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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Racing Louisville (h). Orlando Go Top With Hard Fought Win.

The Force will be with us. Always.

That much was evident last night. It was far from a vintage performance from Seb Hines' team. A third game in 10 days meant there were plenty of tired legs as the game worn on. But still, the mental fortitude and resilience shown to grind out a win against a good opponent cannot be understated.

Despite the lethargy and tiredness' best efforts, Orlando managed the game well. They kept things tight and didn't over commit in transition. As a result they limited Racing Louisville to long range efforts and half chances.

Orlando were very disciplined. Tactically, Seb Hines got everything spot on. The Pride started with a back four, which was fluid as the defenders took turns driving the ball into midfield. Hines then switched to a back 3 later in the game, recognising the toll the heavy schedule was taking on his players. This ensured the Pride has plenty behind the ball to repel an onslaught that never really came.

This is the sort of game, that separates the challengers from the pretenders. It was a scrappy affair. It was bitty, there weren't any particularly stunning passages of play from either side. It was a physical game. A battle.

But what Orlando has, in abundance I might add, was control. They were well organized, disciplined even. They made sure they won the physical battle and never allowed Racing, who had, had the week off, to build up ahead of steam.

Midfield control

Haley McCutcheon and Ally Lemos were very good at ensuring the Pride kept possession during key moments. What often happened, when Orlando built from the back, was the defenders were taking it in turns to step into midfield and assist with the build. It wasn't just the full-backs, who both inverted and operated as auxiliary midfielders for much of the game. But Rafaelle and Kylie Strom were both stepping into midfield and starting the build.

With Lemos (5 recoveries) and McCutcheon (2 recoveries) mopping everything up and recycling possession well with and 84% and 79% pass completion rate respectively, Orlando had control of the midfield. As a result Marisa DiGrande and Taylor Flint weren't able to create much with only 10 passes into the final third and Elexa Bahr only having 37 touches of the ball. Kayla Fischer had to drop deep to get the ball, with only 1 of her 59 touches being in the Pride penalty area.

Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.

Figure 2 is a game still from the first half.

Banda and Watt

Sounds like a troublesome duet... That's because they are. They're going to be the Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2 of the NWSL. Just causing carnage and destruction wherever they go. Their pace, their ability to run the channels, take on defenders and score...

It's a very promising partnership thus far. Banda is already on 4 goals for the season. It's remarkable how well she has taken to life in the NWSL. She's scoring goals, she is playing with a smile on her face. Banda had 10 touches in the penalty area (figure 3).

I get the impression she isn't fully at her best yet. Which is frightening to think, really.

Exciting times ahead.

Figure 3 shows some of Banda's key attacking statistics, whole 90.

Top player

Ally Lemos

If you were watching this game as an NWSL newbie, you'd no idea this was her full professional debut. She was a big part of Orlando being able to control the midfield in the way that they did. Banda will steal the headlines, and rightly so. But don't doubt what Lemos bought to this performance. Outstanding.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Moorhouse -6- Makes me nervous.

Strom -7- Solid performance.

Rafaelle -7- Excellent distribution.

Madrid -7- Peach of a cross for the goal.

Abello -7- Got forward well.

Lemos -8- Excellent debut.

McCutcheon -7- Assured presence.

Yates -7- Always trying to make things happen.

Doyle -7- Full of running.

Watt -8- Lively.

Banda -8- A real handful.


Lawrence -6- Came in to see the game out.

Dyke -7- Solid half.

Adriana -7- Livened things up after halftime.

Gautrat -7- Disciplined.

Allen -7- Showed some good touches.


Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines 

“I think today was a tough game obviously with the quick turnaround and everything that we put into Wednesday. Their emotions and all that we had to go through after Wednesday, and then just to turn around against a good Louisville team who had a week to prepare for this game with a lot of energy you could see towards the end. The players were on their last legs, but I can't say enough compliments for them. To have that grit, that determination, the attitude, the mentality to see the game out and walk away with three points and end the week with nine points in three games. I'm really, really proud of all the efforts that they put into it.” 

*All statistics courtesy of Fotmob.

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

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

Game stills courtesy of NWSL+.


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