After suffering a shutout defeat at the hands of the Houston Dash on Saturday afternoon, Orlando Pride (3-4-3, 12 points) won’t have to wait long to get the season back on track as the team sees a quick turnaround for its next match. The Pride travel to face Sky Blue FC (5-5-1, 16 points) on Wednesday night, kicking off against the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) third-place team at Rutgers University at 7 p.m. ET.
“[Sky Blue] is a team I’d call a ‘blue collar team’. They have great energy, they work very hard for each other and in Sam Kerr they have a real match winner up front. And they’ve been playing well, particularly at home. So we’ll need to be really on top of our game on Wednesday to get a result,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “I think the key thing is that we first and foremost need to match the energy that they have, the enthusiasm that they have and the work rate that they have. If we don’t match that it will be a long night for us. If we match that, I believe we’ve got the quality and the ability in this team to go and win the game.”
The Pride recently finished a home-and-home series with the Dash, first taking a record-setting 4-2 win at BBVA Compass Stadium on June 17. Brazilian forward Marta finished with two goals and two assists in that match. The next week, however, the Dash claimed their second-ever win over the Pride with a 2-0 victory at Orlando City Stadium on June 24.
It marked just the second time this season the Pride had been held without a goal, with the first being the team’s season opener at Portland Thorns FC. Despite the loss, the Pride remain just three points out of the fourth and final playoff position.
Sky Blue have alternated wins and losses over its last six matches, most recently falling 2-1 to the Chicago Red Stars after the home side scored two goals in four minutes to complete a second-half rally. Sky Blue’s Madison Tiernan scored just three minutes in, but Chicago’s Vanessa DiBernardo and Sofia Huerta answered in the 63rd and 67th minutes, respectively.
In the last meeting between the Pride and Sky Blue, Orlando jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first half after Camila found Jasmyne Spencer open in the box. However, Kerr scored two minutes before halftime and Maya Hayes capitalized late in the match to steal all three points on May 27.
Sky Blue rookie goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan has seen a promising start to her professional career, ranking second in the NWSL in saves (44), but will have to control Marta, Camila and the rest of the Pride’s high-powered offense.
On the other end, Pride goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and the defense will look to keep Kerr, U.S. Women’s National Team player Kelley O’Hara and company in check. Kerr is currently tied for second in the league in goals (4) and assists (3), and is fifth in shots (25). Midfielder Sarah Killion is tied with Marta for the league lead in goals.
Following Wednesday’s game, Orlando wraps up a busy stretch, playing its third and final game in a week when it hosts the Red Stars at Orlando City Stadium on Saturday evening. Tickets for the 5 p.m. ET match are available at orlando-pride.com/tickets or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.