It feels so good to be writing about an Orlando Pride victory. It's been a tumultuous week for me, personally, in terms of the beautiful game. Orlando City dropped points in Cincinnati, Nottingham Forest, my hometown team, lost at Coventry. I was starting to feel a certain degree of animosity towards the game. And then came the Orlando Pride, like an Adam West Batman episode. Thwack. Wham. Crash. Goals from Jodie Taylor and Sydney Leroux eased Becky Burleigh's team to a comfortable win in the Windy City. You might even say it was a breeze... *Pause for comedic effect*. No. OK.
And make no mistake, this was a comfortable win for Orlando, against a difficult opponent. They made it comfortable, with their excellent shape and counter attacking play. We know that, on their day, the Pride are one of the best transitional teams in the league. This win just further underlined that fact, as goals from Jodie Taylor and Sydney Leroux ensured Becky Burleigh's team ended the week in 4th place.
Quality in transition
Orlando, as I said, are one of the best transitional sides in the league. And it showed in this game. With 44 duels won and 17 interceptions, they were always going to give themselves chances to break on Chicago, once they won those initial turnovers. And it wasn't just that Chicago were giving the ball away carelessly, Orlando just pressed them really well and forced those turnovers all over their defensive half of the field (figure 1). Orlando were then able to spring into action, and take the game to Chicago.
They were much more patient, in terms of their possession of the ball, than they ever were under Marc Skinner. And that's no slight on him, it's just a fact. For only the second time this season, they played more passes than the opposition. And for only the second time this season, they played over 400 passes. Both of the games included in the latter statistic, were under Becky Burleigh. Their more calculated approach allowed the more creative players to find space and devastate their opponent.
Figure 1 shows Orlando's interception map.
The quality of Orlando's full backs
Both of the Pride's full-backs, Ali Riley and Courtney Petersen, were absolute quality in this game. Both in terms of their defensive and offensive actions. First of all, the defensive statistics of both make for pleasant reading; Riley had 7 recoveries and 2 clearances (figure 2), whilst Petersen made 1 tackle, 1 clearance, and 6 recoveries (figure 3). Their positioning was excellent they knew when to get forward, and when to hold the line. I'm a huge fan of attacking full-backs, especially when you're calm and measured on the ball as a team. They give you width and allow you to play a slightly higher line, and thus dictate possession of the ball in the opponents' half (figure 4).
Figure 2 shows Ali Riley's clearance and recovery map.
Figure 3 shows Courtney Petersen's clearance and recovery map.
Figure 4 shows a game still where both full-backs are pushed high, which penned Chicago in.
The performance of Ali Krieger
Ali Krieger was one of the standout performers on the night. She wasn't overly stretched from a defensive point of view, but she provided an excellent springboard for attacks. Her distribution was excellent as she almost assumed a quarterbacks mantle, spraying the ball around like Tom Brady. She boasted a pass completion rate of 86% from 43 passes (figure 5), including an exquisite assist for Jodie Taylor to latch on to and score. You'll be hard pressed to find a better pass in the NWSL this season.
Figure 5 shows Ali Krieger's overall statistics.
Ali Krieger was just bossing it in Chicago. There's no other way to describe it. She was a calming presence in the back 4, organising the defensive lines well. She helped to dictate the pace of the play, and ensured the team maintained a sure footing throughout the game. Her concentration levels were also excellent, which is reflected in the 6 recoveries she made, despite the fact that she wasn't overly worked by the Chicago forwards.
Harris -7- Solid display from Harris, as per.
Riley -8- Great performance from the Kiwi.
Krieger -8- Fantastic display.
Turner -7- Slowly but surely making that spot her own.
Petersen -8- Left-back is her best position. Fight me.
Jónsdóttir -7- Knocked the ball around well and patrolled the midfield.
Viggiano -7- Industrious, always looking to get the wheels churning.
Dougherty-Howard -7- Showed some really nice touches and pivots throughout.
Taylor -8- Led the line well and took her goal with aplomb.
Leroux -8- Can't stop scoring right now and I'm all in.
Marta -7- Great to have her back.
Tymrak -7- Lovely run and pass for the second goal.
Washington -6- Came in for the last minute or so.
Strom -6- Came in late.
McClernon -7- Solid play in the second half.
Kornieck -6- Put herself about well.
*All statistics courtesy of nwslsoccer.com
Game still courtesy of the CBS Sports Network.
NB As with last week's posts, this article will look different to it's usual format. Technical issues with Wix mean I can't use any embeds, certain fonts and a few other bits and pieces. Hopefully it will be sorted soon.
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