This NWSL off-season has seen some of the league’s biggest stars changing addresses as teams position themselves for the 2018 season.
The high-profile names could make up an all-star team: Sam Kerr, Christen Press, Kelley O’Hara, Allie Long, Crystal Dunn, Taylor Smith, Janine Beckie, Shea Groom, and Carli Lloyd are all on the list. But while Sky Blue, Houston Dash, Chicago Red Stars, North Carolina Courage, Portland Thorns, and other teams play musical stars, things have been quiet in Orlando.
Tom Sermanni and Niki Budalic brought BYU forward Nadia Gomes to the team in yesterday’s NWSL College Draft, and the team re-signed midfielder Dani Weatherholt just days ago. That’s it, so far.
But that’s not a bad thing. Sermanni has said repeatedly this off-season that he likes the core of his team and would like to make small adjustments rather than sweeping changes to a squad that finished in third place and won two of three games against the Shield winners.
Of course, that could change if the club has trouble re-signing Australian stars Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley, or forward Chioma Ubogagu. However, that’s not expected to be the case. Word on the street is that a trade actually is imminent, although we have no idea at this point if it involves the level of talent that was involved in yesterday’s blockbuster three-team deal that sent Kerr to Chicago, Press to Houston, and Lloyd to Sky Blue.
Just talked with Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni, who is very happy with his draft pick and the core of the team. But ... the Pride have an undisclosed trade in the works the club hopes finalize soon.— Iliana Limón Romero (@osiliana) January 18, 2018
Unless there’s a big shakeup coming, and, again, I don’t expect one, Sermanni is playing it smart. While other teams are bringing in talent — and also losing it — they’ll have to adjust to new lineups and some of the chemistry that previously existed may be disrupted, at least temporarily. By bringing back largely the same group as last year, Sermanni has a head start after playing catch-up in the cohesiveness department over the club’s first year and a half of existence.
Sure, there will be a bit of a wait for Camila to return from her knee injury, but aside from that, bringing back the majority of the major pieces of the team could pay dividends at the start of the NWSL season — which starts earlier in 2018 than it has in the past.
While we wait to see which particular shoe drops when the trade happens, it’s nice to be able to sit back, look at the hand we’ve been dealt, and not have to draw any cards. Let the other teams blow things up. It would be good to be the club with the stable roster. After all, the Pride finished the 2017 season as one of the league’s hottest teams. Starting 2018 that way could pave the way to bigger and better things in the season — and postseason — ahead.