Analysis: Washington Spirit (a). Pride Claim Huge Three Points On The Road.
Updated: Jul 3
It's been an inconsistent spell of games for the Pride, to say the very least. A run of 1 win in 5 has left them precariously positioned in terms of the overall NWSL play-off hunt. Whilst the team remain 4 points adrift, the momentum has, again, swung in their favour with this result.
No one could argue that this wasn't a deserved win for the Pride, as they dominated this contest from the first whistle to the last. Julie Doyle was at the centre of everything positive the Pride did going forward, but there were strong performances all over the field during a rambunctious display of counter attacking football.
This display was a huge improvement on recent performances. Something which was highlighted by Seb Hines during the post-match:
"Tonight, was more about ourselves. We needed to have a reaction after the last two defeats. Recently, we haven't been ourselves and going to an environment like Washington, it’s difficult, of course. But, we wanted to come here with loads of energy, loads of desire, commitment, and put a real good performance together for our fans, because they deserve it. The players know it, as well, we haven't been ourselves. Go back to our identity and when we show what we're capable of doing, that's where you get your success. So I was really pleased with, the not just the goals, but their overall performance and their attitude leading into this game.”
With a tough game against OL Reign coming up before the Pride's run in the Challenge Cup, this performance was just what the doctor ordered.
Transition game was key
This wasn't a game that the Pride dominated in the traditional sense, with possession and so on. But in transition, they were excellent. The second goal is a prime example, with Messiah Bright picking up the ball in midfield before working the ball wide, via Erika Tymrak, for Julie Doyle to cut in and clip the ball in towards the back post (figure 1).
For the Pride, it was all about taking advantage of those key moments that allowed them to get up the pitch and put the ball into good areas.
What I thought was interesting was that the Pride were almost happy to let the Spirit have the ball, particularly in their first and middle thirds. But then, as soon as the Spirit hit a stray pass, the Pride were all over it. They didn't let up. It was a like a jackboot to the throat (I'll be REALLY impressed if you get that particular Star Wars reference) for the Spirit.
The Pride made excellent recoveries, at key times, all over the pitch (figure 2). And when they did recover the ball, they were devastating in attack. They could easily have scored 4 or 5 times, with the majority of their 12 efforts at goal coming from within the Spirit penalty area (figure 3).
Figure 1 is a clip showing the Pride's second goal.
Figure 2 shows the Pride's recovery positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows the Pride's shot positioning matrix, whole 90.
As for the other end of the field, well the Pride gave them nothing. It's worth noting that this was a Washington attack sans Ashley Sanchez and Trinity Rodman, but it still had Ashley Hatch. And the Pride really restricted the Spirit, particularly before the interval where the home side could only muster 3 shots on goal (figure 4).
Everyone on the Pride performed well defensively, Mikayla Cluff covered a lot of ground in midfield, winning 4 of her 5 tackles and making 6 recoveries. Similarly Vivianna Villacorta (2 tackles and 7 recoveries) and Kerry Abello (2 tackles and 9 recoveries). The defensive unit were also well organised, and generally didn't give the Spirit an inch. It wasn't until the 3rd goal went in, that the Spirit started to cause the Pride any issues... And the game was gone by then.
Figure 4 shows Washington's shot positioning matrix, first 45.
Doyle, due to the nature of the Pride's gameplan, wasn't able to get on the ball as much as she liked, but when she did she was devastating with it. Both finishes were top drawer. I really like the second one, as she just puts the ball into an area where any touch and it's a goal. No touch, and it's still a goal. It's a really good finish/cross, depending on your point of view.
Moorhouse -6- Could've sat on her hands for most of this game.
McCutcheon -7- Got up and down really well.
Madril -8- Solid as a rock.
Montefusco -8- Led the line well.
Strom -7- Really clever cross for the first goal.
Cluff -8- Did the dirty stuff well.
Villacorta -7- Looked after the ball well.
Abello -7- Unlucky not to get a goal herself.
Doyle -9- Big performance.
Bright -8- A handful all evening.
Tymrak -8- Filled in for Marta well.
Watt -7- Telling contribution for the third goal.
Jimenez -7- Helped shore things up.
Allen -6- Late run out.
Martinez -6- Same as Allen.
Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines
"You know, I'm pretty demanding. I'll push the players’ limits on the field and if they give absolutely everything, leave everything on the field, you can't ask more from them. And that's what they showed today. They showed that they're capable of competing at the highest level, competing against a good team. And when you do that, you get your success, and you get your win. And now I'm really pleased for them because it's not easy in this league, anyone can beat anyone, and when you have the right attitude, and right desire, commitment, you give yourself a chance of winning the game.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Gameplay footage courtesy of NWSL/CBS Sports.
Media availability footage and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.