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Orlando Pride wanted to fill the Orlando Citrus Bowl

5:03 AM
The Orlando Pride wanted to fill the Orlando Citrus Bowl. Not only did they want to fill it, they wanted it to be #FilledWithPride.

This was not some marketing gimmick. This was something more of a statement. Not just about Orlandos sudden and strong love affair with soccer. But also that this city was going to suppor a lot more than traditional mens sports. That this city was truly becoming a sports metropolis with something for everyone.

Fans in the supporters section chanted Our City, Our Pride! There was a small banner in support of U.S. Womens Soccer players Hope Solo Jersey bid for equal pay Equal Pay for Equal Play it read. There was no sense that this was anything more than a normal Saturday night soccer game.

A NWSL-record crowd of 23,403 fans filled the Orlando Citrus Bowl and the Orlando Pride gave them reason to celebrate. And celebrate again and celebrate again.

The first half was the fans introduction to the team as Orlando Pride pushed the pressure. The second half was about Alex Morgan and that offense as the Orlando Pride won their first game as a franchise 3-1 over the Houston Dash at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday.

In a span of about 15 minutes, the Orlando Pride sent the whole stadium into euphoria, putting on a clinic in goal scoring and team play, making good on several threats throughout the first half. Unlike the opener in Portland, Orlando looked much more connected and comfortable playing together.

Alex Morgan had a role in two of the goals, scoring her first goal of the season on some beautiful team play to wrap up the scoring on some beautiful touch passing from Jasmyne Spencer and Steph Catley Spencer used her great speed to get down the wing and left the ball off for Catley on the overlap. Catley brought the ball along the end line and slotted it to Morgan to complete Orlandos scoring.

The Pride dominated before then too. This goal merely a culmination of the celebration.

Morgan fired a shot in the box that ricocheted off Houston defender Andressa about a minute into the second half. Orlandos Lianne Sanderson then caught the Dash defense napping, firing in a direct free kick into the net while the defense seemed to be still setting itself up.

No matter how those goals went in or the incredible saves goalie Ashlyn Harris made, including one in the 19th minute on a one-v.-one with Houstons Janine Beckie the Orlando faithful were happy to celebrate this latest soccer accomplishment.

The Pride announced themselves to orlando, not that they really needed to. Orlando had already bought in to womens soccer Alex Morgan Jersey.

The crowd will undoubtedly die down for the teams second home game May 8. But it will not die down much. Orlando City still fills the stadium with 30,000 on most weekends even when they are not gunning for 60,000. It is not unrealistic for Orlando Pride to top 10,000 for its games moving forward.

The product is certainly entertaining enough to continue drawing fans in.

It is a new era for soccer in Orlando. For sports in Orlando once again. Several major professional womens teams have come through Orlando and fallen to the wayside currently the USSA Pride play National Pro Fastpitch Softball out of Disney, but the Orlando Miracle (WNBA) and Orlando Wahoos (Softball) have come and gone with hardly any notice. This one though has staying power. Alex Morgans star power presence certainly helps.

On this opening night, Orlando had plenty to be proud of. The Orlando Pride most of all. They put on a great game and a strong performance for their inaugural game.

Once again, early in the season, anything seems possible for this team.