The Orlando Pride have announced that they've traded midfielder Lianne Sanderson to the Western New York Flash in return for an international slot for the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons.
The 28-year-old English international was selected by the Pride in the 2016 NWSL Expansion Draft from the Portland Thorns in November. Formerly playing for Arsenal Ladies, in addition to the Thorns, Sanderson was also a part of England's World Cup team in 2015 that reached the semifinals in Canada. Additionally she plays in Cyprus during the NWSL's off-season.
According to Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni, Sanderson approached the club looking for a move away from Orlando.
"Lianne approached us looking for a new opportunity," Sermanni said via the club's press release. "And I am happy we were able to accommodate her request and come to a mutually-beneficial deal for the Pride, the Flash, and, of course, Lianne. We want to thank Lianne for all she has contributed to the club and the city of Orlando on and off the field, especially in light of recent events. Both personally and professionally I'd like to wish her great success in Rochester."
Sanderson appeared in eight of the nine games this season for the Pride, recording two goals and an assist.
"I love this city; it is a special place. I want to thank the amazing fans for embracing me and who I am," Sanderson said in the club release. "I am excited for what is ahead for me and I wish the team the best of luck for the future."
The Pride and Flash have met twice this season, with each team winning 1-0 at home. The two clubs will not meet again in the regular season, so the Pride wouldn't face Sanderson on the pitch this year unless both reach the postseason.
As for what the trade means to the Pride, that remains to be seen what the club does with the international slot. Sanderson was a valuable playmaker and provided an offensive spark coming off the bench in several games. What she lacks in pace she makes up for in vision and passing ability, and she can score goals -- something the Pride have struggled with, particularly on the road.
The club has several needs, including a pacey attacking threat to complement Alex Morgan (and play her role when she's away with the USWNT), a goalkeeper -- due to Aubrey Bledsoe's season-ending injury and Ashlyn Harris' international responsibilities -- and depth on the back line. How Sermanni uses the asset required to address these needs will ultimately determine the value of the trade.
The Pride are home Thursday night against the Houston Dash at 7:30 p.m. and again Sunday against the Portland Thorns at 5 p.m.