Marisa Viggiano is a midfielder for the Orlando Pride of the NWSL. Ahead of her club’s first match in nearly a year (Saturday, 9/19, against North Carolina), she spoke with JWS about expectations and goals for this NWSL Fall Series.

Can you talk a bit about this long, extended offseason and what it’s been like for you mentally and physically?

I think when we play this week it’ll be almost a year since we’ve stepped on the field, which is kind of crazy to think about. It’s felt like a prolonged offseason with a couple of different preseasons mixed into it. But yeah, mentally, it has definitely been tough because as athletes, we like to perform and be out on the field, in live game settings.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, so just having my teammates, my family, and friends all there as great support systems through this time has been so amazing. I’m so grateful for all of them and our staff, who have been wonderful throughout this all. I think we’re all just so eager and excited to get back out there this weekend.

As you finish up your third ‘preseason,’ what is the team’s mindset going into this Fall Series? Do you approach this week any differently than, say, in March or in July before the Challenge Cup?

I don’t think so. I think there’s a lot more excitement this time around because it has been so long. But really, we’re just preparing to face the Courage by going over film, positional play, and all of that stuff.  So, it’s typically the same things that we probably would have been doing back in March or before the Challenge Cup, just a bit more eagerness.

Everyone’s really excited to be back and to have the opportunity to play in these four games. Practices have been really good, really competitive, and at a high level. So yeah, we just want to get out there and compete. It’s been a really long time.

There are a lot of players from around the league that have either been loaned to teams in Europe or signed there. How do you think that will affect the Fall Series?

We do have a lot of new faces, especially younger players. For the players who have been here, we’re just trying to bring them in, make them feel comfortable, and just be there as a support system.

It’s obviously going to be different having new faces out there, but we’re not expecting this next game to go perfectly. I think we really just want to focus on progressing throughout these four games, gaining confidence and experience.

As a whole, I don’t think the league will be affected too much. Even last week’s game, between Sky Blue and the Spirit, was still super competitive and went down to stoppage time with that final goal. So I think there will still be high-level soccer within this Fall Series, which is a testament to the league and all of the players involved.

What can we expect from the Orlando Pride during this Fall Series?

We’re going to go out there and just kind of run around and be excited. But once we settle down, we still want to implement our style of being aggressive and just playing good football.

Over these last few weeks, we’ve been really focusing on being more assertive and more aggressive, especially in the final third and in our defending. So I think you’ll see that translate onto the field over these next four games.

And what can we expect from you during these four games?

I think the biggest thing for me is just continuing to get experience at this level and to continue getting minutes. And I think that will help grow my confidence. It’s only my second year, so I still get nerves going into games and everything, but I think these four games will really allow me to kind of situate myself, gain confidence, and try new things out.

Anything else you’d like to mention?

Just be ready for us. That’s the biggest thing.

want more? subscribe to the newsletter.