Sky Blue hopes to stop the bleeding against Orlando Pride

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by TOM SLATER

Six points out of a playoff spot with three games left to go, Sky Blue FC will be fighting for its playoff life this week, beginning Wednesday with the start of a home-and-home series with the Orlando Pride.

But before they can worry about the playoffs, Sky Blue FC (6-7-4, 22 points) needs to think about snapping a three-game losing streak — one in which they have been outscored 8-3. While the first two losses hurt, they were against Chicago and Washington, both one of the top four teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), Sunday’s 2-1 loss to FC Kansas City hurt for several reasons.

For one, Sky Blue had the lead — even if it was for just five minutes. Second, FC Kansas City had a losing record and was behind them in the standings. And finally, they really never mounted an attack and had very few dangerous opportunities.

And the bleeding has to stop now.

“Collectively as a team, we are disappointed in our last few results,” said Christy Holly, Sky Blue FC coach. “We are lucky to have a quick turnaround, which allows us the opportunity to rectify some of those previous outcomes. We are very confident that we will put in a strong, winning performance on Wednesday night.”

Wednesday will mark the first meeting between these clubs since the Pride was added as an NWSL expansion team this past offseason. And the Pride may be just the medicine Sky Blue FC needs. While Sky Blue FC has been on the wrong end of its last three games, Orlando has lost five consecutive matches.

“I say this week in and week out, every game in this league is tough and difficult. Christy [Holly] has got the group very tight. They aren’t necessarily a group of star names, they are much more of a team effort,” said Pride coach Tom Sermanni.  “They have quality, experienced leadership in Christie Rampone and Kelley O’Hara but, in general, they are very much a team that works hard for each other.”

Wednesday’s match could mark the Orlando Pride debut of Australian Women’s National Team captain Lisa De Vanna, who was signed by the club last week. De Vanna, who ranks second all-time in Australia’s scoring history, played her first season in the NWSL as a member of Sky Blue FC in 2013.

The Pride were eliminated from postseason contention on Saturday night, falling 4-2 to the Houston Dash at BBVA Compass Stadium. It was the fourth meeting between the two sides this year, with the Pride winning the previous three.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. at Rutgers University’s Yurcak Field.

NWSL on Fox Sports 1: FOX Sports kicks off its 2016 coverage of the National Women’s Soccer League on Wednesday, Sept. 7 when Christen Press and the Chicago Red Stars host Becky Sauerbrunn and FC Kansas City at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Jenn Hildreth calls the match alongside Kyndra de St. Aubin. Coverage begins at 7:55 PM ET on FS1.

FS1 televises six matches, including the championship, set for Sunday, Oct. 9, at 5 p.m. ET.

All six NWSL matches on FS1 are also available for live and on-demand streaming via the FOX Sports GO app and online at FOXSportsGO.com.

Date/Time (ET) Show/Match Network
Wednesday, Sept. 7

8 p.m.

Chicago Red Stars vs.
FC Kansas City
FS1
Sunday, Sept. 11

9:30 p.m.

Portland Thorns FC vs.
Western New York Flash
FS1
Sunday, Sept. 25

9:30 p.m.

Houston Dash vs.
Seattle Reign FC
FS1
TBD Semifinal 1 FS1
TBD Semifinal 2 FS1
Sunday,

Oct. 9

p.m.

Final FS1