Preview: Racing Louisville (n).
Updated: Jul 2
When? Sunday July 3, 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. BST (4/7).
Where? Daytona Speedway, Daytona, FL.
How can I catch the action? For residents of North America, the game is being broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. Twitch for international supporters.
The Orlando Pride are taking part in Daytona Speedway's SoccerFest event. The event is designed to market the club and to showcase the talent in the NWSL. It probably couldn't be coming at a worse time though. The club is currently embroiled in something of an existential crisis, both on and off the field. And that's me being kind. It's actually a bloody mess. On the flip side, though, maybe a change of scene could do the team some good? Maybe. I don't know. Probably not.
I'm finding it very difficult to be optimistic about the Pride right now. Particularly after the Sydney Leroux trade. The Wilf family have put their trust in the wrong people. I believe Ian Fleming has a lot to answer for and his continued silence isn't helpful right now.
Somebody who should perhaps have taken a leaf from Fleming's book of 'how to remain silence in a crisis' is Michelle Akers... But let's not even go there right now.
Anyway, it's going to be interesting to see how this game turns out. It's never boring being a Pride fan, is it?
In terms of the game itself, this is going to be a tough game against a good team. It's definitely a game the Pride can win, though... There's got to be a universe somewhere in the multiverse where that could happen anyway. I'll get Stephen Strange on the case.
In all seriousness, Racing Louisville, whilst being a decent team, aren't exactly pulling up any trees right now. And maybe the uniqueness of this game, and the environment will play into Orlando's hands.
Louisville are struggling to really establish their own identity so far this season, which has led to their sluggish start. That being said, they have assembled an impressive looking squad with plenty of attacking quality in forward areas. They're actually a team that creates a lot going forward, they're 17 big chances created so far is the second best record in the league (figure 1). However, their average of 1.1 goals per game, indicates an inability to convert, as does their XG of 0.95.
The pace and power of Jessica McDonald allows Louisville to stretch defences which then allows the likes of Savannah DeMelo (18 chances created - figure 2), Lauren Milliet (8 chances created) and Nadia Nadim (3 goals) to exploit that additional space caused by McDonald's movement.
Louisville will see this game as a decent opportunity to turn their own fortunes around and further compound Orlando's misery... Yay. I can't wait.
Figure 1 shows Racing Louisville's big chances created statistics on the season so far.
Figure 2 shows Savannah DeMelo's creative statistics on the season so far.
Racing Louisville have yet to publish their latest injury report.
The Orlando Pride, however, are set to be without Marta, Parker Roberts and Sydney Leroux, whilst Carrie Lawrence is questionable. Caitlin Cosme is back in training. Courtney Petersen is also a doubt. See the footage below for Seb Hines'in pre-game thoughts.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Edit 7/2: Julie Doyle and Leah Pruitt are out. Haz James is out as an excused absence.
Possible starting XI
Hard to imagine that Nadia Nadim won't come into the starting XI following her late double salvo from the bench against the Washington Spirit. As such I think they'll line-up a little something like this:
The Denmark legend has hit the ground running following her return to the team, scoring 3 goals in 3 appearances. She has a rating of 7.24 on fotmob.com. Nadim is a very technical player, she can dribble, pass and shoot. Her movement is excellent; she's devilishly difficult to keep tabs on as a result. Orlando are going to have to marshal her well to have any hope of getting a result.
Racing Louisville have lost 3 of their last 4 games and currently lie 9th in the standings, with a 2-3-4 record.
As for the Orlando Pride... Well they're as much of a mess as the Star Wars sequel trilogy. So they're form is... Not good.
*Top player photo credit USA Today Sports Images
Cover image courtesy of Orlando Pride.
B-roll and media availability footage courtesy of Orlando Pride.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com