A message was sent to the rest of the NWSL, and that message was clear: the Pride want to dominate.
The playoffs had already been clinched, yet Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni decided to field his strongest line-up to face North Carolina on Saturday - with clear intent to win. Sermanni and the Pride got that win, as Orlando now enters the postseason nine matches unbeaten.
“It was the kind of game that could have been an exhibition, but turned out to be more like a Cup Final,” a delighted Tom Sermanni said after Saturday’s win. “And I think just says a lot about the spirit and competitiveness of the players.”
“We didn’t want to plague our momentum. We’d gone eight games undefeated, and we talked about changing the line-up during the week,” the Pride head coach explained. “[But] players want to play, and we want to keep our team in the rhythm we’ve been in for the past couple of months.”
The value of winning, and, in-turn, building momentum towards the playoffs, will not be overlooked. There was never a doubt of the Orlando Pride’s desire to keep winning and playing ‘real football’ as the postseason approaches. This is why teams play - to be there at the end with a chance to win it all. And the Pride fancy themselves to be in that Championship match, in front of their home fans, just two weeks away.
“We wanted to continue the momentum heading forward,” Pride forward Alex Morgan said. “We didn’t want to rest players, we wanted to come [to North Carolina] and win.”
“We wanted to prove that we are dominating right now in this league. It doesn’t matter where we go. Obviously now that’s Portland, we’re excited to go there and we have a lot of motivation because we want to be playing at home come October 14th.”
The Pride will be preparing all week for the biggest game thus far in the club’s short history. A Semi-final matchup with the Portland Thorns will be a massive test for Orlando, but the surging Pride approach the challenge with supreme confidence, having proven to themselves and the rest of the league that Orlando is here to dominate.