• Dan Berridge

Analysis: Orlando Pride (a). The Pride Make A Splash In San Diego.

Seb Hines is playing his way into contention for the full-time head coach position, if the role becomes available following the outcome of the NWSLPA joint investigation into Amanda Cromwell.


He has to be.


They just look a totally different team, they look well organised in defence and fluid in attack. The Avengers of the NWSL, but without the weird goatees and big green person.


They just look like a team that's bought in. A team that's bought into, not only the ideals of the Pride's coaching staff, but also into the broader project at the club. This is a team that wants to be brave in possession, expressive and exciting to watch.


They're getting there.


And that was patently obvious to anyone who watched this game, a hard fought and hard thought, win over San Diego Wave.



Orlando used possession well


The Pride took care of possession very well, which is becoming something of a recurrent theme for this team. Their pass success rate of 74% (figure 1) isn't brilliant on the face of it, but when you caveat that fact with the observation that Orlando were playing a lot of high percentage passes on the counter, it makes sense.


What impressed me was how the Pride midfield took care of the ball with low percentage passes, at key times. Look at the graphic in figure 2, there are very few instances of the Pride midfield giving away sloppy passes in their own half. Even when they did, the Pride overall did some great defensive work, completing 32 clearances, 12 interceptions and 6 tackles. So it wasn't too much of a problem. Alex Morgan came close a few times, but sometimes you need a slice of good fortune. You earn your own luck in this sport. And the Pride certainly did that.


Figure 1 shows the unsuccessful pass positioning matrix for the Pride's 5 starting midfielders.


The Pride defended well all over the field


I've already kind of touched on what a good job Orlando did defensively. The team utilised a low-block, which was designed to keep the ball in front of the defence, which then allowed the midfielders to drop in and get into the faces of the likes of Taylor Kornieck and Emily van Egmond. There's a great example of this in figure 2. The defence holds a great line, and Listro is able to win the ball as San Diego attempt to shift possession from side to side.


The Pride didn't press particularly high, but that didn't seem to be the game plan. If you look at the graphic in figure 3, you'll see they were winning the ball mostly in the middle and defensive thirds. The back line's shape was excellent all match (figure 4). It was a pleasing set up. It didn't necessarily invite pressure, it pretty much said 'OK, you have the ball in front of us. That's fine, you're not going anywhere. And when the ball comes lose, we're gonna hit you in transition'. Aside from a few Morgan sighters at goal, the Pride were pretty comfortable.


Figure 2 is a game still from the second half.


Figure 3 shows Orlando's tackle (green) and recovery (blue) positioning matrix, whole 90.


Figure 4 is a game still from the second half.



Top player


Meggie Dougherty-Howard



Dougherty-Howard had a very good game and was unlucky not to score a first-half free-kick in addition to her penalty. She completed 27 of her 31 passes, had 42 touches whilst creating 2 chances. She also did a fair amount of defensive work, making 2 recoveries, winning 2 ground duels and making 2 clearances. She had a fotmob.com rating of 7.6. Seems to be really enjoying her football right now.



Player ratings


Starting XI


McLeod -7- Dependable as ever between the sticks.


Jimenez -7- Was very solid in 1 v 1 situations.

Montefusco -8- Probably one of her best games for the Pride.

Pressley -7- Commanding presence at the back.

Strom -7- Reliable as ever.


Tymrak -7- Was always looking to create.

Dougherty-Howard -8- Great to see her get on the scoresheet.

Listro -7- Broke up play and anchored the midfield well.

Villacorta -7- Took care of possession well.

Abello -7- Did a great job defensively and offensively.


Doyle -6- Quite game, but was full of running.


Substitutes


Jenkins -6- Didn’t have a whole lot to go off as the game wore on.

Jonsdottir -6- Helped to see the game out.

Cluff -7- Had a few promising moments.

Pruitt -6- Excited to see her back


Reaction


Acting Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines:

“[The win] was massive. We’re running out of games, as we’re coming toward the end of the season. I’ve said from the start we are reaching to get to the playoffs and it’s important that we start picking up wins and three points, and what a better way to do it than a one-nil win away from home? I’ll keep saying it, we have to keep this momentum going, we have to look at the next game. Obviously enjoy the moment right now but we’re looking forward to Gotham to try to get three points away from home again.”




*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and nwslsoccer.com.

Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Highlights video courtesy of NWSL/CBS.

Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.

Game stills courtesy of NWSL.