NWSL: Orlando Pride beat out San Diego Wave

Summer Yates celebrates with teammates
Summer Yates celebrates with teammates after scoring against San Diego Wave FC at Inter & Co Stadium on April 19, 2024. (Photo by Orlando Pride)

Week four of the NWSL season saw Orlando Pride edge out a 1-0 win over San Diego Wave at Inter & Co Stadium.

The Pride were hungry to add to their undefeated season start, fresh from three consecutive draws and a 1-0 win over the Utah Royals last week. They entered the game in fifth place, four points behind league leaders KC Current.

On the other hand, the Wave had collected four points in their first three games. Naomi Girma was a surprise addition to the side’s starting lineup having been marked as unlikely due to a thigh injury that kept her out of the team’s 0-0 draw against Racing Louisville.

Starting XIs

Orlando Pride

Moorhouse; Martinez, Sams, Abello, Strom, McCutcheon, Angelina, Yates, Marta, Doyle, Watt

San Diego Wave

Sheridan; Dahlkemper, Girma, Van Egmond, Lundkvist, Jakobsson, Shaw, Morgan, McNabb, McCaskill, Colaprico

Orlando Pride 1-0 San Diego Wave

First half 

At the start of the first half, both teams took turns playing out from the back, but it was the Pride who looked the most dangerous in possession. An early cross from Doyle flew across goal, narrowly missing a conversion touch from Watt in the box.

The Wave’s starting keeper was tested 11 minutes in, when Orlando once again broke through to put Watt in a 1v1 situation. However, a poor finish and Sheridan’s quick reactions kept the score level.

An Orlando corner at the 17-minute mark showed cracks in the usually well-organised San Diego backline, but a lack of Pride players in the box let them off lightly.

The Wave’s defence could only hold up for so long. The Pride pushed into the box, with Doyle’s shot blocked by Sheridan and cleared by Girma. Less than a minute later, Sheridan was called into action again to block Abello’s strike. Summer Yates slotted the rebound into the net, putting the hosts ahead in the 26th minute.

The Pride kept San Diego’s one-woman offence of Alex Morgan virtually out of play in the first half. Her most dangerous chance saw her squeezed tight between Sams and Strom, with Moorhouse meeting the trio at the edge of the box to easily collect. The Pride remains the only NWSL team that Morgan has faced, but never scored against.

That said, San Diego’s defence was best-in-show last season, and multiple clearances by Dahlkemper and Girma before the halftime whistle showed why.

A final chance came for the hosts 40 minutes in, but a poor finish by Doyle saw the ball fly well over the crossbar. San Diego were lucky to head into the break 1-0 down.

Second half 

After a fiery first half from the Orlando Pride, the pace slowed significantly at the start of the second. A 55th-minute run from 23-year-old Yates opened up the Wave’s defence, but the finishing shot flew wide.

The substitution of Ally Watt for newly-signed Barbra Banda drew the biggest roar of the night. The striker touched down in Orlando last week after signing a four-year deal. The transfer fee of $740,000 (£581,000) makes the 24-year-old the second most expensive player in the women’s game behind fellow Zambian international Racheal Kundananji.

Barbra Banda debuts for Orlando Pride
Barbra Banda during her Orlando Pride debut at Inter & Co Stadium on April 19, 2024. (Photo by Orlando Pride)

Banda showed immediate impact. Though her first two shots were easily blocked by the Wave’s defence, the third challenged Sheridan to a tricky save.

The Wave showed fight in the final 20′ and pressed deep into the Pride’s half, but the offensive struggles that have plagued the California side throughout their opening games continued. The visitors showed no real attack, and any positional advantage was quickly dealt with without testing Moorhouse in goal.

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A Banda goal seemed inevitable, with failed shots coming in quick succession. She was blocked by Wave captain Dahlkemper and then by Sheridan on two occasions.

In San Diego’s best chance of the night after 80 minutes on the clock, a quick pass through to Morgan in front of the box looked like a sure-fire equaliser, but some scrappy defending from the Pride kept the home team on top. In a collision with the keeper, Morgan took a hit to the ankle which saw her sit for the remainder of the game. Out of substitutions, the Wave continued with 10.

With eight additional minutes, San Diego clawed out a final chance. Substitute Kyra Carusa turned in the box, but her shot in the 91 minute was caught by Moorehouse. The game finished 1-0 to the Orlando Pride.

Up next

Speaking after the match, Orlando Pride head coach Seb Hines reflected on the gulf between the number of chances the home team had, and the number of goals scored.

“I felt that we dominated from start to finish. I know San Diego had a lot of passes, but passes around the back which are fine for us because it opens up the door for us to be lethal in transition. Would I have liked more goals? Absolutely.”

Orlando Pride are back in action next Friday when they head to the nation’s capital to face off against Washington Spirit. The Wave have a little over a week to regroup before facing Bay FC at home.

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