Soccer and science share many traits.
The spinal cord is one of them.
Humans can’t function without it, and a good spine in soccer goes a long way in assuring a team’s success.
The spine of the team is its core group of players, with the strongest ones featuring talented athletes at every position group.
“It’s critical. If you don’t have a spine, you’re not going to win games,” Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni said.
Orlando’s spine is unlike any other in the National Women’s Soccer League. If an opponent runs from one end of the pitch to the other, the team will run into a line of top players. It begins with goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris. It moves to center backs Monica and Ali Krieger, followed by midfielders Dani Weatherholt and Alanna Kennedy. It finishes with Marta and Alex Morgan.
The backline connects Orlando like the nerves and vertebrae of a spinal cord.
“It’s kind of being well-rounded at different parts, but the back is probably where it starts,” Sermanni said. “And that’s why you see most successful teams are solid and consistent with the goalkeeper and the two center backs and one central midfield player. That’s usually a common denominator in most successful teams.”
The NWSL has teams with a solid core of players. But none of them have the international flavor and experience the Pride boast. Krieger says Orlando is at the top.
“Absolutely, and I’m not saying that because this is my first year, but I’m saying that because we do,” Krieger said. “You look around the field and we have eight or nine international players. That’s more than any other team in the league.”
Just like the human body, the spine of a team doesn’t work if it’s not in sync. It’s a long process to figure out and Orlando has hit is stride during its four-game winning streak.
“You’re demanding a lot of each other and I’m getting better learning from the other players as well and…