The Orlando Pride have signed midfielder Dani Weatherholt to a new contract. Per team and league policies, terms of the contact were not announced. The San Clemente, CA, native partnered with Alanna Kennedy in 2017 to solidify the Pride’s defensive midfield.
The signing of Weatherholt, 23, leaves just Kennedy, Steph Catley and Chioma Ubogagu unsigned, though all three have been extended contracts by the club.
“We’re delighted to have agreed to a new deal with Dani,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “Dani had a terrific 2017 season and has taken great steps in her development over her two years with us. We look forward to seeing her continuing to grow and contributing to the Pride in 2018.”
The Pride’s third pick (31st overall) in the 2016 NWSL College Draft out of Santa Clara University, Weatherholt, appeared in 19 of the team’s 24 regular-season games and in the semifinal match at Portland. She started 17 times in the regular season and in the playoff game. She didn’t dress only for the June 3 win vs. Boston and she was an unused sub June 17 and 24, July 1, and Aug. 8. The Pride went 3-2 when she didn’t play and 2-2 when she was an unused sub.
In her 1,486 minutes on the field during the 2017 regular season, Weatherholt scored one goal — the first of her career, which came Aug. 12 in a 5-0 win over Sky Blue FC — and added an assist, fired eight shots (three on target), completed 81.6% of her passes, and had 20 clearances. She committed 20 fouls — earning only one yellow card — and earned 12 free kicks. Her passing rate was fifth best on the team out of players who made at least five appearances.
Her goal was a slam dunk on a sitter provided by Camila’s magic.
In her rookie year of 2016 Weatherholt made 12 appearances (nine starts) without recording a goal or assist. She has also represented the U.S. at the U-23 level.
What it Means for the Pride
While an important signing for Orlando, this is just the tip of the spear. The Pride’s three remaining unsigned players all played vital roles in 2017, especially Catley and Kennedy. But you’ve got to start somewhere and Weatherholt is developing into a dependable midfielder who can pressure the ball and help shield the back line. She earned a solid rating of 7 for the 2017 season in our end-of-year player reviews. Having her back will continue the team’s growing chemistry on the pitch.
With two seasons under her belt, Weatherholt is still growing in the game and it’s unlikely she’s reached the ceiling of what she can become on a good Pride team under the tutelage of Sermanni. The club can rest easier — but not too easy — knowing one of four key unsigned players at the end of 2017 is now under contract.