Alanna Kennedy insists Orlando Pride’s spirit is unshakable as the Westfield Matildas defender prepares to face Portland Thorns on Monday (AEST).
The 24-year-old last turned out for Pride on May 6, in a 1-0 defeat at Houston Dash, before jetting out to France to help Australia reach the knockout stages of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
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In the 62 days between Kennedy’s last two Pride appearances, the Florida side were only able to collect four points from six National Women’s Soccer League matches.
The returns of Kennedy, fellow Westfield Matilda Emily van Egmond and seven other FIFA Women’s World Cup™ stars, including Brazilian legend Martha and USA striker Alex Morgan, is set to give Pride the boost they need.
With some of the internationals back in Orlando’s line-up last week, they clinched a dramatic 4-3 win against Washington Spirit with Martha netting twice, and Kennedy believes this is only the beginning.
“Coming off our win last week, we’ve got some good momentum,” Kennedy told Matildas.com.au.
“I think there has been a shift in mentality. For me, coming back from the World Cup, it’s really exciting to see the team morale has been high while we were gone, even though we may not have got the results we wanted.
“But I think getting that win last weekend and having a couple of extra players from the World Cup back give us a little more as well.”
The three points from the seven-goal thriller against Washington was only Orlando’s second win of the 2019 campaign, meaning they still lie some way off the top half of the NWSL ladder.
Monday’s match against Portland takes us to the halfway mark of the campaign and van Egmond praised the players who kept Pride in contention during her absence.
“It’s was a nice way to come back into the team,” van Egmond said.
“It was my first win personally with the team this year. The girls have been working extremely hard while all of the internationals have been away in France.
“So to come back and help the team, however asked, is a nice feeling.”
Kennedy and van Egmond could be lining up against some familiar faces at Providence Park, in the form of Emily Carpenter, Hayley Raso and Caitlin Foord, but their Westfield Matildas teammates will not be getting any favours.
“It’s nice to see your teammates when you play against them but when you cross that white line, there’s no friends,” van Egmonds explained.
“When you’re on the field, it’s all business,” added Kennedy.
“If anything, it’s a good thing to be able to understand how those players work so I’m looking forward to playing against them.”