut
The Pride’s last outing saw the Club-debut for midfielder Gunny Jónsdóttir, who featured at right back for Orlando against Washington after missing the side’s prior two matches due to international duty. Acquired via trade this past offseason, Jónsdóttir featured 52 times as a member of the Utah Royals through three seasons, scoring two goals while adding six assists. 

Breaking the Deadlock
In its last two meetings with the Courage, the Pride have played to a pair of draws, the first coming on Sept. 19 in the Club’s Fall Series opener a year ago, a scoreless affair at WakeMed Soccer Park. The two sides would find the back of the net aplenty the next go around, with the Pride erasing a three-goal deficit (completed by a 92nd minute equalizer from defender Ally Haran) to split the points between the two sides to complete their respective Fall Series slates. 

The Circumstances
The Pride are still in position to qualify for the 2021 Challenge Cup Final, needing a few things to fall into place for a meeting with the Portland Thorns next week. Orlando would need to defeat North Carolina on Saturday, followed by a loss from Gotham FC on Sunday against Louisville. Such results would put the two sides in a tie for the top of the East Division, the tiebreakers being goal differential, goals scored, lowest team conduct score regarding yellow/red cards and drawing of lots in that order. If Orlando wins by 2+ goals, paired with a Gotham loss, they will face Portland next week for the Cup.