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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: North Carolina Courage (h). Orlando Haven't Given Up The Ghost Yet.

At a time when the Ahsoka series has reignited my love for The Ghost, Hera Syndulla's reliable ship from Star Wars Rebels, it's good to see that the Orlando Pride haven't given up the ghost in terms of their NWSL Championship play-off hunt.


Some favourable results elsewhere, combined with this win, mean that Orlando have closed the gap to just a point with 3 games to go. They'll need one or two favours to get it done, with all 3 remaining games against clubs below the line. But they have given themselves a shot.



And that's really all they could do. It's not about performances at this stage of the season. We are very much at the business end of the season and all we really need at this point are results.


And that's exactly what happened.



A more assured defensive display


Unlike last week, the Pride didn't give themselves a huge early mountain to climb. They stayed compact and kept a good defensive shape throughout the contest, which is reflected in the fact that that of 123 North Carolina attacks, only 37 were classified as dangerous attacks by FlashScore. They also only created 1 big chance, which was the goal by Manaka Matsukubo.


The Pride won 18 of their tackles, which made for a success rate of 69% (figure 1). They also completed 17 clearances, 8 interceptions and 2 blocks. The Pride's defensive unit was very well organized (figure 2) which limited the Courage's ability to break them down.


Carly Nelson also had a solid game in goal, making 1 save, 2 high claims and 9 recoveries. She wasn't exactly busy. She couldn't really do much with the goal, as the Pride switched off for the first (and really only) time of the night. She looked very assured and should probably see out the season.


Figure 1 shows the key defensive statistics for both teams.


Figure 2 shows a game still from the first half.


Clinical finishing


Let's get it straight. This was not a dominant performance for the Pride. The Courage played twice as many passes (597-286) and took care of the ball far better than the Pride did, making 88% of their passes stick, whilst the Pride had a much lower pass success rate of 73%. The Pride needed a little more composure on the ball.


It's probably not all that surprising that a team in poor form wasn't that great at keeping the ball. That happens. What you then have to do is keep things tight and take your chances when they come along. Which the Pride did well. Two well taken goals from Ally Watt and Adriana sealed the deal.


The Pride now have a shot at the play-offs. Time to take that shot.



Top player


Adriana



A goal and an assist for the Brazilian. Adriana showed her undoubted creativity by carving our 3 chances, including 2 big chances inclusive of her assist for Ally Watt. The Pride are going to need a big few weeks from her if they're to earn an invitation to the post-season.


Player ratings


Starting XI


Nelson -6- Assured.


McCutcheon -7- Solid defensive work.

Rafaelle -7- Settling in nicely.

Madril -7- Looked composed.

Strom -7- Defended well 1 v 1.


Listro -6- Put a shift in.

Cluff -7- One of the more composed players on the ball.


Doyle -7- Dynamic.

Adriana -8- Won the game.

Marta -7- Great leadership.


Watt -8- Took her goal well and led the line astutely.


Substitutes 


Bright -6- Didn't really get into the game.

Villacorta -6- Provided energy.

Abello -6- Worked hard.

Jimenez -6- Came on too late.

Martinez -6- Came on too late.


Reaction


Orlando Pride head coach


"Massive win tonight. We are running out of games now with only three games to go. We have to give absolutely everything. I think, looking back, some of the performances were brilliant and we haven’t rewarded ourselves with three points. I am so happy that we were able to get up in the game and take our opportunities. A lot of credit has to go to the players because they are the ones that are competing and going out there day in and day out in training and performing at such a high level. I feel we made it uncomfortable for North Carolina going up in the game and not giving them too much playing through the lines and stopping their rhythm. You have to have the right mindset to do that, and I thought everyone from back to front did their job and were brilliant at their job.”




*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and FlashScore.co.uk

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Post match media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.

B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Game still courtesy of NWSL/CBS Sports.



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