Match report: Orlando Pride split points with Utah Royals in home-opener

Marta and Krieger

The Orlando Pride’s star-studded front three were in display during Saturday’s 2018 National Women’s Soccer League home-opener, but the hype was short lived.

After conceding a goal in the opening moments of the game, a penalty from Marta was able to salvage the Pride a 1-1 draw against the Utah Royals in front of an announced crowd of 9,017 at Orlando City Stadium.

The Royals took the early lead after Gunnhildur Yrsa Jonsdottir gave Utah the 1-0 lead after finishing a cross from Diana Matheson in the third minute.

But Orlando tied the game in the 21st minute. A cross from Christine Nairn connected with Dani Weatherholt inside the box, whose shot hit off Utah’s Becky Sauerbrunn’s arm which earned the Pride a penalty. Marta converted the penalty kick to tie the game 1-1 for Orlando.

“It was kinda  the game that we expected. We knew they will come out and be well organized and start to really press us and work really hard to get a result here,” Orlando head coach Tom Sermanni said after the game. “They’re a new team, a new franchise, and they brought that enthusiasm to the game… [we] didn’t have the brightest of start to the game, but I thought overall if we had scored early in the second, we could of won the game comfortably.”

The Pride won the possession game with 54 percent over the Royals’ 46 percent, but both teams were equal on the shots count with seven each,


Here’s how the Pride lined up: 

Starting XI: Ashlyn Harris (c); Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky, Poliana; Toni Pressley, Dani Weatherholt, Christine Nairn; Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Marta.

Bench: Haley Kopmeyer; Lotta Okvist, Monica, Kristen Edmonds, Danica Evans, Rachel Hill, Chioma Ubogagu.


The Pride are on the road next week when they take on the Washington Spirit on March 31 at 3:30 p.m. The game will broadcast on Lifetime.

Morgan leaves game early 

Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan left the game early in the 44th minute after colliding with Utah Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith. 

According to Pride officials, Morgan was ruled out for the remainder of the game for concussion protocol. 

“Obviously when you lose anyone it’s a big blow, especially losing her so early,” Pride teammate Sydney Leroux said on Morgan leaving the game early.

Chioma Ubogagu entered the game at halftime for the USWNT star.


(Photo by Adrian J Hernandez / Orlando Soccer Journal) 


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