Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride look to close out UKG Challenge Cup with upward momentum

SANFORD, Fla. -- Just one match remains for the Orlando Pride in their UKG Challenge Cup run. One match before the regular season starts back up, with just seven matches remaining in the 2023 season.

It's the last opportunity for the Pride to get positive momentum heading into the final stretch as they take on Gotham tonight, something that head coach Seb Hines has been key in focusing on this week in training. 

"It's not going to be an easy game and we need to get back to winning ways," He said at Orlando Health Training Ground at Sylvan Park this week. "The reaction that the players showed after the disappointing performance against North Carolina was great. We have to carry that on. It'll even itself out if we perform the way that we did against Washington we'll win games that way. That'll be a message and that'll be what we hope to achieve on Wednesday."

Team mentality has been a massive talking point throughout the season, from both the coaching staff and the players. It's been a guiding point since day one to have that drive to want more and to fight until the end. 

"It's reinforcing the message that you're doing the right things," Hines said. "I don't want to lose that winning mentality. We wanted to win that game (against Washington). We wanted to put Washington under pressure right at the end...We are a young team and they're learning and they're getting better each and every day. Reward yourself for all the work that you've put into it. At the end of the day, the game is built on scoring goals and everyone playing their part in that. Subs coming off the bench and playing upon last game I felt the plays that came on made an impact. And it's important that everyone feels valued and part of the team. So it's just really reinforcing that message."

This will mark the final time the Pride take on Gotham this season, with the teams having faced each other three times already. The last time Orlando played up in New Jersey, they came home with a scoreless draw in a match they came inches away from, taking all three points in. 

Now in the Challenge Cup, Gotham will need a win to advance in the tournament, while the Pride will look to play spoilers. 

"We know that Gotham have to win this game to go through to the next round. So they're gonna come with a lot of intensity, they're gonna put us on the back foot straightaway, and we have to be prepared for that," Hines said. "We've played them multiple times. There hasn't been a lot between the two teams. I felt last time we went to their place we controlled the game. They walked away with a nil-nil and you know we're looking to change that. We're looking to win the game now."