The Orlando Pride received Sky Blue FC at Exploria Stadium last saturday. Both teams needed a win to forget the rough first half of the season they had. Both were making improvements in the last few weeks but needed a good result to keep on the good track.
The first opportunity came for Sky Blue in the 12th minute after Paige Monaghan played a ball to a running Gina Lewandoski. Orlando's forward Chioma Ubogagu intercepted the ball but not completly and it ended up in Lewandowski's feet, who then sent a cross to Elizabeth Eddy. This player found herself in front of Ashlyn Harris to shoot but the defender Alanna Kennedy denied her that opportunity and cleared the ball.
Five minutes later, Marta sent the perfect diagonal pass to Ali Krieger who was running on the left flank to join the attack. She then passed the ball to Marsa Viggiano who sent the ball to Ubogagu inside the box. The player received that ball on her chest, turned around and shot... but the ball went wide.
Orlando started to get to the third end more often, putting Sky Blue to do some emergency defending until they finally got what they wanted.
In the 23rd minute Marisa Viggiano found the goal after Ubogagu's pass. The rookie carried the ball near the sideline and then started to go inside the box. She ripped a shot off to the top left corner as soon as she put a foot inside while Kailen Sheridan tried to stop it but the shot was too powerful, making it unstoppable for the goalkeeper.
Ubogagu showed a lot of spark again this match and in the 30th minute she broke through Sky Blue's defense, leaving Sarah Killion and Erica Skroski in the way to get her chance to shot but the ball went wide.
The hosts dominated the second half
We had an early change at the beginning of the second half: The international Estelle Johnson was subbed off for Jen Hoy, given the firepower she was showing in the last two matches when she granted Sky Blue the winner goal in both occasions.
Toni Pressley had a great opportunity after a free kick and a series of touches from Orlando attackers that left her the opportunity to shot in front of goal but Sheridan was standing at the right place and got that ball.
Minutes later Raquel Rodríguez lost a ball to Marta, who then sprinted through the middle of the park, passed it to Ubogagu, who, in turn, sent it to Joanna Boyles and she sent a through ball to Rachel Hill who founded herself alone inside the box but Lewandoski made a great tackle from behind, making Hill unable to finish.
In the 60th minute another great pass from Marta to Hill, left her unmarked to put the second goal for the hosts but Sheridan stopped her shot with one hand.
Marta couldn't score this match but was very close to it in the 69th minute after a great cross from Scottish international Claire Emslie. The forward connected with Marta who sent the ball just inches away. The final opportunity for the hosts came through Emily Van Egmond who shot to the second post, given that Sheridan got the first post covered, but sent the ball wide.
Orlando dominated the second half and didn't give Sky Blue a chance to get near Ashlyn Harris. The sub Hoy couldn't perform her magic by giving her team a goal this time and the team looked sloppy and gave away the ball too easy.
Orlando couldn't take advantage of the many opportunities they created in the second half and also Sky Blue defense did good clearing second balls and cutting attacks.
The club from New Jersey is lacking firepower on the attack, and we could see that because Raquel Rodríguez couldn't find anyone to associate with, specially during the second half. As a result they didn't test much Orlando's defense and so their rivals didn't have much to worry about in their defense department.
Kailen Sheridan was the highest point in Sky Blue again, and she gave us many amazing saves. While in Orlando Chioma Ubogagu was always in the heart of the team attacks.