Analysis: Racing Louisville (h). Orlando battle to last gasp draw.
The Orlando Pride showed their fighting spirit to earn a draw courtesy of Sydney Leroux, with one of the last kicks of the game. The important thing, for the Pride, is that they stopped the rot. Many, of an Orlando persuasion, would've been worried when Ebony Salmon raced through on goal and slid the ball past Ashlyn Harris. That feeling of 'here we go again' is one that Pride fans know all too well. However, the team again displayed a never say die attitude, and ultimately snatched a deserved point. Ashlyn Harris' deep cross into the box was, coolly, flicked into the net by Leroux. The point leaves Orlando in second, at the time of writing, though they could slip down as far as 4th by the end of the weekend.
We're all Washington Spirit this weekend, right?
Never say die attitude
It's becoming something of a trademark for this team. Whilst the lacklustre nature of their two recent defeats has left a bitter taste in the mouth, the attitude and application of this team cannot be questioned. On no less than 4 occasions, so far in the regular season, the Pride have come from behind to grab valuable points. This isn't a trait to be underestimated. There's no statistics or numerical algorithms that can quantify team chemistry and spirit. As frustrating as defeats can be, and I'll admit I'm probably chief among those that feel a certain amount of ire when the team doesn't pick up a dub, this team is new. We cannot forget that. This a club that went a whole calendar year without playing soccer in Orlando. I've seen calls for Skinner's head on the Twitterverse. Such calls are premature. Patience is needed.
The influence of Erika Tymrak
Tymrak may not have put up the most explosive numbers yesterday, but she added a new dimension to the offence with her movement when making those runs from deep. This is is evidenced in the chance she missed early on (figure 1). The ball is moved to the right flank, and Crystal Thomas cuts it back for Tymrak, who is only able to scoop it over the cross bar. It's not as easy a chance as it looks, but my point is she gets into those areas by timing her runs from deep. This is a player that scored 18 goals in 95 games for Kansas City from 2013-2017, a steady rate of a goal every 5.1 games. The goals may have dried up in Utah, but she definitely has that in her locker.
If you look at her pass positioning matrix (figure 2), you'll see what I mean about her movement being so good. She uses the ball well in midfield too, with a pass success rate of 72.7%. Most of her passes were in forward and wide positions too, where the risk factor is obviously higher. The presence of Gunny Jónsdóttir also allowed her more license to roam. As Tymrak builds up her minutes, I feel like she could really get some rhythm going in the final third for Orlando.
Figure 1 shows a clip of Tymrak's early chance.
Figure 2 shows Tymrak's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows Tymrak's overall statistics, whole 90.
Distribution from the back
One thing that was excellent, concerning the Pride's play on Friday evening, was their distribution from the back. Against teams like Louisville, there are going to be periods where you dominate the ball, as there were for periods of this game; particularly towards the end, as Orlando searched for an equaliser. Orlando were playing quite a high defensive line, which is risky when facing pace. Your passing from the back has to be on point, and it was in all fairness. Ali Krieger posted a pass completion rate of 76.8% from 56 passes, whilst Toni Pressley posted a pass success rate of 75.8% from 33 passes.
When you play a high defensive line, and you have 2 central defenders spraying the ball around like that, it almost enables them to act as a quarterback, allowing them to bypass the midfield, if needs be. If you look at the pass positioning matrix in figure 4, you'll see what I mean. Louisville were packing the midfield at times, so Krieger and Pressley were able to go long and wide, in order to stretch the play. It was an effective tactic, particularly as Louisville's defensive line dropped deeper. Orlando's defensive line were playing as a secondary midfield at times, particularly late on. This enabled them to pen Louisville in. The best example is actually the goal, albeit Harris assumes the mantle of quarterback on that play. Eat your heart out Tom Brady.
Figure 4 shows the pass positioning matrix for Krieger and Pressley.
Like all good strikers do, the forward kept getting herself into the right areas. And was rewarded with her 5th goal of the season, a goal that takes her joint top of the scoring charts. She was unlucky with a couple of headers prior to the goal, but was undeterred by that misfortune. The chance she scored is not an easy chance by any means. The ball bounces at an awkward height, and Leroux does well to catch the ball on her instep and divert it past Michelle Betos. In addition to her goal, Leroux was typically industrious throughout the evening. She posted an overall pass completion rate of 72.7%, from 22 passes (figure 5). This also included 2 key passes. Leroux is quickly pulling ahead in the race for Pride player of the season.
Figure 5 shows Sydney Leroux's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Harris -7- I mean, she saves goals and creates them. Is there anything this woman can't do? Riley -7- Solid performance from the experienced full-back, last one before Tokyo.
Krieger -7- Distributed the ball well from the back.
Pressley -7- As with Krieger, her distribution was excellent. Provided a springboard for the attack.
Petersen -7- Was heavily involved in the game, led the team in touches.
Tymrak -7- I thought her movement was excellent, and she was unlucky not to open her goal account.
Jónsdóttir -7- Marshalled the midfield well, and broke up play.
Dougherty-Howard -7- Recycled possession well, and was intelligent with her passing.
Kornieck -7- Did a lot of good defensive work. Cheeky free-kick, which deserved a goal.
Thomas -6- Defended well from the front, but didn't get on the ball enough for me.
Leroux -8- Kept getting into good positions and was duly rewarded.
Turner -7- Came in for half an hour, in place of Pressley and did really well.
Washington -6- Didn't get involved enough for me. Had plenty of time.
Kim -6- A few decent touches, but only touched the ball 6 times in 25 minutes.
Strom -6- Came in late, good for her to get her first appearance in.
Plummer -6- Came in very late, put herself about in the area and helped to cause confusion for the goal.
Game clips courtesy of Paramount+.
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