As they continue to build their roster ahead of the 2016 season, Orlando Pride already has a blueprint to follow, thanks to their MLS affiliate:
- Go out and sign a star player? Check.
- Fill out the roster and snag some trade-worthy assets through the expansion draft? Done.
But as the Pride get closer to preseason training and the start of their first season in the NWSL, they can't afford to stop and appreciate the work they've already done. With their roster currently sitting at 14 players, the club still has to acquire between four and six more players before its inaugural season kicks off.
The period between the expansion draft and training camp proved to be crucial for Orlando City, as the Lions acquired Brek Shea and Carlos Rivas during that two-month window.
Orlando Pride isn't wasting any time filling out their roster, acquiring two international players who figure to play large roles in 2015. The club inked Brazilian defender Monica Hickmann Alves on Tuesday before acquiring Australian left back Stephanie-Elise Catley in a trade with the Portland Thorns on Thursday.
Both players will take-up international slots after competing for their respective nations at last summer's FIFA Women's World Cup.
Let's take a closer look at the players the Pride acquired this week:
Monica Hickmann Alves
Monica, a 28-year-old center back, didn't make her debut for the Seleção until last year, but she's come on strong since joining the national team. She started every game for Brazil at the 2015 World Cup, anchoring a back line that allowed only one goal despite a disappointing exit in the Round of 16.
Playing her club soccer with Ferroviária in Brazil, Monica led the Maroon Warriors (this is a Wikipedia certified nickname) to several big domestic prizes. She pulled off a double in 2014 as Ferroviária captured the Campeonato Brasileiro and the Copo do Brasil. That club also supplied the Brazilian national team with seven of the players on their World Cup roster, so Monica certainly wasn't playing with scrubs.
And while not known for her offense, she did manage to freeze Hope Solo a couple months ago.
You can expect Monica to be starter for Orlando Pride next season, as she's already proven herself on one of the best national teams in the world. But it's going to be interesting to see if there's an adjustment period for Monica upon joining the NWSL, which is a considerably stronger domestic league than the one in her native Brazil.
Postion: Left Back
In another move that should beef up Orlando's defense, the Pride made a trade with Portland for left back Steph Catley on Thursday. Catley came up big for her country this season, starting for Australia at the World Cup and and pulling this off...
She's the one on the right, earning a FIFA 16 cover appearance in the game's Australian release. After setting a Thorns record for most consecutive games with an assist in 2014 (4) she spent most of the 2015 season on national team duty.
That appeared to be a big reason why Portland was willing to part with her (in exchange for goalkeeper Adrianna Franch and a third-round draft pick). Catley will miss a significant part of the 2016 season competing at the Summer Olympics and Portland appeared unwilling to use an international slot on someone who's going to miss a chunk of games.
But the price tag wasn't steep, so this appears to be a solid move for the Pride. Catley is only 21 and could be a big part of the Pride's roster for years to come. See for yourself...