Analysis: Kansas City Current (a). Pride Left Disappointed After Letting 2-0 Lead Slip.
A controlled first-half display, from an Orlando Pride team that seemingly grows in confidence every week, put Seb Hines' side in front at the half in Kansas City. Celia's well planted header was nothing more than the Pride deserved. The question was, could they close the game out in the second half? Just hours after the club's mens team let slip a 1-0 lead in injury time.
Ultimately, the answer was no. After Julie Doyle had netted her first NWSL goal, the Pride looked well set for all 3 points. Goals from Elyse Bennett and Cece Kizer put paid to any hopes of an Orlando win, as the hosts recovered a point from 2-0 down.
The overriding feeling in the camp after the game? Disappointment. After the game, Erika Tymrak told the assembled press pool: "All of us are really disappointed, we wanted the 3 points... A tie is not good enough. I agree we've improved a lot... We're hungry for 3 points".
That feeling of disappointment is reflective of a real, tangible shift in mentality for this club. They want to win. It's been a rapid turnaround since the defeat in Portland. The team have become hard to beat. Even when they conceded the second goal, they made sure they got the point at least.
It's a good point, in terms of Kansas City being a difficult place to play, the big crowd etc, etc. But, it's less than ideal in terms of the play-off race. That's being said, the fact that they're even in a play-off race, though, is an achievement in itself when you consider everything that's happened this season. That all just just speaks to the impressive manner of the turnaround under Seb Hines.
The midfield unit
The Pride have a fairly settled midfield set up currently, and one that seems to be gelling well. I enjoyed the balance on display in this game. You have the creativity and ingenuity of Meggie Dougherty-Howard and Erika Tymrak, the balance of Kerry Abello and Vivianna Villacorta and the dogged determination of Jordyn Listro.
Listro was the enabler in this game; the Canadian won a whopping 9 recoveries, 2 interceptions and 3 clearances (figure 1). She did the dirty work, which allowed the likes of Tymrak to get on the ball and express herself, knowing full well that Listro was behind her as a security blanket. Her positioning when Tymrak gets the ball for the first goal, shows exactly what I'm referring to (figure 2). She's there, in position and ready to cover whilst Tymrak does her thing.
Meggie Dougherty-Howard always goes under the radar for me. Her role in the second goal cannot be understated. She doesn't let the loose ball go dead and has the calmness, the presence of mind and the ability to pick out a quality pass to Doyle (figure 3).
The midfield is really coming together.
Figure 1 shows Listro's defensive statistics.
Figure 2 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 3 is a clip showing the second Pride goal.
Celia has to be considered first choice right-back now
The Spaniard has played her way into the team and cemented the starting spot as her own. I felt she had another strong performance on Sunday, particularly from a defensive standpoint. She was very good positionally, she also offered width to the attack. Not to mention the goal.
Celia posted a 7.2 rating on fotmob.com, which was a fair reflection on her overall performance. She has been reliable and astute. She managed Hailie Mace quite well, and gave small change on the Current's left-flank. Celia won 1 tackle, made 4 recoveries and won 2 duels. She also took her goal very well.
Doyle grabbed her first senior goal and generally looked lively throughout the game. Was withdrawn on 58 minutes, she also did a lot of good defensive work, winning 4 of her 5 duels as well as 3 recoveries. For the goal, her teammates kept a seemingly dead ball alive, but she was alert and did well to get goal side and apply a clinical finish. This game should give her a lot of confidence as we head into an important part of the season.
McLeod -6- Had a good game overall but will be kicking herself after the equaliser.
Celia -7- Has surely made the right-back slot her own.
Montefusco -7- Commanding display from the centre back.
Lawrence -6- Played well overall but needs to close down Bennett quicker for the first goal.
Strom -7- As with Celia, seems to have a full-back spot nailed on.
Tymrak -7- Provided vision and creativity on the flank.
Villacorta -7- Part of a fluid midfield set up.
Dougherty-Howard -8- One of the Pride's best players.
Listro -7- Broke up the play well.
Abello -7- Provided balance, and was key for the second goal.
Doyle -8- Led the line well and did well to get her goal.
Petersen -6- Not her best game coming in, kept trying to force passes that weren't really on.
Cluff -6- Would've made it 3 if not for Franch.
Jónsdóttir -6- Good to have her back.
Kim -6- Came in too late to impact things.
Acting Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines:
“Disappointed because we put ourselves in a great position to win the game. We knew how important this game was as Kansas are in playoff position and we’re chasing to get into a playoff position. We said before the game that we wanted to walk away from here with three points. I can’t fault the players, they put everything into it. They’re disappointed as well. So, overall, really pleased with the first half. We took it to Kansas, who are in good form right now, I think now they are unbeaten in eight. We got our goal, started the second half extremely well and got another goal. I think the evolution of us would be to, when we are up in games, weather storms and, when the opponent starts punching more players forward, can we get ourselves out of those situations? [To] where we can defend effectively and attack with penetration passes and play our style of play, even though the emphasis is on them to try to get an equalizer and get back into the game.”
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com.
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Highlights reel courtesy of NWSL.
Post match media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Game still courtesy of NWSL & CBS.