Crystal Dunn scores a brace in North Carolina Courage’s routing of Orlando

North Carolina Courage Crystal Dunn

Cary, North Carolina (April 18, 2019) — If there was any indication to why North Carolina Courage exerts such dominance in the NWSL, last night was a key example. The Courage hosted their second-straight match at WakeMed Soccer Park during the first mid-week match of the season. In the Wednesday night contest, the Courage completely dominated the Orlando Pride, defeating them 5-0. Crystal Dunn snagged two unassisted goals to give herself a brace. Dunn’s goals came just seven minutes apart from each other, in the 70th and 77th minutes.

Crystal Dunn scores a brace in North Carolina Courage’s routing of Orlando

Meanwhile, Dunn also nabbed an assist. She provided the assist for Lynn Williams in the 45th minute, which was the first goal of the match. Dunn found Williams inside the box and Williams slipped it past Pride goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris.

North Carolina also saw Jessica McDonald score in the 55th minute, kicking off the second half with authority. Lynn Williams picked off a pass from Pride defender Alanna Kennedy and swiftly kicked it to McDonald.

Meanwhile, Swedish international Spetsmark scored her first Courage goal in her club debut. Spetsmark was signed this past offseason and joined the NWSL for the first time. The 29-year-old featured in Sweden and spent time with Manchester City in England.

The statistics were astronomically different for the two sides. North Carolina finished the match with 30 total shots, hitting 13 on goal. Harris was busy in her goal, being forced to make eight saves against players like Abby Erceg, Dunn, Sam Mewis, McCall Zerboni and others.

Meanwhile, the Pride were only able to get nine shots off, with none registering on goal. Stephanie Labbé saw some threats, but was not forced to record a single save.

What the managers said 

After the match, Marc Skinner complimented the Pride’s first half. However, he expressed that his side “can’t give away goals” like the one Williams hit.

“[North Carolina] are direct, set piece, in-your-face, counter-attacking team,” Skinner said, during his post-game press conference. “And they are very good at it, it’s nothing negative, that’s just what they’re good at. But you can’t give the goals away that we’ve given away and expect to get anything out of the game. Look at the times we’ve given the goals away… And there was some really good performances off the ball. But you’ve got to have the whole group doing it.”

Meanwhile, on the other end, Paul Riley kept his remarks simple.

“We got in some good second balls and created five or six great chances in the second half,” Riley said. “It was great to get our first win and get the ball rolling.”

During his press conference, Riley also said that not winning at home last weekend against the Chicago Red Stars put some pressure on his side.

“We talked a lot about the pressure, and everybody says, ‘Oh you should have won this’ or ‘you should have won that,'” Riley said. “That’s great for us. I guess we’re the underdog again. People don’t rate us, and maybe we weren’t that good last week and people wrote us off again.” 

Meanwhile, Skinner went off to say that, despite the score, North Carolina didn’t dictate the match.

“They got their chances and took them,” Skinner said. “Did we dictate? No. But did they dictate? No, so it was quite comfortable in the first half until we gave away a goal that’s not good enough, and then it starts the process. So we have to be more consistent for a longer period of time.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Some changes need to be made: Orlando has a problem. Right now, there’s too much ego on the team. Granted, there are excellent national team players. But, what happens on the national team doesn’t matter at the club level. Each season, you need to prove yourself. Some starters have clearly gotten too comfortable in their positions in Orlando. It’s time to shake things up on all phases.
  2. No more schedule excuses: Let’s be honest. The Orlando Pride did not have the easiest schedule heading into the season. It was really downright brutal, having to face the two teams that made it to the NWSL Championship on Saturday and Wednesday. However, just like those two teams, Orlando had the same offseason. There’s no more time for schedule excuses. It’s time for the players to take some blame. Harris did it last week, which was commendable. However, others need to step up.
  3. Speaking of Harris: Ashlyn Harris wasn’t to blame for that loss. Lots of mistakes were made. On the first goal, the defense did a dismal job covering Williams and had the opportunity to prevent Dunn’s assist. Kennedy gave the ball away for the Courage’s second goal. However, maybe it is time to give Haley Kopmeyer a chance. Harris shouldn’t be benched forever. However, a two-goalkeeper system worked for Paul Riley with Sabrina D’Angelo and Katelyn Rowland for the last three years. Riley would be doing it again if Rowland wasn’t hurt. Maybe it’s time that Skinner gives a two-keeper system a try.

What’s Next? 

  • For North Carolina: North Carolina is a lot luckier than the Pride. They’re off this weekend as the bye-week team in NWSL. They don’t take the pitch again until Sunday, April 28, to take on the Houston Dash down at BBVA Compass Stadium.
  • For Orlando: The Pride aren’t so lucky. Their rough schedule continues as they play their third match in eight days. The trip isn’t a fun one either, as Orlando will fly to Tacoma, Washington, to take on the Reign FC on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.


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