Orlando Pride (7-8-1, 22 points) vs San Diego Wave (7-6-3, 24 points)
When: Friday, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Fla.
TV: Paramount+ (subscription required)
As the Pride play host to the Wave in a pivotal match, here are six things to watch for:
“The Force is Strong with This One”
Forward Messiah Bright bagged her first professional brace in the Pride’s most recent 5-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars. The goals counted as her sixth and seventh across all competitions, which leads the team and also leads all NWSL rookies this season. The TCU product has also now scored in back-to-back matches for the first time in her professional career. Her performance against the Red Stars earned her NWSL Player of the Week honors.
“Do. Or Do Not. There is No Try”
The match against the Red Stars saw the two newest Pride acquisitions make their Club debuts in defender Rafaelle and forward Mariana Larroquette. Both debutants were able to find the back of the net in the match, celebrating their first games in purple with a goal. Rafaelle earned the start and began the scoring on the night, scoring 15 minutes into the match. Larroquette came on in the 60th minute as a substitute and got off the mark just four minutes into her debut.
“It’s Over... I Have the High Ground”
Midfielder Mikayla Cluff came on as a second-half substitute in the 60th minute and made an immediate impact in the match. Cluff provided the assist to Larroquette in the 64th minute laying off a nice pass to to the forward in the box. Just four minutes later, Cluff got in on the scoring, finding the back of the net in the 68th minute with a one-time finish. The assist is the first assist for Cluff of the season and of her professional career. The goal counted as her second of the season and her fourth overall while donning the Pride kit.
“I Find your Lack of Faith Disturbing”
The Pride are unbeaten against the Wave since the West Coast side joined the league in 2022. In three league matches, the Pride have beaten the Wave twice and drawn once. The Pride won the two sides’ meeting earlier this season at Snapdragon Stadium thanks to goals from Cluff, Haley McCutcheon and Adriana en route to a 3-1 win. Last year, Orlando went 1-0-1, with the lone draw between the sides coming from Exploria Stadium on Sept. 25, 2022.
“Never Tell me the Odds”
To go along with Rafaelle’s goal, fellow Brazilian internationals Marta and Adriana also picked up assists on the night. With the three all earning goal contributions, it marked the first time in NWSL history that three players from a country other than the United States contributed at least one goal contribution for a team in a single match. This was the first game back for all three players since the trio appeared for Brazil in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“Rebellions Are Built on Hope”
Entering Friday’s match, the Pride are looking to make a push for the playoffs with five matches remaining in the regular season. It would mark the team’s second-ever postseason appearance after earning their first back in 2017. The side is riding a strong recent record in the regular season, with a three-game shutout streak dating back to July 1. Orlando has totaled 315 total minutes without allowing a goal, outscoring opponents 9-0 over the three matches and has also racked up four wins over their last six matches.
- Forward Marta is four appearances away from 100 across all competitions as a member of the Pride. The Brazilian is on track to become the first Pride player to hit the century mark milestone for the Club.
- Marta’s next goal will mark her 30th while with the Club.
- Celia is one appearance away from 30 appearances with the Pride and three appearances away from 50 across all NWSL regular seasons.