3 things we learned from the Orlando Pride’s 1-0 win over Gotham FC
The Orlando Pride notched their second win under coach Becky Burleigh on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Gotham FC at Red Bull Arena.
Captain and keeper Ashlyn Harris broke the NWSL all-time saves record in the match while maintaining the shutout. Here are three other top takeaways from the match:
1. Tymrak’s presence grows
When Erika Tymrak pulled up from nearly midfield to smash a parabolic strike over the outreached fingertips of keeper Kailen Sheridan, she flashed the scoring threat that first entered the NWSL in 2013.
Tymrak has been doing this for years — scoring 11 game-winning goals for the Florida Gators and banging in seven goals in her debut season on the way to winning NWSL Rookie of the Year.
In her final two years with the Utah Royals ahead of her 2020 retirement, the midfielder’s goal production slowed to a near standstill. But after taking a year off, Tymrak is beginning to return to an even better version of herself as she contributes more to the Orlando offense.
The Pride don’t necessarily need Tymrak to regularly score golazos like her game-winner on Sunday, but the goal reflected the importance of her role.
Tymrak offered yet another scoring option for the Pride. While Sydney Leroux leads the league with six goals this season, four of Orlando’s last five goals have been scored by other players — Jodie Taylor, Marta and now Tymrak.
The midfielder is also a dribbling threat for the Pride, complementing Marta’s similar on-ball presence while creating options for strikers such as Leroux and Taylor.
“She’s a massive weapon,” Harris said. “Her ability to get on the ball and just start dribbling at people — I mean, it’s like the ball’s glued to her foot. It causes havoc.”
With her confidence bolstered by Burleigh — who coached her in college at Florida — Tymrak’s growth will continue to be key as the Pride push for the playoffs.
2. Defensive versatility
Behind Tymrak’s goal, the Pride’s greatest victory of the match was holding a shutout with two of their defensive starters sidelined.
Fullback Courtney Petersen missed the game with a foot injury while centerback Amy Turner sat out with a right leg injury. Burleigh adjusted by moving Phoebe McClernon out from centerback to fill in for Petersen, then tapped Toni Pressley to replace Turner.
A previously consistent starter for Orlando, Pressley had started only two games and played in a total of five before Sunday, but she stepped into the role smoothly against Gotham.
This defensive depth is new for the Pride, who previously struggled to shut out teams even with their preferred backline. The Orlando defense has improved considerably this season — dropping from 2.2 goals per game in 2019 to 1.1 — but Sunday marked just its third shutout of the year.
3. Post-goal adjustment clicks
After last week’s 2-1 loss to Washington, Burleigh noted that a 1-0 scoreline should be enough for the Pride to pull off a win on the road. On Sunday, the team did just that.
The adjustment for the team centered on players’ reactions to taking an early lead. Taylor said she sensed a “little bit of fear” in her teammates whenever they went up a goal on an opponent. This timidity directly played into the team ceding late-game goals.
Throughout the week, Burleigh emphasized a sharpened, bolder approach on both sides of the ball for the team following any goal.
Burleigh particularly credited centerback Ali Krieger for setting the tone for the rest of the team’s defensive approach. Lined up against Carli Lloyd for most of the match, Krieger relentlessly shut down the striker, blanketing her in the box and disrupting her attempts to get on frame.
“[She] had a hell of a game tonight where she was just determined that that matchup with Carli Lloyd was not going to determine the game,” Burleigh said. “That emanated from her to the whole backline and to everyone going forward in terms of how we defended as a unit.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Julia Poe at firstname.lastname@example.org.