The Orlando Pride have released their 20-player roster for the 2017 NWSL season and there are no big surprises. The one unfortunate bit of news is that defender McKenzie Berryhill has been placed on the season-ending injury list. In addition, Rachel Hill will not join the team until she finishes school at the University of Connecticut. Hill was acquired in the off-season from Portland.
The club has signed both 2017 draft picks, forward Danica Evans and midfielder Nickolette Driesse.
“I’m really excited to officially be a member of the team; it’s has already been a fun and challenging experience for me,” Evans said in a club press release. “I’m just very grateful I get to start my professional career at a top organization like the Pride.”
“I’m so thankful for this opportunity with the Pride and I’m looking forward to continuing to play with some of the best players in the world,” Driesse added in the release. “I can’t wait to see what this season has in store, both as a player and for the club as a whole.”
The Pride have six international roster slots filled for 2017: defenders Laura Alleway (Australia), Steph Catley (Australia), Monica (Brazil), and Alanna Kennedy (Australia); midfielder Camila Martins Pereira (Brazil), and forward Marta (Brazil). Orlando has three federation players on the roster, all from the USWNT: defender Ali Krieger, goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris, and forward Alex Morgan, who will rejoin the club after Lyon wraps up its season.
The goalkeeper position remains unchanged, with both Harris and Aubrey Bledsoe returning from the 2016 squad. Accomplished internationals Kennedy and Krieger bolster the back line in 2017. Camila and Driesse are the new midfield additions, while Danica Evans, former Houston Dash striker Chioma Ubogagu – who had a strong preseason – and Marta augment Tom Sermanni’s attacking group up top.
Orlando should be a much stronger team in 2017. Sermanni and GM Niki Budalic have addressed the club’s big areas of need. Kennedy and Krieger will help to stop up a defense that leaked too many goals in 2016, while Pressley appears to have become much stronger and fitter in the off-season. Marta should help create chances and score goals, as well as providing a star presence to draw defenders away from other players. Her addition will mitigate the delay in getting Morgan back, as well.
The Pride return their top three goal scorers from 2016. Kristen Edmonds led the way with six last year, with Jasmyne Spencer and Morgan each contributing four. Having all three back and the signing of Marta should help Sermanni’s club score more goals in 2017.
The club will hold its 2017 Media Day on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s season opener at Portland Thorns at 3 p.m. in Lifetime’s first ever NWSL Game of the Week.
2017 Orlando Pride Roster
Goalkeepers: (2): Aubrey Bledsoe, Ashlyn Harris (FED-USA).
Defenders (8): Laura Alleway (INTL-AUS), Mackenzie Berryhill (SEI), Steph Catley (INTL-AUS), Monica Hickmann Alves (INTL-BRA, OOM), Alanna Kennedy (INTL-AUS), Ali Krieger (FED-USA), Cami Levin, Toni Pressley.
Midfielders (5): Nickolette Driesse, Kristen Edmonds, Maddy Evans, Camila Martins Pereira (INTL-BRA), Dani Weatherholt,
Forwards: (7): Christina Burkenroad, Danica Evans, Jamia Fields, Alex Morgan (FED-USA, OOM), Jasmyne Spencer, Chioma Ubogagu, Marta Vieira da Silva (INTL-BRA).
Rostered Players: (20 of 20 spots filled).
Federation Players (FED): 3 – Morgan, Harris, Krieger.
International Roster Slots Filled (INTL): 6 – Alleway, Catley, Kennedy, Monica, Camila, Marta.