Analysis: OL Reign (a). Pride Close Out Season With Resounding 3-0 Defeat On The Road.
There is a lot of work to be done this off-season. Yet again. I've been optimistic about this team for most of the season and whilst I still hold steadfastly to that belief, it's true that we are very far from being able to compete with the likes of OL Reign and the Portland Thorns.
We're a million miles off.
That being said, we have a promising core of young players who will only get better. I look forward to the likes of Haley Bugeja, Thais Reiss and Leah Pruitt becoming mainstays of the team next season.
The Pride have to get the coaching hire right. That much is obvious. We cannot have another season like this one. It's no fun sitting out the post season party. It'll likely be another 5 months at least before we are back in action. That time has to be used well. It just has to.
Despite the resounding nature of this defeat, the game will make for useful viewing when the new head coach, whoever they might be, sits down to analyse video footage of this season's games. They'll learn a lot...
Soooo, what exactly will they learn?
They'll learn Megan Montefusco cannot play in midfield
Montefusco did a serviceable job at times this season, when injuries etc necessitated it. But she shouldn't be an option when players like Jordyn Listro are available. Montefusco is a defender by trade. She's not mobile enough and is far too pedestrian. Just look at the clip in figure 1. She's jogging around but is taken out of the game by both Rose Lavelle and Quinn. All too often they were able to bypass our midfield with next to no pressure on the ball.
OL Reign are so dynamic in the midfield you need high energy, high pressure midfielders to help you win the ball in those key transition moments. The likes of Jessica Fishlock and Lavelle do not stand still. It was alarming, the frequency with which they were able to bypass our midfield.
Figure 1 is a clip from the first half.
We need dynamism in midfield and Montefusco just isn't that. And that's not her fault. She's a defender by trade and she should be starting there. For me, I want to see Montefusco and Carrie Lawrence develop as a a central defensive partnership, but that's another story.
They'll learn this team needs Erika Tymrak every week
Tymrak's exclusion from the side in recent weeks has been baffling to me. She didn't even make it onto the field yesterday. We're just a better team with her in the side. Marta aside she's clearly the most technically skilful player on the team. People might point to her 0 goals and 2 assists and say 'well, you know...'. That's a false equivalency. Tymrak's only started 15 games this season and rarely gets a run of games.
Her underlying numbers have been good too; in the Challenge Cup she had a pass completion rate of 80.9% and 10 key passes in 3 starts and 2 substitute appearances. Whilst she had a pass success rate of 75.8% in the regular season and made 18 key passes (figure 2). She's one of the only players on the team who is able to take opposing players out of the game with her ball carrying ability.
Figure 2 shows some of Tymrak's passing statistics on the season.
Toni Pressley's days might be numbered
I realise this might not be a very popular opinion, and it's not one I share lightly. I think it's time to move on. As the last remaining OG, she should hold hero status for the Pride. And she will. But I just don't think she's a starting defender for us anymore. She was regularly exposed in Seattle, most notably for the second goal by Jordyn Huitema. Huitema just strolls past Pressley (figure 3) like she's not there, and Pressley (who seems to have lost a yard of pace) is powerless to stop her advancing on Erin McLeod and applying an easy finish.
Figure 3 is a clip from the first half.
They'll learn that Carrie Lawrence is our best central defender
One of the first names on the teamsheet for me. The young Floridian is the club's best centre back and should be one of the faces of the team moving forward. Lawrence has so much upside; her distribution is good, her one v one defending is good, her positioning is excellent and her ability to play out from the back is very positive.
Despite the egregious nature of the scoreline, she actually had another solid game. Overall Lawrence completed 2 clearances, 4 interceptions and a whopping 17 recoveries. Lawrence also completed 82% of her 71 passes, whilst completing more passes into the final third than some of her midfield teammates. Oh, and her 58 completed passes was the most of any player in the match, Pride or OL Reign.
Figure 4 shows Lawrence's defensive statistics, whole 90.
I have spoken about her performance already. She's one of the players that represents the future of this club. A priority for any incoming coach should be improving the terms of her deal and making her the lynchpin of our defence.
McLeod -5- Not her finest hour.
Strom -5- Didn't have the best of games, but I'm still trumpeting the Kylie Strom appreciation society. Don't you worry.
Lawrence -7- Our best player on the day.
Pressley -5- Hopelessly caught out for the second.
Petersen -6- Not her finest hour, but after hardly playing lately this was a tough ask.
Montefusco -5- Not a midfielder.
Hanson -5- Still finding her feet.
Dougherty-Howard -6- Couldn't get into the game.
Jónsdóttir -6- Worked hard.
Jenkins -5- Didn't get a sniff.
Pruitt -5- Completely on an island.
Listro -6- Baffling she didn't start.
Celia -6- Shored things up a bit.
Bugeja -6- Looked bright.
Doyle -5- Hardly got a kick.
Abello -5- Came on too late.
Orlando Pride Interim Head Coach Seb Hines:
“Obviously a disappointing start to the game. It’s never good going three goals down at halftime but I felt that we were better in the second half but it was too late by that time…The message [after the game] was don’t let this last end to the season dictate how far you’ve come, what you’ve gone through, the adversity that you’ve shown and the togetherness that you’ve had to bring this group together and have a direction. Although it’s disappointing and we don’t want to end this way, we can take a lot of pride moving forward. [The players have] been through a lot this year and it’s important that they stick together and come back motivated next year.”
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and NWSLsoccer.com
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Highlights reel courtesy of NWSL.
Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.