• Dan Berridge

Analysis: Washington Spirit (h). Plenty Of Positives For Cromwell, As Pride Battle To Draw.

First of all, I just want to start this piece by saying one thing. Gay. I am more than a little disturbed by the lack of response from the club, in relation to the Black Swans Drinking Club's statement. The club have gotten this one wrong. There are all sorts of league rules that have to be traversed with this sort of thing, but that's irrelevant to me. It's more important to do the right thing. Which this club has done well in the past and I'm sure will continue to in the future. Hopefully lessons can be learned here.


Amidst all of that controversy, it'd be easy to forget there was a football match taking place. It was a match that showed Pride fans there is certainly plenty to be optimistic about with this team.

It wasn't the most assured start to the game, but the Pride certainly grew into the affair, and were perhaps a little unfortunate not to take all 3 points. A draw with the reigning champions is a credible start to the challenge cup; it's a result this team can take a lot of confidence from.


The performances of Carrie Lawrence and Courtney Petersen


Both players acquitted themselves marvelously. Petersen's worth to this squad is well known, however fans may not be as well versed on Carrie Lawrence's attributes. The youngster has always had potential, but the presence of Ali Riley in 2021 limited Lawrence's game time significantly. Lawrence looks likely to be given the chance to prove her worth in 2022. When I quizzed her on Lawrence's performance, Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell said Lawrence was the player who has surprised her the most. Cromwell spoke about Lawrence in glowing terms (see video asset in the 'Reaction' section).


Cromwell spoke glowingly of the right-backs' performance. And it was easy to see why; Lawrence had 4 tackles, 62 touches and completed 75.8% of her 33 passes. She was stellar, particularly when you consider she was up against Trinity Rodman and Ashley Sanchez.

Lawrence played a vital role in the Pride's ability to keep the chains moving, getting up and down the right very well (figure 1). She got up in support of the attack well. For example, in figure 2, she charges down the right looking for the clipped ball from Amy Turner. She did this all evening, but never neglected her defensive responsibilities. Her defensive positioning was excellent throughout the match, even during those moments where the onus wasn't on her (figure 3). Her concentration was superb. Top drawer performance.

Figure 1 shows Carrie Lawrence's pass positioning matrix (🟥 unsuccessful/🟩 successful), whole 90.

Figure 2 is a game still from the second half.

Figure 3 is a game still from the second half.


Petersen was equally impressive; she had 56 touches, made 30 passes (73.3% pass completion), made 4 tackles and hit 1 shot. She's relentless down the left. I know she's accomplished in midfield, but left-back is by far her best position. She operates more effectively running into the space. Take the example in figure 4; Petersen attacks the space. She doesn't end up hitting a cross but she's able to provide an avenue and keep Orlando in possession. In midfield she has her back to goal too often, which is entirely different to running into space.

Figure 4 is a game still from the second half.


Amanda Cromwell has been quite open about wanting to use the ball well in possession. In modern day soccer full-backs are an increasingly important commodity in that regard. Expect that to be the case for Orlando this year.


Darian Jenkins


Jenkins was another huge plus point for the Pride. Jenkins' movement was excellent. She was always looking to stretch the play and was perhaps unfortunate not to get off the mark; the striker hit 3 shots, with 1 being on frame. Jenkins is a striker who isn't afraid to shoot on sight (figure 5). She was unlucky not to loop a well placed header over the 'keeper in the first half, before flashing a long range drive wide of the goal moments later.


At times in 2021, the Pride's forward movement was far too static. Alex Morgan is more of a poacher; she's never been great at running the channels. Jenkins is a different breed of striker. The former UCLA forward is athletic, fast and strong. She is also technically very skilful, which makes her ideal to run left, right and stretch the play. She also seems like she has the anticipation to move intelligently in the area. I think Jenkins will score goals for Orlando, I've no doubt about that.

Erin McLeod


There was hysteria when the news of Ashlyn Harris' departure broke. And understandably so; she is one of the best goalkeepers in the game. However, Erin McLeod is very, very good. She wasn't overly worked here, but what she had to do, she did well. The Canadian was 4 for 4 on shots saved and claimed 2 crosses. We have no worries in the goalkeeper department.


Top player


Carrie Lawrence

Lawrence was absolutely outstanding in my eyes. We've already covered her pretty well, so there isn't too much else to say. All I'll say is, Carrie is cookin'.


Player ratings


Starting XI


McLeod -7- Solid as ever.


Petersen -7- Got up and down the field well, typical performance.

Turner -7- Solid, looks more comfortable.

Montefusco -7- Distribution was very useful.

Lawrence -8- Player of the match.


Marta -7- Flashes of real quality.

James -7- Welsh international has settled in well.

Jónsdóttir -7- Experienced performance.

Leroux -7- Linked up well with Jenkins at times.


Jenkins -7- Lively performance.

Cluff -7- Showed some real flashes of quality, just not consistently.


Substitutes


Roberts -6- Looked comfortable when she came in.

Strom -7- I liked the look of her in midfield.

Tymrak -7- Quickened up the pace of the game.

Dougherty-Howard -7- Thought she had made the breakthrough late on.


Reaction


Orlando Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell


"I’d say it was a roller coaster of a match, it didn’t start particularly well but we found our way into it. I think we ended the first half with some momentum and that kind of switched again to start the second half. Both teams you could see had tired legs early on. We’ve been training hard with high loads to build them up to 90 minutes, so we know because of that there were going to be some tired legs today, but then I think we got the momentum back with our substitutes. Our reserves came in and raised our level. We created some chances and I was really proud of the defensive effort. Erin [McLeod] came up with some saves when she needed to and it was interesting because I don’t think that game was necessarily a 0-0 game with the chances both teams created, but I always love getting the clean sheet.”


*All statistics courtesy of NWSLSoccer.com

Game stills courtesy of the NWSL/Twitch

B-roll and post game media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride

Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando Pride