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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: North Carolina Courage (a). The Pride Fall Apart In North Carolina.

This was always going to be a difficult game for the Pride. North Carolina Courage are flying, and are just coming off the back of a remarkable 6-0 win over the Washington Spirit. Despite that, Orlando started confidently.


The Pride pressed the Courage in key areas, who found it difficult to get out of their own half for much of the opening 20 minutes of the game.


Then, a defensive slip by the typically reliable Haley McCutcheon, and Brittany Ratcliffe darted in to give North Carolina the lead on '17. Around about 20 minutes later and a slightly mistimed challenge from Jordyn Listro resulted in a penalty kick, that was duly dispatched by Malia Berkely.



And it all fell apart from there... Francesca Tagliaferri and Haley Hopkins (2) added three further goals to compound Orlando's misery.


It was a performance that, after the first 20 minutes, lacked the energy and guile required to get anything out of the Courage on their home patch.


It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong. Pride defender Kylie Strom, when I asked her as much, said the team felt like they were still in the game at 2-0 down, but it all just fell apart:


"We started off the game really well. Even when went down 2-0, we still felt like we were okay and like we were still in it. Even 3-0 we felt like we were still in it, we just needed that one goal. The first 15 minutes, we created chances, and we were playing like ourselves. We were keeping the ball, we had our patterns that we began to execute and we were doing those things. For whatever reason, we lost our way a little. It has been a little bit of a theme for us when we go down one, we have conceded again in the past few games. That is something we really need to learn and grow from. We were in it, when we played like we know how to play, we were in it so I think that is a good learning lesson.” 



That opening twenty minutes aside, it just wasn't a good performance from the Pride. They were outperformed by the Courage in every area of the field, and were way short of their hosts in every major statistic. The Courage played more passes (632-292), had more possession (67.7%-32.3%), duels won (42-26) and won twice as many tackles (15-7).


And it's so hard to pin down exactly why it all fell apart. I saw some things that concerned me... So let's dive into it.


Messiah Bright


Bright looked a shadow of her usual self... The intensity in her pressing was just not there. At all. It almost came across as... I don't want to say lazy, but there was a distinct lack of conviction in her closing down.


Bright committed 3 defensive actions (3 recoveries) in the entire game... She won 0 tackles. Comparatively Erika Tymrak committed 8 defensive actions and Kerry Abello 6. Bright just didn't look like she believed she could win any ball she charged down. She almost withdrew whenever she got close to a defender. It became easy for the Courage to play their way out.


Anna Moorhouse


I do like Moorhouse, but she seems to have lost all confidence again. She was culpable against Gotham, and looked devoid of any confidence dealing with any pressure against the Courage. Moorhouse claimed 0 crosses, saved only 2 of the 7 shots faced (for a 28.6% save rate, figure 1).


Figure 1 shows Moorhouse's statistics.


Not looking after the ball


The Pride didn't look after the ball well at all, and were guilty of turning over possession all over the pitch which was reflected in their 75% success rate from 292 passes. Look at the graphic in figure 2, which highlights how badly Orlando looked after the ball.


Figure 2 shows Orlando's unsuccessful pass positioning matrix.



Top player


Jordyn Listro



On a day where nobody really covered themselves in glory, this wasn't an easy pick. Aside from giving away the penalty for number 2, she worked hard in midfield and generally kept possession of the ball well.


Player ratings


Starting XI


Moorhouse -4- Probably one of her worst games for the Pride.


McCutcheon -6- Got caught out for the opener.

Montefusco -6- Overran as North Carolina took control.

Madril -6- Same as for Montefusco.


Villacorta -5- Couldn't get on the ball much at all.

Listro -6- Worked hard.


Tymrak -6- Worked hard out of possession.

Abello -6- Closed people down as much as she could.

Doyle -6- Looked dangerous early on and then faded.


Bright -5- One of her worst games.


Substitutes


Cluff -6- Got us a bit more control in midfield but the game had gone.

Allen -6- Nothing she could do.

Reiss -6- Same as with Allen.

Yates -6- Game had already gone.

Watt -6- Chased well


Reaction


Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines


"The scoreline doesn’t lie. Today was not good enough. North Carolina is very good both in attack and defense. They are a difficult team to break down with their athleticism and their attitude to win the ball back quickly in transition. We found it tough. I think we struggled with the basics. We talked about a game plan to put pressure on them in the right moments. If you time it a little late then they will pick you off and be threatening in the attack and that is where we fell apart.” 




*All statistics courtesy of nwslsoccer.com

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Media availability footage and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.



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