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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Washington Spirit (a). Banda Off The Mark In Vital Road Win.

The Orlando Pride are looking every inch a team that can compete for honours in the NWSL this season.


Yes, you read that correctly.


I know it's still very much early doors, but this team is really clicking as an offensive unit. Barbra Banda getting her first goal for the club is huge. When you make a big name signing like the Zambian international forward, you want her to hit the ground running because it helps with her overall integration to the team. She will be feeling confident after this game. She took her goal well and did well to draw the foul for the penalty.


Washington may have had more of the ball. As a result the Spirit put a fair bit of pressure on the Pride's goal. The Pride defended well, even if goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse had a bit of a nightmare between the sticks. The Pride were able to soak up the pressure at key teams and hurt the Spirit on the break.



Whilst we're only 6 games into a 26 game regular season, the Pride are one of only 3 teams who are unbeaten so far and have established themselves amongst the early pacesetters in the league.


It's hard not to be optimistic at this point.

It's time to change goalkeepers


I'm sorry, but it is. Two horrendous errors from Moorhouse almost cost the team a vital 3 points. For the first goal, she just makes Ouleymata Sarr's mind up for her. She's caught in no man's land (figure 1). If Moorhouse doesn't trust her defenders to deal with the threat of Sarr she needs to charge out and smother that ball. She has to either stay on her line and let the defenders deal with it, whilst trying to narrow the angle as much as possible, or she smothers it. She does neither and just stands in the middle, meaning the chip was not only possible, but difficult to miss.


No graphics or metrics are necessary for the second goal, which led to an unnecessarily nervy finish. Moorhouse allowed the ball to slip through he fingers, due to a combination of poor positioning and poor handling.


It's time to make a change.


Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.


This attack is really starting to click


Whilst it's true that they have yet to fully hit their stride (the Pride have only scored 9 times through 6 games), there are obvious signs that things are starting to click into place. Barbra Banda was outstanding on her full debut. Her movement for the opener was quality, as was her delivery into the box. The ball was perfect and ultimately did all the work for Angelina. The Brazilian showed tremendous technique in just cushioning the ball towards goal on the half volley.


The Pride have needed to be more clinical; they rank second in the NWSL for big chances missed with 11 and 3rd for touches in the opposition box with 149 (figures 2 & 3). They definitely found a more clinical edge in this game, scoring 3 times.


Orlando has a stacked roster, particularly in the final third. Having Summer Yates, Julie Doyle and Banda would be enough to make most NWSL clubs green with envy, but when you consider Ally Watt, Mariana Larroquette, Adriana, Simone Charley (SEI) and MARTA were all absent for one reason or another... Well.


Figure 2 shows Orlando's overall ranking for big chances missed in the NWSL.


Figure 3 shows Orlando's overall ranking for touches in the opposition box.


Top player


Angelina


As well as her very well taken goals, Angelina caught my eye with how she basically ran the game from midfield. I thought she was excellent, recycling possession and breaking up opposition attacks; she made 3 recoveries, 3 clearances and 1 interception. She was always open for a pass and looking to play the ball forward.

Player ratings


Starting XI


Moorhouse -3- Had a bit of a stinker.


Martinez -7- Took one for the team late on.

Rafaelle -7- Commanding presence.

Sams -6- Was a little off the pace.

Strom -7- Solid defending one v one.


Abello -7- Worked tirelessly.

McCutcheon -7- Further underlined her versatility.

Yates -7- Linked play well.

Angelina -9- Ran the game from midfield.

Doyle -7- Ran the line well.


Banda -9- Excellent performance.


Substitutes


Watt -6- Provided fresh energy.

Lawrence -7- Great to have her back.

Dyke -6- Positive debut.

Jimenez -6- Came in late.


Reaction


Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines


"(The final whistle was) more relief than anything. If we dissect the game, although we took the lead, I thought we started slow. We didn’t really start [like] ourselves. We were very lethargic, I thought Washington started on the front foot, putting us under real pressure. We didn’t really get any rhythm in the game but it’s a great ball from Barbra [Banda] to Ang[elina] and it’s a great finish. Then I think the disappointing part from our side is that we gifted them two goals today. In this league, you can’t give teams goals because they’ll punish you. So it’s a good reminder that we have to keep our standards high, stick to who we are and stick to our identity. I’m super proud of the players, to not only see the game out at 3-2, but with 10 players. It shows another side to our game. So I’m super proud of them and their efforts and everything they put in today.”




*All statistics courtesy of Fotmob.

Game still courtesy of NWSL+.

Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando Pride.

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

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