The Orlando Pride announced the team's first three players at a press conference at The Abbey today. The Pride introduced striker Alex Morgan, midfielder Kaylyn Kyle and striker Sarah Hagen to media members and fans. The long-rumored Morgan/Kyle deal with Portland was one of soccer's worst-kept secrets, but the introduction of Hagen was a bit more of a surprise.
"It was a horrible secret," Morgan said, laughing.
The United States Women's National Team star forward, who scored a goal yesterday for the USWNT in a 3-1 friendly against Brazil said she was excited to finally be able to wear purple in public, now that the trade has been announced. She also said she hoped yesterday's goal was the first of many she'll score in the Citrus Bowl, which will host the Pride in their inaugural 2016 NWSL season.
To get Morgan and Kyle, the Pride paid a pretty steep price. In exchange, the Portland Thorns will receive the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, the rights to Orlando's first pick in the 2015 Expansion Draft (which is rumored to be defender Meghan Klingenberg), and an international roster spot for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. To acquire Hagen, along with FC Kansas City's second-round selection (No. 15 overall) in the 2016 NWSL College Draft, the Pride gave up their second-round selection in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. So Orlando will have no first-round pick in the college draft this year, but will have two second-round picks.
"I'm really excited to be a part of this organization," Morgan said.
Orlando City Owner and Founder Phil Rawlins said at the presser that the club wanted to do things the right way with the Pride and the club is off to a great start adding three quality players to the roster immediately.
"Alex Morgan is a dynamic, prolific striker in the global women's game, with all of the qualities that we look for in a star player," said Orlando City General Manager Paul McDonough in a club press release." Her career and accomplishments in the game speak for themselves. She will instantly raise the profile of the Orlando Pride, and help develop an attacking style of play for the team."
"Kaylyn Kyle and Sarah Hagen bring additional international experience and a championship pedigree to Orlando," McDonough continued. "Kaylyn is a tough tackling midfielder with extensive league experience. Sarah has a strong track record of scoring goals both domestically and abroad. We expect Sarah and Alex will form a potentially lethal partnership on the attack. These three signings bring world class talent to the squad and we look forward to adding other exciting players in the upcoming Expansion and College Drafts."
"I think it's important that the foundation players that we brought in had the qualities that these players have got," said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni. "The fact that I know them and have worked with them is a bonus and certainly very, very helpful. The key of the three players that we've brought here is the fact that they will then attract other players to come here and that's a critical factor."
Kaylyn Kyle was very gracious and thankful in her post-presser remarks to the Portland Thorns organization, but she was also effervescent in her excitement at being one of the Pride's first signings.
"To be one of the first players is amazing but now it's to make a name for it, win championships, win leagues, and win games."
"It's so nice (getting the announcement out)," Kyle said. "Just getting tweets from people being like ‘Welcome to Orlando,' I wanted to favorite every one of them but had to hold off. It's like a little weight lifted off your shoulder and now you can really focus on the 2016 season and already start training. So we go into national team camp in November and, post that, come in here fit, strong and healthy and I just can't wait for it."
The Canadian international said she has no doubt the Pride will be successful right away.
"Tom's such a smart guy and this organization is absolutely first class, so I have no concerns about what kind of team he's going to build. It's going to be successful. It's going to be great soccer to watch and fun for the fans to come out and support this team."
Kyle has more than 100 caps with the Canadian women's national team and 70 pro appearances for Vancouver Whitecaps women's team, Seattle Reign, Boston Breakers, Houston Dash and Portland Thorns.
Hagen, who has scored eight goals in 26 games with FC Kansas City, racked up 38 goals in 50 games for Bayern Munich's women's team over two seasons. She has won a German Cup title (2012), an NWSL championship (2014) and has two career caps with the USWNT (2014). Hagen said she was thrilled to be part of a new NWSL club.
"It's unbelievable. It shows that they have a good, solid belief in me," she said. "Being a part of a new organization, you kind of get to write your own story. So, everything's new, starting from a fresh beginning. I'm really looking forward to getting on the field in March."
As for filling out the rest of the roster, Sermanni said the club has definite ideas of what they're looking for.
"We're looking at two things. We're looking at the type of player as in on-field, but we're also looking at the character of the player, to fit in with the culture we want to build around the club," he said. "It's hard to specify because you're looking for a blend. You're looking for both types of players. You're looking at a balance of young players and experience players."