Regular season opener: Orlando Pride at Portland Thorns
When: Sunday, 5 p.m.
Where: Providence Park, Portland, Ore.
TV: FOX35 PLUS, Paramount+
As the Orlando Pride prepare to open a new NWSL campaign, here are five storylines to watch during Sunday's opener in Portland:
In the offseason, the Pride announced the promotion of Seb Hines to Head Coach, as he signed a multi-year contract to lead the Pride.
The match on Sunday against the Thorns will see Hines at the helm of the Pride for the first time as the Club’s official head coach. Hines was named the Club’s interim head coach on June 7, 2022, leading the Pride over the final 15 matches of the 2022 season. During that time, the Pride went on a seven-game unbeaten run from July 3 to Aug. 20, and saw increases in the team’s averages on shots, shot on target, and passing accuracy, as well as three total clean sheets.
At the time of his interim appointment, Hines became the first Black head coach in the NWSL and has now made history as the league's first-ever Black full-time head coach.
Tradition never graduates
The Pride will take on the Thorns to open the NWSL regular season against each other for the fourth time in the league’s history, making it the most common season opening pairing in NWSL history.
The two sides first met on the first game of the regular season in 2016 with the Thorns taking a 2-1 victory over the Pride which was followed by a 2017 matchup, ending in a 2-0 win for the Thorns. Both matches took place at Providence Park.
The most recent time they faced off on opening day was 2019 and ended with another 2-0 win for the Thorns at Exploria Stadium.
DRAFTing a successful squad
The Pride received five picks in the 2023 NWSL Draft and have signed three of those five picks to contracts to start the 2023 season.
The third overall pick, Emily Madril, is looking to make an immediate impact for the pride in the backline already providing consistency in the squad’s backline throughout the preseason, as well as finding the back of the net in a preseason match against Florida State university.
With the No. 21 overall pick, the Pride selected forward Messiah Bright and signed her to a three-year deal to keep her in Orlando. Bright scored a brace in the Club’s final preseason match and picked up an assist during the preseason.
The Pride also signed forward Summer Yates to a two-year contract after she was selected in the fourth round, No. 39 overall, and has had an impressive preseason.
All three 2023 NWSL Draft picks will look to continue to make an immediate impact for the Pride this season.
Can’t be beat, won’t be beat
The Pride went unbeaten in their 2023 preseason, which was highlighted by a come-from-behind victory over the Washington Spirit in the side’s final preseason match.
Throughout the preseason, the Pride also picked up wins against Florida State University, University of Central Florida and a 2-0 shutout victory over the Kansas City Current in front of their fans at Exploria Stadium.
The Pride finished the preseason with three clean sheets, three wins over fellow NWSL sides and scored at least two goals in every preseason match they played.
Trailblazers in Portland
Sunday’s match will see the Pride sporting their new updated Luna Kit, which prioritizes women’s health and player experience.
To make players more comfortable and confident when playing during their menstrual cycle, the team will now wear black shorts, replacing the white shorts previously worn throughout the 2022 season and with other secondary kits in prior years.
The Pride became the first NWSL team to update to dark shorts due to period concerns.
2023 Orlando Pride Flex Plans
Choose 3-5 matches of your choice, starting at only $45!