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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Portland Thorns (h). Orlando Stretch To A Record 8 Wins With Victory Over Portland.

What a time to be alive.


What a time.


Another accomplished performance from Seb Hines' team as they sealed their position at the summit of the NWSL table for another week at least. They had to ride their luck at times, particularly after the visitors clawed one back, but were good value for the win overall. Orlando were all over Portland until that point and probably should have been out of sight.


This was a real statement win for the Pride. We have a wretched record against the Thorns, so it was important to go some way towards putting that to bed.


All that being said, winning 8 games on the bounce... It's an incredible achievement. Not to mention an NWSL record.



This is a team that continues to go from strength to strength. The chemistry on the field continues to grow, as several key players hit top form. Marta was inspired. Barbra Banda was just lethal. Julie Doyle, Adrianna, Kerry Abello were all electric. I could go on.

Defensively, the Pride are well organised and resolute. This was one of those games where everyone was at least a 7 out of 10. We now have a run of 4 games against teams lower down the standings, before we face Kansas City Current on the eve of the break for the inaugural NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup.


There's a real opportunity for the Pride to establish a firm stranglehold on the top spot.


A dominant attacking display


This was a dominant display, make no mistake. I know the concession made things nervy for the last 20 or so minutes, but this night was all about the Orlando Pride. The night may have been akin to a Tatooine summer, with temperatures soaring, even by central Floridian standards.


As such Portland were left feeling the heat in more ways than one. The Pride had a total of 22 shots, creating 4 big chances in the process. They could have been out of sight long before the Thorns hauled themselves back into the contest.


I thought Marta was excellent, she took up some great spots in between the lines. The movement ahead of her, particularly from Banda, Watt and Doyle was phenomenal. All 3 were great at providing supporting runs that opened up the backline of Portland, stretching them and putting them on the back foot (figures 1 & 2).


Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.


Figure 2 is a game still from the first half.


Direct style


The Pride were quick off the mark in key moments of transition. We've seen a lot of that this season. The Pride have pace to burn with Banda, Doyle et al, so can afford to hit teams in transition. It's effective and good to watch.

The Pride are happy to allow possession; Portland had 55% of the ball. But when you have a compact defensive shape and a lot of quick players in forward and wide areas, it works well. Portland had the lions share of the possession, but Orlando had double the amount of touches in the opposition box with 42. Portland had a bit more of the ball, but Orlando had far more of it in dangerous areas. That's why the way Seb Hines' team are playing is so effective.


I think the Pride are going to be difficult to live with this season. I know it's easy to get carried away, but I honestly don't see anyone stopping them right now.


Top player


Barbra Banda


She was only on the field for 45 minutes, which the Thorns defence were no doubt pleased about. Two proper strikers goals from the Zambian. She had 23 touches, 10 in the opposition box and chalked up 4 shots. She's an absolute beast and only an idiot would bet vehemently against her to win the golden boot.


Player ratings


Starting XI


Moorhouse -7- Was quite dependable.


Sams -7- Solid.

Strom -7- Led the defence well.

Rafaelle -7- Mountainous.

Abello -8- Dynamic performance.


McCutcheon -7- Worked tirelessly.

Gautrat -7- Always looked for a progressive past.

Marta -9- Top drawer.


Banda -9- Monster.

Adriana -8- Ran tirelessly.

Doyle -7- Made plenty of positive runs.


Substitutes


Watt -7- Ran tirelessly.

Dyke -6- Good for her to get another run out.

Martinez -7- Looked bright.

Lemos -6- Came on too late.

Allen -6- Came on too late.


Reaction


Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines


It’s a great feeling. I'll be honest, it'll probably be short lived because we have bigger goals we’ve set this season and objectives that we want to reach this season. But of course, it’s a nice feeling. It’s great to do it in front of our fans, our home fans who supported us through the tough times and we’re rewarding them for their support by having this record, setting a record for the NWSL. A lot of the credit has to go to the players and the support staff, because without them we wouldn't have achieved this today. It’s a great feeling, but we have other things we want to aspire to.”



*All statistics courtesy of Fotmob.

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

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

Game stills courtesy of NWSL+.

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