The Orlando Pride announced that the club has acquired Australian international defender Alanna Kennedy from the newly relocated North Carolina Courage in exchange for midfielder Sam Wittemann.
Kennedy, who appeared in 15 games in her first NWSL season with the league champion Western New York Flash in 2016, can play both center back and holding midfielder, and joins a Pride back line that already includes two of her fellow Matildas, Laura Alleway and Steph Catley.
“In bringing in Alanna we have acquired one of the best center backs in the league and a high-quality, international player,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “Though she’s just 21, Alanna has extensive experience with Australia and she will be a terrific addition that both strengthens and adds experience to our lineup next season.”
Kennedy made her professional debut when she was just 16, helping lead Sydney FC to the Westfield W-League regular season title in 2011. In 2012, she made her first senior team appearance for the Australian national team, and has since made 50 appearances, representing the Matildas in both the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the Rio Olympics in Brazil last summer.
Witteman, meanwhile, goes to North Carolina after a promising debut season for the Pride last season. The club’s first-round draft pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft — and first draft selection ever — appeared in 16 games, being used as a versatile weapon for Sermanni, playing both midfield and defense throughout the season.
“Sam has been a fantastic player and a great teammate with wonderful character,” Sermanni said in the release. “She will be missed both on and off the field and we are very sad to see her leave the club. We wish her the best of luck in North Carolina.”