The Orlando Pride and Chioma Ubogagu have agreed to a new contract. The terms of the contract have not been disclosed.
“We’re delighted to have Chi back this season. She had a good first season with us in 2017 and played an important role for the club,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “We’re looking forward to seeing her grow as a player and member of the Pride this season.”
Last year when Alex Morgan went to Lyon for a few months, the Pride needed extra help in the attack and sought out Ubogagu. Orlando traded just a third-round pick for the forward, who had a breakout year in 2017. Chi played in 20 games last season, 16 of them starts, including the Pride’s sole playoff game. She scored four goals and added three assists.
Chi played many roles for Sermanni in 2017, even playing on the back line for the first time when the Pride were short on numbers because of injuries and international call-ups. Ubogagu’s impressive play and versatility was good enough to earn her first USWNT call up from Jill Ellis in October, where she got a look at left back.
Ubogagu joined the NWSL in 2015 after being drafted by Sky Blue FC. However, instead of coming straight away, Chi decided to sign with Arsenal Ladies, in her birth place, London (Ubogagu is a dual national). She scored seven goals in 21 games. In 2016 she came back to the States and played with Houston. That was a down year for Ubogagu, who made just 15 appearances scoring one goal and one assist.
She was named the Gatorade Texas Player of the Year in 2010 — an award handed out annually to the best high school athletes in the nation — before attending Stanford and finishing 10th all-time in program history in total points (goals and assists). She scored 27 goals with 35 assists in her Stanford career.
She helped lead the Cardinal to the 2011 NCAA Championship as a freshman, was a four-time All-Pac 12 honoree and also led her team to the 2012 Women’s College Cup final. In addition, she’s represented the United States at the U-18, U-20, and U-23 levels. Ubogagu won both the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in 2012, scoring the championship-winning goal in the latter.
What it Means for Orlando
The biggest thing for the Pride is that there is now only one bit of off-season business left to complete — the re-signing of Alanna Kennedy, who is headed to the W-League final in her native Australia. The club had four unsigned players heading into the off-season and had offered all of them contracts. Steph Catley was eventually dealt to Seattle, while Dani Weatherholt and Ubogagu have re-signed. That leaves just Kennedy, with preseason training camp approaching on Monday. Kennedy will head to the Algarve Cup with Australia after the W-League final, so we may have to wait a bit for final word on whether the Aussie international will be back with the Pride.
Ubogagu’s ability to play multiple spots will help the club’s depth at several positions. She will have a tough fight on her hands for playing time on the forward line after the club’s acquisition of Sydney Leroux and the emergence of Rachel Hill this off-season but if she can become more consistent in her finishing, she’ll have just as good a shot as anyone at locking down a position in the attack. Her ability to play left back gives Sermanni some options as well and provides coverage in case of injury. Every team needs a few Swiss Army knives and Ubogagu can be one of those for Orlando.