Orlando Pride shock Kansas City Current and take sole lead in NWSL

Orlando Pride beat Kansas City Current 2-1 in a game marked by decisive moments and the expulsion of Carrie Lawrence. Barbra Banda and Marta shine in the most anticipated match of 2024
Jul 6, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Current defender Lauren (78) reacts as the Orlando Pride celebrate after a match at CPKC Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Tre. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 6, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Current defender Lauren (78) reacts as the Orlando Pride celebrate after a match at CPKC Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nick Tre. Smith-USA TODAY Sports / Nick Tre. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride showed their strength and determination with an impressive 2-1 victory over Kansas City Current in a head-to-head that set up the NWSL's sole lead. In a game that has already gone down in history, both teams arrived unbeaten, but it was the Pride who emerged victorious, extending their unbeaten run to 16 games, equaling the league record.

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Star Barbra Banda opened the scoring for the Pride, netting her 12th goal of the season, an impressive feat that makes her one of the league's top scorers. With this goal, Banda is just one away from equaling the record for goals in a single Pride season, set by the legendary Queen Marta. The move began with Adriana, who launched a long ball over the Current defense. After a deflection off a defender, the ball fell to Banda, who showed all her class and coolness by finishing with precision.

Kansas City Current's response came quickly, with Temwa Chawinga creating a spectacular individual move in the 39th minute, dribbling past the defense and hitting a low shot to equalize. Current's pressure continued, but the Pride defense, even with one player less after Carrie Lawrence's dismissal in the 42nd minute, stood firm. Moorhouse, with seven saves in the match, showed why she is one of the best goalkeepers in the league, ensuring the safety of the Pride's goal.

In the second half, Kansas City Current tried to take advantage of their numerical advantage, but the Orlando Pride were undeterred. In the 63rd minute, in a counter-attacking move, Adriana was brought down in the box by Current's goalkeeper, Franch. Marta, the queen of soccer, took responsibility and converted the penalty with mastery, scoring her fifth goal of the season and the 10th penalty of her Pride career.

The match continued to be intense, with Kansas City Current searching for the equalizer until the last minutes. A final chance came in the 84th minute, when Clarisse Le Bihan shot dangerously, but Moorhouse made a spectacular save to secure the win for the Pride. This crucial win not only put the Pride at the top of the table, but also showed the team's resilience and fighting spirit.

Orlando Pride coach Seb Hines stressed the importance of this win and the strength of the team: "It was more than deserved. To go down to 10 players so early in the game and show the character we've been talking about all season is just incredible. Coming into this game, we knew it was going to be a tough game. We had the same amount of points, the same amount of wins, the same amount of draws and there was nothing between us in this game. So I think we showed our class on the day, our character and personality. Everyone contributed to this win today and it's great to go into this break with three valuable points."

With this win, the Orlando Pride extended their unbeaten run to 16 games, equaling the NWSL record. The team is now unbeaten in 17 games in total, since the last game of the 2023 season, and continues to show impressive form. This is Kansas City Current's first home defeat this year, ending a 17-game unbeaten run since October 2023.

Barbra Banda, with her 12 goals, continues to lead the race for the Golden Boot, while Marta solidifies herself as one of the league's most decisive players. The combination of young talent and experience at Orlando Pride is proving to be a winning formula, and the team is now more confident than ever to continue their title run.

The Orlando Pride showed that even in the face of adversity, such as playing a player down for much of the game, the team has the ability to adapt and overcome challenges. The defensive strength, led by Anna Moorhouse, and the offensive efficiency of players like Banda and Marta, are key factors in the team's continued success.