Preview: Racing Louisville (h).
Updated: Jul 9, 2021
When? Friday July 9, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and 00:00 BST (10/7).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast domestically and internationally on Twitch (via the Twitch app and at Twitch.tv).
The Orlando Pride, arguably, have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from the weekend and halt their current slide. A game against Louisville, in Orlando, could be just the tonic. Louisville are a dangerous side, but one that can be beaten. Marc Skinner will want to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible, and I believe this is a great opportunity to do just that. The North Carolina Courage are away, at the Washington Spirit, so there's every chance they could drop points there. This weekend represents a great opportunity for Orlando to get back on top.
So, without further ado let's get stuck into this intriguing fixture.
Don't let Louisville's seemingly lowly position in the standings fool you, this will be another tough match. Louisville have struggled for goals so far this season, having only scored 6 and with an XG rating of 0.54. The stats only tell you so much, however. This is a team with quality in forward areas, that can hurt you. The likes of Emina Ekic, Lauren Milliet and Ebony Salmon can all cause damage. They've just yet to really click, as a team. Like the Pride, they're a team that utilises a direct style of play (figure 1), averaging around 360 passes per game, with 42.6% of those being forward balls. You won't see any tiki taka style play from Louisville. They're not afraid to sling crosses into the box either, averaging 10.6 per game.
It's making these forward passes and crosses pay, that's been the real issue. With 50 total shots on the season, and only 6 goals, their 12% conversion rate (figure 2) is among the lowest in the league. Ebony Salmon could boost those statistics, though. After only 2 starts, and 2 substitute appearances, her 2 goals from 7 shots means she has the best conversion rate of any Louisville forward at 28.6%. If she carries on at that rate, she'll comfortably reach double figures on the season.
Figure 1 shows Louisville's passing statistics on the season so far.
Figure 2 shows Louisville's conversion statistics.
Louisville have a couple of injury concerns, heading into this game. Noelle Higginson remains out with her knee injury. Cece Kizer and Taylor Otto are both listed as questionable. Their absentee list is far from disastrous.
The same cannot be said of the Orlando Pride, however. The Pride will be missing a number of players due to injury and international duty. This game will likely come too soon for Jodie Taylor and possibly Kylie Strom. Amy Turner may get the nod at centre back. Alex Morgan, Erin McLeod and Marta are all Tokyo bound, but Ali Riley isn't due to meet up with New Zealand yet, so is available. Jade Moore and Marisa Viggiano are both set to sit this one out. Phoebe McClernon and Taylor Kornieck are both listed as questionable. EDIT: There's been a further update on Ali Krieger. She had been expected to be involved, but Orlando are set to be cautious with her return and will wait till game day to make a ruling.
Possible starting XI
I don't expect to see heavy rotation, particularly following on from an almost full rest week. Louisville are sweating on the fitness of Cece Kizer, so I can see Emina Ekic coming in. Other than that, I think it'll be the same team that faced Portland:
The former Bristol City striker has wasted no time making an impact in this league. The England hopeful got the game winner against Houston, and also scored against the Red Stars. Her record now reads 2 goals in 2 starts and 2 substitute appearances. Salmon is building on her impressive 2020-21 season in the FAWSL, where she cored 6 goals and tallied 1 assist in a poor Bristol City team. The Birmingham born, former Manchester United forward has a great first touch, and a keen eye for goal. At only 20-years-old she's only going to get better. A former England youth international, she made her debut for the senior Lionesses squad in February. Salmon is a star of the future, that Orlando will need to keep a close eye on in this game.
Louisville come into this game in reasonable form overall. Their 3-4-1 record has them sat 8th, on 10 points. Last time out, Louisville suffered an unfortunate 0-2 defeat to the Thorns. Prior to that, Louisville had won 2 of their last 4 games. They've yet to find true consistency, but have shown some positive signs.
Orlando, meanwhile, come into this game off the back of 2 consecutive defeats. Their 4-3-2 record has them sat 2nd in the table. Prior to their mini slump Orlando went 7 unbeaten. The Pride will be hoping to start a similar run in this game, to take back top spot.
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