The Orlando Pride finally got their first win of the season last weekend, a 1-0 victory over the still winless Houston Dash. While walking away with all three points for the first time was certainly a step in the right direction for Orlando (Houston, Sky Blue, and Utah are still looking for that distinction), the tight victory over one of the more hapless teams in the NWSL highlighted some of the issues still facing the Pride as they look to build on their 2017 form and carry themselves into one of the very crowded top-four spots in the league this year.
Before diving into on-field inconsistencies, it should definitely be noted that, like many of the sides with top talent this spring, Orlando has been missing key players from the very start of this season. Their Australian players, Emily Van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy, are on their way back from the Asian Cup having missed all of the Pride’s first four opening matches, and their Brazilians, Marta, Monica, and Poliana, are returning from their own successful World Cup Qualifying campaign that pulled them from play for Orlando after Week 1 (a 1-1 draw against the Utah Royals). All of the teams in the league have similarly been forced to test their depth in the early going, but in many ways Orlando has been hit the hardest in regard specifically to international absences due to their reliance on Brazilian and Australian players to fill impact roles on the field.
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