Orlando Pride Forward Alex Morgan and Head Coach Tom Sermanni Relive and Recount What Worked – and What Didn’t in Last Night’s Game Against Seattle Reign FC
Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni and forward Alex Morgan spoke give us the breakdown on the breakdowns – and the breakthroughs.
Orlando Pride (10-6-6, 36 points) and Seattle Reign FC (8-7-7, 31 points) battled to a hard-fought draw on Thursday night, saving the goal scoring for late heroics during second-half stoppage time.
Alex Morgan broke the deadlock in the second minute of extra time, pushing the Pride ahead in their hunt for the playoffs, but the lead didn’t last long as Seattle’s Jessica Fishlock equalized two minutes later for the 1-1 final.
Orlando will now see over two weeks before its next match, as the NWSL heads into a FIFA break following the conclusion of the rest of the Week 20 matches.
Orlando will play its final home match of the regular season on Saturday, Sept. 23, against Portland Thorns FC.
Though the Pride were unable to earn all three points to clinch a playoff spot, the draw extended the Pride’s unbeaten streak to seven straight matches and keeps Orlando in playoff position.
Goal Nation: What are your initial impressions on last night’s game?
Tom Sermanni: “This sport comes back and gives you lessons sometimes. Mixed feelings. Delighted with the effort. Pleased with the chances we created. We weren’t quite as slick tonight as we had been in other games. But I thought we did enough to win the game and it’s eating at me at the moment that we switched off straight from the kickoff and gave a goal away in the last minute. Apart from that, delighted with our players’ efforts. [We] still kept the unbeaten run going and we’re getting to the top four.”
Goal Nation: How do you feel about how prepared the team was vs. how they performed?
Tom Sermanni: “It was frustrating because we knew they were going to do that and we’ve got the players that should be able to play out under that kind of pressure. I felt tonight we just didn’t seem to have our normal composure and our normal confidence to do that. Again, it could be a result of we know how close we’re getting to the playoffs so you’re starting to get that little bit nervy. It’s possible that that was part of the reason that we didn’t quite play fluidly as we had been playing in other games.”
“I thought we were slow with restarts, we were slow with getting switched on to opportunities, our ball movement wasn’t slick enough, our decision-making wasn’t quite up to the standard. You put all those things together against a good team, you’re going to have problems. In saying that, apart from set pieces and a couple of chances late in the game, I don’t think they created a lot of problems for us. At the same time we had, particularly in the second half, quite a few opportunities that had we been just a little bit better on the night we would have finished them off.”
Goal Nation: Was Hurricane Irma on the players’ minds?
Tom Sermanni: “No. There’s a lot of stuff in social media, etcetera, early in the week, which I was made aware of. I don’t read social media that much. In our case, no. The only thing that impacted us tonight to a degree was that we had a really tough training session on Tuesday to prepare for Saturday. So we had a really hard session on the field, then we had a weak session after that. Then we find out on Tuesday evening that we’re playing on Thursday. That was probably the only thing that had a little bit of an impact on us. But the hurricane, it is what it is. They call it a strong wind in Scotland.”
Goal Nation: Was there playoff atmosphere during the match?
Tom Sermanni: “Yes Definitely. Both teams knew how important the game was. For them in particular tonight was a cup final. They could not lose the game tonight. For us, obviously had we lost the game we’ve still got another opportunity but it was really important for us not to lose the game and lose momentum.”
Speaking with Alex Morgan
Goal Nation: Tell us about your goal?
Alex Morgan: “I don’t remember exactly before Dani [Weatherholt] received the ball. Seattle’s backline was really unorganized and I’m able to pick up on that pretty easily, so Dani was able to play me in a great ball and although there was a defender on me I thought that Lydia [Williams] the goalkeeper was hugging her near post. I saw that out of the corner of my eye and so I went for it. That’s what I was practicing a lot last week—low and hard to the far post with my left foot. That’s where I’ve scored the majority of goals in my career. I went for it and I hadn’t gotten that many shots since early in the first half. I knew we had to make something happen and that’s exactly where I was aiming. It was very short lived, that excitement.”
Goal Nation: How were emotions running after the equalizer?
Alex Morgan: “When I scored I thought that was the game winner that we needed to hold on to for probably one minute. And I heard Tom [Sermanni] and Khano [Smith] yelling over at me after the celebration to get organized and get prepared. Once I got to the other side of the half line they were already down in the final third and it didn’t take more than 30 seconds before they converted. We just switched off for a second. It’s not that the crosses by any means were extremely dangerous, I think we could’ve handled it. We could have definitely been in the playoff spot at this point, but we’re not in a bad position by any means. We’re still seven games unbeaten and that’s pretty good.”
Photo Credit: Orlando Pride, NWSL.