Orlando Pride (9-6-5, 32 points) took its winning streak on the road on Saturday and increased it to four straight with a 2-1 defeat of FC Kansas City (6-9-5, 23 points). Alex Morgan scored her eighth goal of the season in the 87th minute, breaking the deadlock and giving the Pride three important points with four games remaining in the regular season.
The four wins in a row mark the best string of performances in the team’s two-year history. The Pride also finish the month of August undefeated.
“We always knew it was going to be a difficult game. They are a good footballing side that just won three games in a row. Their confidence was high and they were playing at home. We knew it was going to be a tough game and it turned out that way,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said. “In fairness, I think we dictated the play for most of the game apart from the seven minutes of stoppage time when we were under some pressure as [Kansas City] pushed to equalize. Apart from that, we dictated most of the game, most of the play and I think we deserved to win the game.”
With both teams entering the match riding three straight wins, the match was anticipated to be tight throughout and was just that.
The Pride got on the board first, with Chioma Ubogagu finding a loose ball near the six-yard box and firing it past Nicole Barnhart. Ubogagu’s goal came after the Pride earned three consecutive corner kicks. The Pride kept the ball in the penalty area, with Monica eventually trying a shot from the top of the box. The attempt was blocked by a wall of Kansas City defenders, but Ubogagu pounced on the rebound six yards out and beat Barnhart on the left side.
The home side tied things up just before the halftime whistle after Lo’eau LoBonta volleyed a service from Shea Groom under Ashlyn Harris, who came off her line to contest the opportunity.
But it was the duo of Morgan and Marta who teamed up for the final goal of the evening, three minutes before second half stoppage time. Camila – who shifted from center midfield to right back to outside midfield over the 90 minutes – won a free kick for the Pride in the attacking third.
Marta took the right-side free kick and Morgan scored a jaw-dropping goal, redirecting the low, driven ball toward net with the waist-high, outside of the boot back-heel flick. The change-up stunned Barnhart, who was able to make contact but could not keep it out of the net. It was the fourth time Marta and Morgan have connected for a goal this season.
The goal extended Morgan’s goal-scoring streak to five consecutive games while the forward has found the back of the net in six of the last seven matches.
The win keeps the Pride in playoff position and puts the Central Florida team five points ahead of Seattle Reign FC, who fell to Portland Thorns FC on Saturday. With 32 points, Orlando jumped to third place in the NWSL standings, pending the result of Saturday night’s match between Chicago and Washington.
The Pride return to Orlando for their final home matches of the regular season, playing the next three matches from the comforts of Orlando City Stadium. The homestand kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 2 when the Pride host the Boston Breakers at 7:30 p.m. ET. It will be the second meeting between the two sides in two weeks, after the Pride took a 2-1 win on Aug. 19.
Orlando then hosts Seattle on Sept. 9 and Portland on Sept. 23 to close out the home season.
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