The difference between OCB on Saturday and the Pride was sharply noticeable. A sunny and clear day for the men was loud, crowded and chaotic on the fields, as Head Coach Anthony Pulis attempted to find players for his USL side. Sunday greeted the Orlando Pride prospects and Head Coach Tom Sermanni with much cooler temperatures, with chilling winds, overcast skies and the occasional sprinkle.
However, the mood carried a sense of stillness and intensity. Sermanni initially expected attendance at the tryout to be around 40 players, but 96 women registered to prove to the Pride staff that they deserved a place on the team's roster for its inaugural NWSL season.
For Orlando, all the key personnel were on hand. In addition to Sermanni, Assistant Coach Khano Smith and Goalkeeping Coach Marcos Machado carefully evaluated participants, while (soon to depart VP of Development) Tim Holt and Founder and President Phil Rawlins observed the tryout. The level of talent was higher across the board compared to the 175 participants for OCB, and the weather did not dampen the intensity on the pitch, even when play was stopped on the field due to an injury. One hopeful's day cut short.
Sermanni sprinted over to check on the fallen player and give some words of encouragement, as she was helped to the trainer's station.
Once the session completed, Sermanni spent time thanking the attendees for coming out to the tryout and shook hands with each one that came close enough to his reach. The team plans to find players it can add to the Pride's amateur roster, as well as a handful of players which can compete for a Pride roster spot. If the NWSL roster rules stay consistent with the 2015 season, the Pride will be able to open preseason camp with a list of up to 32 players. Mark your calendar, Pride fans, as March 12 will be the first day of camp. Contracted players will be able to arrive a day earlier, on the 11th. By the end of the preseason, the team will have to cut the roster down to its 18-20 player limit.
Sermanni also hinted that another international player announcement could be possible since the team still hasn't filled all of its international roster spots.