Orlando Pride and Houston Dash match seemed destined for a 0-0 draw until a late penalty was called on Pride defender Kristen Edmonds for fouling Kealia Ohai. The Pride almost escaped with one point despite being a player down due to Julie King’s red card in the 61st minute. As referee Reyna Fonseca was discussing the penalty call with Pride players and an assistant referee, tempers flared up near the penalty spot. Marta and several Dash players got involved in a scuffle and in the end Marta, who was already on a yellow card, was sent off for violent conduct. Houston’s Rachel Daly converted the penalty giving the Dash the lead. Down two players Orlando could not find the equalizer giving Houston the victory.
Orlando defender Ali Krieger expressed her frustrations with NWSL referees during the post game press conference. “The ref lost control of the game ... I beg the NWSL - just that the standard needs to be higher.” Krieger did not want to put all the blame on the officials for the loss but there was no hiding her anger. “You feel like the referees are ruining the game, taking the fun out of the game because they are not good enough.”
A total of six cards were issued in the match, four of which were issued to Orlando Pride players. King’s 61st minute straight red card was shown when she fouled Kristie Mewis just outside the penalty area. Mewis was in on goal with the keeper when King brought her down from behind denying Mewis a goal-scoring opportunity. King was signed on Thursday and was her first NWSL appearance since September of 2017 with the Boston Breakers. Pride coach Marc Skinner believed it was the correct call but was careful to criticize NWSL officials when no explanation was given on Marta's red card. “Consistency. If there’s consistency, you would have [fewer] arguments.”
Pride first half chances
Marisa Viggiano, Carson Pickett and Claire Emslie had chances to take the lead but failed to convert on Dash goalkeeper Jane Campbell. Pride forward Chioma Ubogagu had the best chance in the 43rd minute. Ubogagu found the ball at her feet at the center of the box and attempted a left footed curling shot that sailed wide of the left post. Going into halftime scoreless, Orlando had the advantage on shots and shots on goal and look to be the better team. However Ubogagu’s miss would be the start of Orlando’s frustrations.
Orlando Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris celebrated her 100th NWSL regular season appearance with a pre-game ceremony. Houston Dash defender Amber Brooks broke Abby Dahlkemper’s consecutive minutes played (5,853) record in the 88th minute of the match.
0-1, min. 87, Daly (PK)
Orlando Pride Substitutions: Edmonds min. 69 (Boyles), Hill min. 69 (Viggiano), Camila min. 88 (Ubogagu)
Houston Dash Substitutions: Kizer min. 76 (Schmidt), Simon min. 79 (Fields), Calderón min. 88 (Ohai)
Yellow Card: Marta min. 74, Kizer min. 82, Ohai min. 87, Emslie min. 90+2.
Red Card: King min. 61, Marta min. 85.