After a slow start, Leroux enjoys a breakthrough with Orlando
The season started off slowly for the Orlando Pride's newly acquired Sydney Leroux but the U.S. international brokeout in a big way on Saturday. ASN's John Halloran is here to give you the latest.
BY John Halloran PostedWHEN THE Orlando Pride acquired Sydney Leroux in an off-season trade this February, many defenses in the National Women’s Soccer League shuddered at the possibility of facing a front-line comprised of Leroux, Alex Morgan, and Brazilian superstar Marta.
May 29, 2018
May 29, 2018
And while the Pride have gotten off to a solid 4-3-3 start in 2018, the goals have been slow to come for Leroux, who entered this weekend’s contest against the Chicago Red Stars having not scored in any of her first eight appearances.
That changed in a big way on Saturday.
On a brutally hot 95-degree day in Bridgeview, Orlando got off to a quick start, notching two goals in just the first six minutes of play. Then, as the game wore on, Chicago eventually worked their way back into the match and evened the contest in the 60th minute.
Leroux, however, quickly threw cold water on the Red Stars’ come back. Within three minutes of Chicago’s equalizer, the Orlando forward—who had entered the game as a second-half substitute—notched two goals herself to restore the Pride’s advantage and help lead her team to three points.
Speaking to the media after the match, Leroux said picking up her first goals of the season felt, “Good, really good. Feels like a weight off my back, so I’m really happy about it. I’m happy that we got a win, most importantly.”
Unable to pinpoint an exact reason for her early season goal slump, Leroux added, “I think that I’ve been working hard, especially defensively, and this time I was able to get high a little more and score some goals.”
“Rubbish. Two goals,” joked Orlando head coach Tom Sermanni about his striker’s performance. “I expect at least a hat trick off the bench.”
“She’s been threatening,” noted Sermanni, as he took on a more serious tone. “Her performances for us this year have been fantastic, but she’s just been missing a goal. To get that goal just helps; her confidence now is just soaring.”
“She’s been terrific—her work ethic, her physicality, the way she approaches the game in training has been first-class. Today she got rewarded for that.”
The coach also explained that Leroux’s brace turned the game around for the Pride, who were struggling to contain Chicago after building the early lead.
“I thought we started very well and dropped off when we went two-nil up and Chicago came back very strongly,” said the coach. “I think probably the turning point of the game was us getting back in front so quickly after they equalized and that just gave us a buffer, knocked them back a little bit, and we were able to go and win the game.”
Leroux’s performance proved even more impressive considering she had been out of training all week due to a bad illness. Sermanni pulled his forward out of the starting XI right before the team’s midweek match against North Carolina after she started struggling during warm-ups.
“That’s what happens when you get married,” said Sermanni. “Dom [Dwyer] actually picked up a bug on Tuesday, passed it on to Syd on Wednesday. She tried on Wednesday to play, but she just had no energy.
“Basically she hadn’t done anything [this week], so it was too much of a risk to start her today, but I think her coming on in this heat and doing what she did was fantastic.”
John D. Halloran is an American Soccer Now columnist. Follow him on Twitter.