Jamia Fields entered the 2017 season with a lot to prove in the NWSL. Entering the season at just 23 years of age, Fields had yet to take that next step in her career from raw athleticism to fully formed soccer player ready to become a regular in the top flight.
With Alex Morgan starting the season in Lyon, Fields would be given opportunities to show what she could do up top, while Tom Sermanni still had visions of perhaps finding a regular spot for her at fullback. She ended up playing in both positions over the course of the 2017 season, but never fully seized her spot on a talented Orlando Pride roster that evolved over the course of the season.
The Pride’s No. 5 pick in the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft, Fields played in 12 games in 2016, starting six. She entered the 2017 season with no goals and one assist to her credit with Orlando, filling in at a number of positions during a turbulent inaugural season for the team, which saw its depth tested to the limit by injuries and international call-ups. Could the Alta Loma, CA, native make her mark in 2017?
Fields got into more games (16) and started more times (seven) in 2017 than in 2016, but her overall minutes dipped from 627 to 596. She started the first two matches at right back before returning to the bench. Sermanni started her up top for the three straight games from May 14-27. She also started on the attacking line June 28 and then in the midfield on Aug. 5.
Over the course of the season, Fields did not score a goal and registered one assist, attempting nine shots and getting two on goal. She completed just 68.8% of her passes – an area that continues to need improvement in her game. She did manage to win more fouls (12) than she conceded (10) and was not booked all season.
Fields registered her lone assist on May 14 in a 3-1 win over the North Carolina Courage. The Courage entered the match 4-0-0 on the season against a Pride team that had yet to find its stride, coming into the game without a win. Nevertheless, Orlando came together as a team and Fields contributed with an assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal by Camila. She fed a perfect through-ball behind the North Carolina defense, leaving Camila one-on-one with the goalkeeper for the easy finish.
Fields also got her only shot attempt of the game on target and passed at an impressive 88% clip for the match in her 82 minutes. The one flaw in her game was being offside three times, but it showed that she was willing to test the boundaries of the Courage defense and make herself an offensive threat.
2017 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Fields a 4.5 composite grade for the season. While we as a staff felt that Fields played OK in an attacking position, she didn’t quite develop as a fullback and her passing and reading of the game could have been better. We also deducted from her grade for missing the net on what we felt were good scoring chances. Fields could have shown more composure in the final third and she definitely could have worked opposing goalkeepers more.
Fields played only 32 minutes over the last eight regular-season matches, as she was unable to stake her claim to more playing time. She saw the pitch only three times during the Pride’s season-ending nine-game unbeaten streak as a late-game sub and in one of those matches she committed a foul in the box in stoppage time that prevented the Pride from grabbing a third consecutive shutout.
While her overall grade may not show it, we did feel that Fields displayed value and versatility to provide good depth on the Orlando roster. She contributed to the overall success of the team in 2017 and that was reflected when the club picked up her contract option for 2018. Still just 24 years old, Fields can still develop into a better attacking player and likely she just needs more consistent minutes to fit better into what the Pride wants to do.
It’s unclear whether she’ll get that opportunity with the strength of this squad as is. Our most likely projection for 2018 is that Fields will again provide depth at multiple positions and give Sermanni a speed option off the bench late in games.