Analysis: North Carolina Courage (h). Orlando Score Twice, But Are Hit For Four By The Courage
The Orlando Pride finally found their shooting boots, as 2 very well taken Darian Jenkins strikes underlined her goal scoring potential. The caveat? The Pride were 3-0 down by the time they started to get their fill. Remarkably, it took the visitors 8 minutes to assert their dominance. Whilst Orlando's attacking output would've been pleasing to head coach Amanda Cromwell, their defensive collapse will be particularly concerning. Since the first goal by the Washington Spirit 2 weeks ago, the Pride have folded like a pack of cards every time they are put under even the slightest bit of pressure.
Whilst Orlando's attacking output would've been pleasing to head coach Amanda Cromwell, their defensive collapse will have been particularly concerning. Since the first goal by the Washington Spirit 2 weeks ago, the Pride have folded like a pack of cards every time they are put under even the slightest bit of pressure. There's no getting around it, the defending for all 3 goals was, at best, atrocious. They cost the Pride the game. They are what I wish to focus on in this analysis. Unfortunately. Courtney Petersen, in particular, struggled to get to grips with anything that came down her side of the field. I'm a huge admirer of hers but, positionally speaking, this was her worst ever performance in an Orlando jersey. She was caught hopelessly out of position on numerous occasions. She is young, however, so will learn from this game. The warning signs, though, for the Pride's defensive unit, are worrying.
Abysmal defending in the first half
Regular readers will know I'm not one to sugar coat things, I don't think it benefits anyone. Like Jared Leto can't act in a comic book movie. See? The defending for all 3 goals during the Courage's 8 minute opening salvo was abysmal. Like Morbius. Atrocious. Use any adjective you want, it wasn't good enough. All 3 opening goals come from that right flank. I hate to highlight players like this, but there's no way around it. There was a dereliction of duty on Petersen's part. She wasn't the only one, but she has to take a large portion of the blame.
Petersen was caught hopelessly out of position for the first goal (figure 1). She's drawn infield towards the ball, and leaves a gaping hold behind her which Merritt Mathias exploits. Megan Montefusco tries to get anything she can on the ball, otherwise it's a tap in for Jaelene Daniels. Unfortunately for Montefusco the ball ends up in the back of the net. She should never have been put in that position, however.
Figure 1 is a game still from just before the first goal.
The second goal cannot be attributed solely to Petersen; there are a number of errors here. Petersen doesn't do enough to cut out the cross, nor does Toni Pressley (figure 2). Celia and Montefusco both allow Daniels to get goal side as they're both caught ball watching and it's 2-0. Moorhouse probably needs to be more aggressive in claiming the initial cross too.
Figure 2 is a game still from just before the second goal.
The third goal is arguably the worst of the bunch. Petersen is caught horribly out of position (again) as she is drawn into the centre (figure 3). Taylor Smith then darts into the space vacated by Petersen and gets one-on-one with Moorhouse, who will probably be disappointed to be beaten at her near post. Amanda Cromwell must've been pulling her hair out.
Figure 3 is a game still from just before the third goal.
Darian Jenkins was superb. Her athleticism, directness and finishing were superfluous. She's shown, in flashes, how good she can be. She was all over the front line on Saturday evening (figure 4). She could be an explosive forward for the Pride this year.
I wanted to say more positive things, but I genuinely can't think of any. All I can do is reiterate what I've been saying; this rebuild is going to take time. Don't expect instant results.
Figure 4 shows Darian Jenkins' pass and tackle positioning matrix, whole 90 (🟥 unsuccessful pass, 🟩 successful pass and 🟦 tackle).
Top player Darian Jenkins
Bright spot on an otherwise dismal evening for the Pride. Jenkins totalled 4 shots, scoring twice. She ran the channels well and was always available for the outball. Is developing into an important player for this team, and took both of her goals well. Hopefully there's plenty more to come.
Player ratings Starting XI Moorhouse -7- Stopped it from being a rout, though she could do better with the second and third goal. Petersen -4- Probably her worst game defensively. Shake it off, and learn from it. Pressley -6- Dished the ball out reasonably well, but was left exposed by her teammates too often. Montefusco -6- Unlucky with the own goal, distributed the ball well. Celia -7- Got up and down the field well, nice cross for the second goal. Dougherty-Howard -6- Played some nice passes, but was overrun at times. Strom -6- Looked lost. Jenkins -8- Played well, two good goals. Cluff -6- Couldn't get into the game. Tymrak -7- Was industrious and tried to make things happen. Pruitt -7- Nice assist for the first. Substitutes Abello -6- Got up and down the field well. Doyle -7- Came on for 20 minutes and got stuck right in. Jónsdóttir -6- Passing was off. Lawrence -6- Won a few tackles. Turner -7- Shored things up at the back. Reaction Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell: “A little disappointed because you see what we can do when we have a little urgency and confidence and are courageous on the ball, so coming out how we did, we looked a little bit scared. We looked a little bit timid, we weren’t communicating and putting enough pressure on the ball or shifting well. They [North Carolina] came out buzzing, that’s what they do, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise but as coaches we have to look at it and see how we could have prepared our team better. As players, we have to play 90 minutes. We’ve put together a lot of good parts of games, but that’s not going to win us games. We have to put together a complete 90 minutes.”
*All statistics courtesy of nwslsoccer.com
Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando Pride.