Thursday Match Preview & Pick

Due to the expected arrival of Hurricane Irma in Florida over the weekend, the Orlando Pride, Seattle Reign and NWSL moved up the meeting of the two clubs to Thursday evening. It's a move that makes sense, for sporting reasons.

Some of the visitors, however, don't seem to be too impressed with the idea of being in Florida right now.

This sort of thing is always a tough call. People who live in the projected path are likely to have more pressing concerns on their minds than soccer. People who don't live in the projected path are likely to not want to put themselves deliberately in the projected path for any length of time. Irma won't reach central Florida until the weekend, but depending on the track, poor conditions will arrive far in advance of the center of the storm. Still, it seems the game tonight won't be impacted, and that the Reign should be able to get out of town before Irma comes knocking.

At least one member of the Pride seems to be keeping a sense of humor about what's to come.

One tiny wrinkle to consider for the weekend: Our lovely NWSL on Go90 broadcasts all originate in Florida, so there is an off chance that a piece of infrastructure that brings video of the match to the people in Florida who are calling the match, or brings the combined video and commentary out of Florida to the rest of us, or both, might be damaged or otherwise cut out of the programming delivery system during the storm. Saturday looks OK, but Sunday's matches (Portland at Boston and Washington at Sky Blue) will be played after Irma has made landfall in Florida. So, if there will be any interruptions, they'll most likely come on Sunday. Fingers crossed as always for a smooth streaming experience, but let's keep our eye on the ball—human people are suffering across the path of this monster storm and more will be suffering soon. That's a lot more important than soccer. 

Stay safe down there, and good luck.

Here's the latest track info:


Seattle Reign at Orlando Pride

Thursday at 8PM on Go90 App 

Playoffs? You're talking about Playoffs?

Playoffs? You're talking about Playoffs?

So what's going to happen on the field? The Orlando Pride have the chance to lock up a playoff spot, and they probably don't remember what it feels like to lose a match. Seattle isn't eliminated from playoff consideration yet, but their chances will be severely hurt if they can't get a win tonight.

So, what happened last time they played? Yeah, that game was an unsatisfying 1-1 draw all the way back on May 21st. Late May was before the return of Alex Morgan to form; she didn't record her first NWSL goal for 2017 until she converted a PK in mid-July. She didn't even suit up for the Pride until July 1st! That goal in May? That was Marta. She's pretty good too.

Both teams are very healthy. Seattle lists only Diana Matheson (ACL—out for season) on their list, so there is every possibility that Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock could channel their disgruntlement at having to be in Florida tonight into a flashy performance reminiscent of their play together prior to their injuries. If that's the Seattle Reign that shows up tonight, they'll have a very good shot at handing their hosts their first loss in more than a month. If they lose, and the Red Stars beat FCKC over the weekend, the Reign will miss the playoffs. That would be a shame, because it's hard not to conclude that the mid-summer injuries to Fishlock and Rapinoe didn't cost the team at least a few points in the standings. 

Orlando, however, will want the points and the comfort of the playoff berth, especially with the uncertainty of what Irma will bring in the days ahead. There is a 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms this evening (really, any afternoon/evening has a decent chance of scattered t-storms in Florida), so that may be a factor. 

This one is challenging to predict (yes, evidence suggests I'm bad at predicting most matches). It could easily be 4-2 in either direction, depending on which side catches fire first. Seattle has shown a great ability to fight back from being down this season. They won't push their back line high and risk the runs in behind as did Boston last weekend when the Breakers fell 4-2 to Orlando in the rain. But the Reign can also score prolifically, which Boston hasn't been able to do this year. If Boston got 2, how many can Seattle score? I think Seattle is better than their August record might indicate, and they'll be desperate to win. Unfortunately, Orlando may not be in the mood to accommodate them.

Draw!

Orlando Pride 2-2 Seattle Reign