Orlando Pride vs. North Carolina Courage preview: Will North Carolina stay undefeated in Orlando?
North Carolina Courage travel to Orlando Pride for a midweek matchup. (Photo: VAVEL USA)

On Wednesday, the Orlando Pride will host the North Carolina Courage in Week 9 of the National Women's Soccer League season. Orlando are coming off a bye week while the Courage are coming off a 2-1 victory against Sky Blue FC. Orlando are currently third in the NWSL table (12 points), chasing the leaders, North Carolina Courage who are on 23 points. This is the first meeting between the two teams this year but last season, the Pride took the season series winning two of three matches. The best match of last season came in the final match up of this particular series. Australian international Alanna Kennedy fired home a stoppage time free kick that gave Orlando the win and clinched a playoff spot for the Pride.

Orlando undefeated in last five

The Pride are coming off their first win in Portland prior to their bye week where Christine Nairn scored the goal of the week on a long distance shot. US international Alex Morgan opened the scoring in Portland with her first goal of the year. Morgan is happy to play in Orlando again after a three game road trip. She expressed that to the media after practice Monday, “we want to keep our [five game] unbeaten streak … getting back on our home turf is important for us.” Brazilian superstar Marta and Pride leading scorer Chioma Ubogagu, did not see a minute on the field in Portland. Marta and Ubogagu will be well-rested and should see some time against the first place Courage. The veteran backline of Carson Pickett, Shelina Zadorsky, Monica and Ali Krieger will have to be ready for North Carolina’s dangerous offense. Orlando Pride are coming into this matchup undefeated at Orlando City Stadium and should be a difficult test for the undefeated Courage.

Injury report:

OUT: Camila (right knee surgery - D45)

QUESTIONABLE: Ashlyn Harris (left knee soreness), Monica (right knee soreness)

This is the first matchup between Orlando Pride and North Carolina (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
This will be the first matchup between Orlando Pride and North Carolina in 2018  (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Courage looking to extend lead in standings

While Orlando tries to hand North Carolina their first defeat of the season, the Courage are looking to hand the Pride their first defeat at Orlando City Stadium. Midfielder Sam Mewis is coming back into form after missing the first part of the season with a knee injury. Mewis scored her first goal of the season, which proved to be the game winner last week against Sky Blue FC. USWNT teammate Crystal Dunn opened the scoring in last weekends match. Dunn, who the earned Player of the Week award in week 8, has four goals on the season and in second in the league right behind Portland’s Christine Sinclair (5). Striker Jessica McDonald has done well this season with two goals and three assists. Midfielder McCall Zerboni has three goals of her own and is arguably the best midfielder in league this season. As a team, North Carolina Courage lead the league in goals with 15. North Carolina also lead the league on shots and shots on goal. Their high powered offense is backed up by their stifling defense of Merritt Mathias, Abby Dahlkemper, Abby Erceg and Jaelene Hinkle. North Carolina has different top international players such as Ireland’s Denise O’Sullivan and Brazilian Debinha. The Courage have tremendous depth at every position and are able to put different combinations of players into their starting lineup. They are going to have to rely on their depth this week as some key players fall to injury.

Injury report: 

OUT: Sabrina D'Angelo (left ankle sprain), Makenzy Doniak (left knee ACL tear - SEI), Yuri Kawamura (right knee ACL repair - D45), Julie King (left ankle repair), Lynn Williams (right hamstring strain)

QUESTIONABLE: Kristen Hamilton (right calf strain)

The match will be broadcast on the go90 app and go90.com at 7:30 P.M. EST

Quote via: Orlando Pride twitter