Orlando Pride vs Utah Royals FC Preview: Orlando look to jump start their season
Source: nwslssoccer.com

The third week in the National Women's Soccer League sees the Orlando Pride welcome Utah Royals FC in Orlando for the first time this season.

The Pride have played two matches more than the Royals and will want to use home field advantage to gain their first win of the season. Utah come into this match, searching for their first franchise win in Orlando and they have every chance to pick that up this weekend.

Orlando seem to have reversed the tide

Orlando had a better result last time out | Source: orlandocitysc.com
Orlando had a better result last time out | Source: orlandocitysc.com

The Orlando Pride have not had the start to the season that anyone in the organization would have wanted. A poor showing to open the season against Portland Thorns FC was followed by an abysmal effort a few days later against the North Carolina Courage. The Pride then traveled to TacomaWashington to face Reign FC where they gave a better account of themselves and managed to gain their first point of the season. This would suggest that Marc Skinner's tactics are beginning to sink in with the team but Orlando were fortunate to leave the Pacific North-West with a draw as the Reign had many opportunities to win the game.

At the heart of Orlando's problems is their backline which has been exposed by the three teams they have faced so far. Without the goals up front from Alex MorganMarta or Rachel Hill, there is nothing to paper over the gaps that Orlando's defense tend to leave during games. The midfield is also almost non-existent which makes it harder for the likes of Morgan to get the ball  in dangerous positions and there is also no cover for a porous backline. Against Utah, that has to change or the Pride will be looking at another home loss on their hands.

Utah look to make a statement in Orlando

Utah celebrate their goal against the Spirit | Source: rsl.com
Utah celebrate their goal against the Spirit | Source: rsl.com

The Utah Royals have not managed to win against Orlando in the three previous occasions that the two teams have featured in. The last time Utah were in Orlando, they were on the unfortunate end of a 1-1 draw due to some controversy and they will want to change that outcome this time around. The Royals played their first game of the season against the Washington Spirit last week and picked up a 1-0 win thanks to Christen Press. Press will be at the heart of anything good that the Royals do tomorrow night and if they can get her the ball regularly enough, she can punish the Orlando defense from any range or angle.

With only one match played so far this season, there is not much to say with regards to Utah's tactics but based on their performance against the Spirit, they will be disappointed to only score one goal in that game. The midfield and frontline are gelling well together and with a solid backline behind them, Utah  could be playoff bound this season. A win against Orlando in Orlando will certainly help push the narrative that the Royals have found their footing in the NWSL and are a team to be reckoned with.