Analysis: NJ/NY Gotham FC (a). The Pride Impress In Gotham Stalemate.
There are lots of positive signs coming out of this Orlando Pride team right now. For so long, Pride teams have treated the ball like a hot potatoe, wanting to get rid of it at the first opportunity.
There are more than tentative signs that the Pride are becoming a very capable team in possession. The passing and movement for much of this game was excellent and indicative of a team that's not only starting to click, but is also brimming with confidence.
The Pride will have left Red Bull Arena with a sense of disappointment that they have not won this game (a sentiment echoed by Seb Hines in his post match interview) which I believe is always a good sign. Despite that, they have gained a very solid point on the road, against a team that's flying high in the NWSL.
This was a match the Pride controlled for the majority of the encounter, and one they would have deservedly won had their finishing been a bit more precise.
Mikayla Cluff and Vivianna Villacorta
Cluff was outstanding in the middle of the park, alongside Villacorta. The two dictated the flow of the game for Orlando. They were energetic, they won the second balls, they helped to control possession... They're showing signs of developing into a really efficient midfield partnership. In New Jersey on Sunday, they dominated an opposing midfield that contained Allie Long, Kristie Mewis and Yazmeen Ryan. Which just speaks for itself really.
Cluff had, I would arguably say, her best game for the Pride. Certainly this season. She looks very confident right now and it's great to see. Cluff completed 70% of her passes, which isn't a stellar statistic, but when you look at the type of passes she was trying to play that were cut out (figure 1) you can see she was trying to break lines into Gotham's defensive third. Those passes are higher risk, and as such generally run a relatively high risk of being picked. On the other side of the ball, her tenacity really shone through as she won 8/13 ground duels, made 2 interceptions and 8 recoveries. She had a great game.
The same goes for Villacorta. The 24-year-old's passing was absolutely stellar; she completed 90% of her 31 passes. Contrarily to Cluff, Villacorta was recycling possession a lot, passing backwards and to the sides (figure 2). This was an important task, because she was often triggering the Gotham press, so by playing it simple, to the sides or back, the Pride were able to find ways to play through that press and get up the pitch.
Figure 1 shows Cluff's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 2 shows Villacorta's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Anna Moorhouse has nailed down the starting spot
I have to be frank, I had my reservations about Moorhouse after the Portland game. At Providence Park she seemed very unsure of herself and looked very shaky. Since then she has gone from strength to strength really showed her worth in this game, showing Jedi like reflexes in making a late save to deny Ryan and preserve a vital clean sheet and point for the Pride.
That was the only save she had to make during the game, but that's the mark of a confident goalkeeper. Concentration is crucial. And whilst she'll have far busier afternoons than this, her contributions were no less salient than had she made 10 saves. The backline are bound to feel all the more confident about keeping cleansheets when Moorhouse is playing as she is.
Madril is growing into one of the most important members of the team. Her calmness and composure at the back is helping the Pride to build a solid foundation. Her ability to pick out a pass, as well as that of Megan Montefusco's, mean that Orlando are able to build out from the back. She's a darn good footballer and her performance in New Jersey showed that; she made 10 recoveries, 2 interceptions and had a pass success rate of 81%. Only Marta, Haley McCutcheon and Kylie Strom had more touches of the ball. Her fotmob.com rating of 7.2, I feel, was a little disingenuous. It was a top performance.
Moorhouse -7- Dependable.
McCutcheon -8- Looked a threat running from deep.
Madril -8- Built out from the back well.
Montefusco -8- Same as Madril. Real leader.
Strom -8- Had a great game.
Cluff -8- One of her best performances.
Villacorta -8- Has a great partnership with Cluff.
Adriana -7- Lively but could have done better when in on goal in the first half.
Tymrak -7- Movement was good.
Marta -7- Really wanted her second half shot to go in.
Bright -7- Ran the line well.
Abello -6- Provided fresh legs late on.
Yates -6- Couple of promising moments.
Watt -6- Probably could have come in earlier.
Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines
"Disappointed that we haven't come away with three points, I think all the players feel the same way. It was a complete performance, we were very difficult to play against and, considering they've [Gotham] got some of the best players in the league, I felt the back line, midfielders, forwards...they all worked extremely hard to get a clean sheet tonight. I'm really happy with them. We created a lot of opportunities, as well, it just didn't fall our way but there's a lot of growth in today's game and we're still building that momentum. Now we're just looking forward to the next game because we're starting to gel and get together and connecting a lot better now. So, yeah, overall pleased that performance both felt like we could have won the game, certainly.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Media availability and B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.