The Orlando Pride haven’t played an NWSL match in almost a month. The league took most of August off so that players could travel to the Olympics without having to miss too much club play. With most of the Olympians back in town, the Pride are ready to get back on the pitch and play their first match against the Washington Spirit.
But the Spirit will not be an easy opponent. Sitting high at the top of the table, the Spirit have proved to be one of the most complete teams in the league this year. They played their first game back last week against the Houston Dash, so they won’t need any time to adjust to the game. “They’ve got a few attacking weapons, won five out of their last six games,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said before training on Thursday. “There hasn’t been any easy games this year and this is going to be another tough game.”
But Sermanni feels good about his team’s chances. The Pride Olympians have been playing in matches for the last three weeks, while the other Pride players feel well-rested and refreshed. “Our performances against teams at the top of the league have been very good, particularly here at home,” Sermanni said. “So, hopefully the key thing for us is to get our structure, to get our focus right, to get our tactics right, and for the players to show up on the day and perform.”
With the Pride heading into the final stretch of the NWSL season, they are focused on working their way up the table and making a run for the playoffs. “I think we’ve reached the stage now where we’ve got a chance at making the playoffs,” Sermanni said. “There is an individual and collective element to what we need to do in the next five games.”
The players don’t need any encouragement. They know how important these final matches are, and they are ready to fight for their place in the top slots. “Every single game is super important,” Alex Morgan said. “I think everyone’s pretty motivated at this point.”
“I think we want to show that we as a team are gonna be competitive right to the end of the season,” Sermanni said. “And whether or not we make the playoffs, that we finish as high as possible in the competition.”