Orlando Pride fans got a better idea of what their team will look like come next spring.
The Pride selected nine players in Monday's NWSL Expansion Draft (actually ten, but their first overall pick was made on behalf of the Portland Thorns), adding to the core of their squad, which already included Alex Morgen, Sarah Hagen, and Kaylyn Kyle.
"We're really pleased with our selections in today's draft," said Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni in a team release. "After carefully analyzing the list of unprotected players, we feel very confident that we've chosen a core group of players that will help make this team very competitive in the club's inaugural season."
Arguably the biggest addition from Monday's draft was Washington Spirit goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, a Brevard County native who was is excited to come back home and play for her new hometown club.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to be here today and to be picked up by such an amazing club." Harris said on a post-draft conference call. "I'm thankful to be back where I started my journey here in the Central Florida area."
It was long-rumored before the draft that Harris would be picked up by the Pride, and now the 30-year-old Cocoa Beach native, who played at Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, can call Orlando her home.
Some other tidbits from the conference call:
- General Manager Paul McDonough said that the Pride don't currently have any agreements in place with any other clubs over the players selected in today's draft, meaning no players are currently expected to be flipped to other clubs in trades. McDonough does expect that he'll be getting calls from clubs in the coming weeks, as the draft dust settles.
- McDonough said the decision to not take any FC Kansas City players in the draft had nothing to do with the Sarah Hagen trade, noting that the handful of players on FCKC considering retirement was the main factor in not picking any of that team's players.
- The Pride focused mainly on forwards and defenders in the draft, and Sermanni said it had more to do with the club's strategy to pick mostly the best players available, and not necessarily focus on team needs with the resources of roster construction very limited.
- As former head coach of the Australian Women's National Team, Sermanni said that he did look very closely at bringing a couple more players to Orlando through the draft, but noted that with the possibility of Australia qualifying for the Olympics next summer it was tough to make the call on bringing in those players. He does see them as a good fit in NWSL, though.
- Following the expansion draft, Sermanni says the team still has needs all over the field. Specifically, he'd still like to fill the midfield, add some depth at the forward spot, and reassure the back line.
- Like Harris, Toni Pressley is also a Brevard county native, and like Harris, she pushed to come back home and play for the Pride. Harris also said she actually knew Pressley as a kid growing up, which is a pretty cool link between the new teammates.
- Sermanni called Lianne Sanderson a "a top class international player that doesn't take up an international slot," and also joked that he drafted Sanderson because the club needed at least one English player around the make the team.
Keep following The Mane Land for much more expansion draft and Orlando Pride coverage.