It’s been a long off-season for the Orlando Pride, with a couple of months left before the club takes the field for its second season in the NWSL.
Head Coach Tom Sermanni and his staff have been working hard to retool a Pride side that surprised many early in the season with a strong performance out of the gates, before fizzling out in the summer months and eventually finishing ninth in the league table.
The biggest news coming out of Orlando this off-season — other than the near completion of the club’s new downtown soccer stadium — was Alex Morgan, the Pride’s star and captain, announcing a loan transfer to Lyon in France until rejoining the Pride in June. While Sermanni understands Morgan’s decision to test herself overseas in France, he also nudged away the notion that it’s had a big effect on the construction of the roster this off-season.
“We’re still in a little bit of a state of flux in getting our team organized, to be honest,” Sermanni told Mane Land writer Austin David at yesterday’s NWSL College Draft. “So I don’t think it’s necessarily ‘we haven’t got Alex’ or we need to do x, y and z. I think we’re just going to approach the preseason with the fact that this is the squad we’ve got and what’s the best way to play with that squad.”
The Pride still have plenty of work to do, with just 16 players on the roster, including draftees.
“[We’re] probably a decent way away, at this stage.” Sermanni said. “How many personnel changes happen, I really don’t know. We’ve got a couple of trades in the offing at the moment. Our first priority at the moment is to try and get our international slots tied up. Then we can start planning the stuff around that, so when we get that done, we can have a better idea and a better plan for how we’re going to start.”
But Sermanni isn’t idly sitting by waiting for the chance to build the rest of his squad. He has a plan to fill in the final spots of his roster.
“Just try and get players in there, the best players that we can. What I basically said to the players last year was that when we come into this league and when we made a commitment to the players we signed, I felt really strongly that we honor that commitment to those players last year,” Sermanni said. “But coming into this second year, it’s very important that the commitment’s to the club. So, between now and the start of the season the plan is to assemble the best squad possible and that’ll mean that some players that were with us last year won’t be there and that we’ll add to the squad and try to improve the quality.”