On Saturday, the Orlando Pride will play the final match of their inaugural season against FC Kansas City at Camping World Stadium. While the team has already been eliminated from playoff contention, they will be playing their hearts out in this final game to salute their devoted fans and look ahead to next season.
“A perfect end would be a win,” Tom Sermanni said after training this week. “A perfect end would be a good performance. A perfect end would be to finish the season on a high note. So, I think those two are our priorities: a good performance and a win.”
“I want to obviously win this last game for the fans who have supported us the entire journey, and through our ups and our downs,” Ashlyn Harris said. “I think this one is pretty special for them to continue to come out and support us, and end on a high note, and just end the season with something exciting to look forward to for the following year.”
Finishing with the second highest attendance in the league, the Orlando Pride fans have definitely proven themselves to be some of the best in the NWSL. Whether it’s greeting and sending players off to away matches at the airport, or pouring into Camping World Stadium with banners and posters, the Pride fan-base has been devoted to their club even at the toughest moments.
“This city is so frickin’ cool. When I come out, out of the tunnel, and I see people in full shark costumes and face masks that are just like Jaws… to be able to play and represent this city has been an absolute honor and a privilege and I don’t take that for granted one bit,” Harris said. “That’s why I love to spend so much time with them. I think it’s important, creating that interaction and showing your gratitude. You know, when I’m in goal and I’m getting peppered-- which has been quite a bit this season-- to hear them supporting me and screaming my name just brings a completely different level out of me. I’m not just playing for my teammates and for myself, but I’m playing for them and for my family. And to have them there to support me every single game and support this team… is unreal.”
Players and fans alike know that this is not the end of the journey for the Pride, but merely the beginning. With their inaugural season under their belt, the Pride will look to make some changes in the offseason that will improve their performance next year.
“This is a soccer city. And these people love it, and it’s our job to put on a good performance for them,” Harris said. “So, that’s what we’re gonna continue to do. I want to bring a championship to this city and I’m not gonna stop until I get it.”