Kristen Edmonds was the leading goal scorer for the Orlando Pride in 2016, scoring six goals and adding two assists in 19 appearances (all starts) a year ago. After coming over in a trade with the Western New York Flash in December of 2015, she was an important part of the team’s offense during the inaugural season and it appeared she’d be back patrolling the Pride midfield in 2017 as part of an improved attack.
But a funny thing happened along the way. Edmonds, who started the team’s first seven matches of the year in the midfield, suddenly found herself on the team’s back line. With the emergence of Camila as an offensive force and Tom Sermanni having to move Ali Krieger into central defense, there was a void at right back. After Jamia Fields failed to claim the position early, Sermanni placed Edmonds — herself a former defender — at right back in the eighth game of the season and she played in that spot for 13 of the team’s final 17 games.
How did she perform?
Edmonds played in 22 of the club’s 24 regular-season games, starting in 20 of those and playing a total of 1,802 minutes — the sixth most on the team. She opened the season with seven straight starts in the midfield, started the next six in midfield, then came off the bench to replace Chioma Ubogagu and Jasmyne Spencer on the attacking line in the next two matches. After that, she returned to right back for games 16-20 before picking up a knock that kept her out for two games. Edmonds recovered to start the last two games of the year and the playoff match in Portland at right back.
Her offensive output understandably dropped as a result of playing so much defense. Edmonds scored just two goals in 2017 and didn’t record an assist, firing just 14 shots all season (six on target). She passed at a solid 80% clip for the season and tied for fifth on the team in cross attempts, with 24. Her 43 clearances were also fifth best on the club. Edmonds committed only two fouls all year while drawing 14 and was booked only once. She also won 75% of her tackle attempts. In the playoff match at Portland, Edmonds led all players in the game with eight tackles.
Edmonds had a fantastic outing in the season finale at North Carolina Courage on Sept. 30, helping the Pride win by a 3-2 final margin and earn the third seed in the NWSL playoffs. She opened the scoring with a redirect of a cross by Ubogagu, giving the Pride the early lead.
Her 88% passing was second only to Marta in the match. She also finished with two tackles and drew a foul without committing one as she helped the Pride win their first away match against the Western New York Flash/North Carolina Courage franchise in the club’s first two seasons.
2017 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Edmonds a final composite grade of 6 on the season. We felt overall that although she filled in admirably at right back when asked, that it wasn’t her strongest position. It presented a vulnerability for opponents to exploit and she sometimes struggled there to become involved in the attack the way Steph Catley did on the left side. Dropping into a defensive position certainly led to her drop in offensive production — although she wasn’t exactly lighting it up in the first seven games from the midfield — but she also appeared to be targeted by opposing teams’ attacks much of the year and certainly was early in the playoff match at Portland. Overall, Edmonds had a solid season but it seemed a drop-off from 2016.
Edmonds showed both her importance to the team and her versatility in 2017. As a result, the club picked up her contract option for 2018. It’s unclear where Edmonds will fit best in 2018. Sermanni will be on the hunt for right back help this off-season or potentially moving Krieger back to that spot. Edmonds could help the attack from the midfield while Camila works her way back from her knee injury. Or, now north of age 30, Edmonds could take more of a super sub role — one she filled well in games 14 and 15 this season when she came off the bench, scoring in the first of those on a great hustle play July 15 vs. FC Kansas City.
As an NWSL veteran with the ability to play on both ends of the pitch, she could also be a valuable asset to use in a trade. Ultimately, I suspect Edmonds returns in 2018 and fills in for Camila before dropping to the bench to provide quality depth.