When? Saturday September 11, 4 p.m. PT, 7 p.m. ET and 00:00 BST (12/9).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on Paramount+ for residents of the United States, and on Twitch (twitch.tv and via the app) for international supporters.
The Orlando Pride return to action against Racing Louisville on what promises to be an emotional occasion. With the game taking place on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11, it's undoubtedly a day to take stock and reflect on that devastating tragedy. The important thing, for the Orlando Pride players, will be to overcome and manage the emotions of the occasion. After all, this is a vitally important match for Orlando in terms of their pursuit of a play-off place.
Make no mistake about it, this has to be a 3 point game for Orlando. The race for the top 6 is hotting up, with only 7 points separating the 2nd placed North Carolina Courage and the 8th placed Houston Dash. It couldn't be much tighter than it is. A win could potentially increase the Pride's current 3 point cushion, and could all but seal Louisville's fate in terms of their ability to make the play-offs. There is a lot riding on this game, and as such it promises to be a cracking affair.
Racing Louisville's style
Racing Louisville... Where to begin? It's fair to say this has been a memorable maiden campaign for the Kentucky based outfit... And not for the correct reasons. Head coach Christy Holly was ousted amidst bullying allegations, their leadership (I'm looking at you Brad Estes) seems to think it's OK to completely disregard the views of autistic opponents. Believe me, as an autistic children's support worker, that is not OK. It's been a tumultuous debut season, and that's before we even mention the Christen Press and Tobin Heath drama.
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This a team that's still finding its feet on the field too. They have had more than a few teething problems, particularly defensively. Only Kansas City has conceded more than Louisville's 24 goals. They also have the second lowest XG rating in the league, with 0.64 (figure 1) and by some distance the highest XGa rating at 1.67 (figure 2).
This is a team that plays in transition, but if I'm being brutally honest, they haven't done it well. Last time out, against OL Reign, they posted a passing accuracy rate of 67.8% (figure 3). Which is on brand with their overall passing accuracy rate of 75.1% for the season. Their passing accuracy, in the opposing half, is one of the worst in the league at 63%, which has them ranked 8/10. Which is surprising when you consider the quality of the likes of Nadia Nadim and Yuki Nagasato. If Orlando make their recoveries count, and press as well as they can do, it could be a profitable evening for the Pride.
Figure 1 shows Louisville's low XG rating (and ours, shhh, also please ignore Seattle Reign... Don't think FootyStats.org knows that's not it anymore).
Figure 2 shows Louisville's poor XGa rating.
Figure 3 shows Louisville's passing statistics (left) from the match against OL Reign.
Racing Louisville are in the unique position of having a clean bill of health for this game, at least according to the NWSL injury report. There are also no suspensions, with Savannah McCaskill being the only one nearly at a yellow card accumulation suspension with 4 bookings on the season so far.
EDIT: The NWSL injury report, as far as Louisville is concerned, has been edited as of 9/10/2021. See graphic below:
The NWSL injury report has nothing listed for the Orlando Pride. However, there are still doubts over the fitness of Alex Morgan, Carrie Lawrence and Jade Moore. Although, Lawrence and Morgan have both been training this week. Ashlyn Harris is also a doubt for this match, following her neck injury last week. Harris, like Lawrence and Morgan, has been training, though. The team are hopeful Courtney Petersen will be involved, but will face late fitness checks. Parker Roberts could feature.
Possible starting XI
I don't think we'll see a huge amount of change for this squad. They have a 26 woman strong squad, but they aren't known for making wholesale changes. Ebony Salmon gave us some grief last time, so I'd be surprised if she didn't come back in. Her pace could cause Orlando issues. I think Louisville will line-up, as follows, in their favoured diamond formation:
At one point, Nadim was one of the greatest players on the planet. Which is remarkable when you consider her personal journey. Having been born in Afghanistan, and having to flee the country as a very young refugee, she went on to represent her adoptive nation of Denmark. The attacker has scored 38 goals in 98 games for the Danes and has represented the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain with distinction. No stranger to this league, having had a hugely successful 2 season spell with Portland following an earlier spell with Sky Blue, she's started well this time around. Nadim has already notched 3 goals and 1 assist in 7 games, following her arrival in June. Quality player.
Racing Louisville head into this match in something of a dry run of form. Louisville are winless in 5, and have only won 1 of their last 10. Their 4-5-8 record would have them dead last save for Kansas City.
The Pride, meanwhile, have yet to win under Becky Burleigh at home. Their 2 recent away wins have elevated them to 4th in the standings. The Pride are 6-7-5 on the season so far.
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