My Top 10 Orlando Pride Moments
Updated: Jul 16
1. The signing of Alex Morgan
Alex Morgan's signing was perhaps the most significant moment in the club's short history. This club has only been around since 2016, and so garnering interest and support was always going to be a vital first step for the team. And there was certainly no better way to do that, than signing one of the world's best and most popular players. And the gambit certainly paid off, at least in the short term. The team were able to attract 23,403 fans for their inaugural home game against the Houston Dash. Morgan got off the mark that day, before going on to register 4 goals in 15 appearances with 1 assist, as the Pride faltered in their debut season in NWSL. 2017, however was much more fruitful with Morgan registering 9 goals from 14 appearances as the team chalked up their first and only play off appearance to date. The USWNT legend continues to be a popular figure on and off the field, with the class Morgan 13 jersey continuing to be the most popular game day jersey.
2. The signing of the GOAT
The capture of the world's most decorated female player definitely raised a few eyebrows back in 2017. Marta Vieira da Silva, 6 time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year is arguably the greatest player the women's game has ever seen. And it's difficult to argue that she has been anything but a success in purple, even if her teammates haven't always been able to match up to that. She notched 13 goals in her debut season, and has added 10 more since then despite missing a large chunk of 2019 due to the World Cup. Overall the talismanic Brazilian has totalled 23 goals across 53 appearances in Orlando. The playmaker will continue to be a vital component for the Pride heading into 2020 (when we eventually get underway), despite her years.
3. Carson Pickett meets a young fan
This was one of the most touching, and heart warming moments of the season in my opinion. It was a moment that garnered a lot of international attention across the game and showed us all how this wonderful sport is such a powerful tool for unity. Something that is so important in an increasingly divided world. Joseph was born without a left hand and left forearm, just like Pickett. And when he first saw her play, he saw someone just like him. And as someone who works with children and as a parent myself, I just felt it was such a beautiful moment that further highlights how sport can be used to inspire and to break down barriers.
4. First goal! Steph Catley v the Thorns
Highlights of the Pride's inaugural game in the NWSL, including the Pride's first ever goal scored by Steoh Catley.
Ah, Steph Catley... They were the good ol' days. The Matilda was an immensely popular player during her time in Orlando, and she got off to a great start with this strike. The goal won't and didn't win any awards. It was a free-kick on he right hand edge of the box, that the Australian drilled low in to the box, evading everyone and nestling into the bottom corner. It was a bit of a fluke to be quite frank. It wasn't show real worthy, but the the first goal for any franchise is always a memorable one. And for that reason, Carley's effort makes the list.
5. First win! 3-1 vs the Dash at home
The Orlando Pride's first home, game their first win and it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to call it one of the biggest wins in club history. As mentioned previously, over 23,000 packed into Camping World Stadium that day to witness a famous win. Lioness Lianne Sanderson and Alex Morgan were both on the scoresheet that day in front of a bumper crowd. An unfortunate own goal opened the scoring, before a quickly taken free-kick from Sanderson to make it 2-0. Alex Morgan then got in the act, slotting home following a great cut-back from Steph Catley. This game was the culmination of months of build-up, the crowd was at fever pitch for pretty much the entire game. For many, this game was the start of their Orlando Pride love affair and was something of a watershed moment for women's soccer in Orlando.
Highlights of Orlando Pride's maiden win in the NWSL from 2016.
6. A win in Portland! 2-1 in 2018
This is probably my favourite ever win. It was made all the more sweet by the fact that I was watching live in the small hours of the morning. And Alex Morgan and Christine Nairn were on the scoresheet for the Pride that day in what amounted to a famous old win against a very talented Thorns team. Portland have been a constant thorn in Orlando's side (pun intended), so any win in their own backyard has to be savoured. For that reason this game makes the list.
7. 3-1 home win over the Courage in 2017
Another famous win against an NWSL powerhouse in at number 7, this time it was the North Carolina Courage that the Pride were able to put to the sword. Chi Ubogagu, Camila and Jasmine Spencer were the scorers that day. For me the 2017 team was the best side we've had so far. Marta and Alex Morgan were in top form, and the team were scoring goals all over the field. And this win was reminiscent of that.
Highlights of the Pride's memorable 3-1 win over the Courage.
8. Emily Sonnett's signing in 2020
Now, you might think this one is a big call. Dare I say even an outlandish one. But I really do believe that Emily Sonnett's signing is that huge. This is something I have spoken to before. I believe she is going to be vital in not only shoring up the Pride's porous defence, but also in revolutionising the culture of the team on and off the field. Sonnett is a leader and a winner, as well as being a model of consistency in the defensive third of the field. She is great in the air, positionally astute and solid in the tackle. She is also someone who is adept at bringing the ball out from the centre of the defence, which will allow the team to play further up the pitch. I genuinely believe she is going to be a top signing, and I am willing to hang my hat on that.
9. First (and only) play off appearance
I mean, what can I say? Play-offs aren't something we are used to in Orlando. City have never made the MLS play-offs, and the Pride have only done so once. Whilst 2017 ended in heart ache after a 3rd place finish and ultimate play off defeat, that season helped to establish the team in the hearts of Orlando's soccer fan base. And it's left us all wanting more. Could 2020 be our year? It might just be, assuming Covid-19 quarantines itself at some point so that the season can actually take place.
10. A big win in the windy city 5-2 against Chicago in 2018
Highlights of the memorable 5-2 win in Chicago from 2018.
This win might be another surprise inclusion to some. Ordinarily it'd be correct to assume any 3 goal win on the road is fairly comfortable, even a 5-2 win where you seemingly give the opposition a sniff. This was anything but a one-sided affair. It was a master class in ruthless finishing and game management. It was a masterful away performance, and one that we have seen all too few of. It was honestly one of my favourite ever away performances, and not just for the Pride. It feels like a great way to round out this list.
So there they are, my top 10 Orlando Pride moments. Let me know about your favourite moments via the usual channels!