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Five things to know when OL Reign face the Orlando Pride

It’s the first meeting of the year between the clubs.

OL Reign v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

After winning the 2022 Women’s Cup, OL Reign return to regular-season NWSL play with a road match against the Orlando Pride. The game kicks off Friday, August 26, at 4 PM PT and will broadcast locally on FOX 13+ and stream on Paramount+ for fans in the U.S. and Twitch for international viewers.

OL Reign enters the match fifth in the league table with a 6-4-6 record. The club has scored 20 goals while allowing 15. Orlando is seventh in the league with a 5-5-6 record and has scored 19 goals while conceding 31.

The Reign took down Gotham 4-1 in their last NWSL match. The Pride also faced Gotham in their last match, winning 2-1 on the road.

Friday’s game marks the first meeting between the two sides in 2022. Here are five things to know ahead of the match.

An unbeaten run

After a disappointing start to the season, Orlando is riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (3-0-4) and are pushing for a playoff spot. Their three wins during this run came against Gotham FC (2-1), the San Diego Wave (1-0), and Houston Dash (1-0). This run has come under interim head coach Seb Hines, who stepped into the role in mid-June after head coach Amanda Cromwell and assistant Sam Greene were placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of a joint investigation between the NWSL and NWSL Players Association that explored allegations of workplace misconduct toward players.

What’s working for Orlando

What has made the Pride so difficult to defeat under Hines? First, they’re giving up a lot fewer goals. Since June 19, when they lost 6-0 to Portland, Orlando is conceding one goal per match. Before their unbeaten run, the Pride averaged 2.7 goals against each game. They’re playing simple soccer and have focused on defensive organization. Short, quick passes so they don’t lose their shape. Defending with lots of numbers behind the ball.

“I think Seb’s done a great job. I think he’s made them organized. I think he’s made them hard to beat first and foremost, and then I think their players have bought into that and they’re showing their quality,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said ahead of the match.

OL Reign influence

The Pride won last week’s match against Gotham thanks to two goals from former OL Reign players. Right back Celia has been one of the team’s strongest players, and she scored Orlando’s opening goal, her second this season. Ally Watt scored the game-winner in her debut after joining the Pride in a trade with the Reign. Another former Reign forward, Darian Jenkins, leads the team with two goals and one assist.

Not a lot of shots

Orlando averages 3.6 shots on target per match, which is 11th in the league (only Gotham is behind them). The Reign, meanwhile, average 6.3 shots on target per game. For both sides, it will be about making their opportunities count. The Reign in particular are looking for back-to-back league matches scoring multiple goals for the first time since early July.

Attacking third creativity

Orlando often builds from the back and has fewer passes in their attacking half than their opponent. In fact, in their last nine matches, the Pride have only had more passes in their half in three games: against Angel City, Houston, and Louisville. That means the Reign should have plenty of possession higher up the field, but it will be on the team to get creative and make the most of that time on the ball.

Availability / Injury Report

OL Reign

OUT: Angelina (SEI - right knee), Tobin Heath (left leg), Quinn (upper body)

Orlando Pride

OUT: Kaylie Collins (wrist), Caitlin Cosme (knee), Darian Jenkins (knee), Toni Pressley (Covid protocol), Parker Roberts (foot), Marta (SEI), Chelsee Washington (ankle)

How to Watch

OL Reign kicks off against the Orlando Pride on Friday, August 26, at 4 PM PT. The match will broadcast locally on FOX 13+ and will stream on Paramount+ for fans in the U.S. and Twitch for international viewers (search NWSL Official).

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