The 27-year-old USWNT striker will join Alex Morgan, Marta, and the rest of the lethal Pride attack in 2018 after the club secured her rights in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 2019. News of the trade was first reported by ProSoccerUSA.com. The Pride got the pick from Seattle Reign FC on Tuesday in exchange for two selections in the Boston Breakers dispersal draft and flipped it today to add Leroux.
That trade, which raised a few eyebrows, was necessary, given that Orlando had already traded its first-round 2019 pick to Washington in the Shelina Zadorsky deal.
“I’m very excited. I mean, I woke up this morning and I’m ready to go,” Leroux said in an exclusive interview with ProSoccerUSA. “I’m ready for season to start. But most importantly for me, our family is together now. … The fact that Cassius can watch both his mom and his dad play in the same city at the same stadium is really a cool thing and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
“We’re very happy we were able to bring Sydney to Orlando,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “She’s a dynamic striker that will bring pace and goal-scoring ability to our group. Her physicality and personality will complement our roster and club and look forward to having her with us.”
Leroux brings a more physical type of forward to Tom Sermanni’s front line — something the Pride need more of against some of the NWSL’s more imposing back lines, that at times pushed Morgan and Marta off the ball (sometimes literally) last season.
“I’m delighted to bring a player of Sydney’s caliber and pedigree to the Pride,” Sermanni said in the club’s release. “Sydney has a great work ethic, strong footballing skills and a wonderful personality that I know will fit in well with the team culture here in Orlando. We’re excited to add her to our already potent offensive force.”
Leroux played with former NWSL side FC Kansas City in 2016 and 2017 and, as with all FCKC players, her rights were transferred to Utah when the new franchise joined the league. She led FCKC in goals in 2017, scoring six times and adding two assists in her 23 matches. It was her first season after returning from giving birth to son Cassius, as the pregnancy kept her out of the 2016 season.
Prior to suiting up for FC Kansas City, Leroux played three games for the Western New York Flash in 2015, scoring once, before going out on international duty, where she helped the USWNT win the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Leroux was a member of Seattle Reign FC in 2014, appearing in all 22 league matches and scoring five goals as part of a Shield-winning side. Previously, Leroux played with the Boston Breakers in the NWSL’s inaugural season, scoring a league best 11 goals.
As a dual national, the Surrey, British Columbia, started playing internationally at the youth level with Canada at the U-19 level before transferring to the United States. She appeared in 39 games with the U-20 USWNT, scoring 24 goals.
Leroux made her U.S. senior team debut in 2011, and has scored 35 international goals in 77 games with the USWNT — tying April Heinrichs for 14th on the U.S. career goal-scoring list. She’s appeared in every major tournament with the USWNT since 2012 except for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
A UCLA product, Leroux received First-Team NSCAA All-America, Soccer America’s MVP First Team and First-Team NSCAA All-Pacific Region honors. She was also a two-time semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy Player of the Year Award (2009, 2011).
What it Means for Orlando
Leroux’s acquisition will impact the Pride in a positive way. She’ll take the spot of the departed Jasmyne Spencer in the attack but brings a new dynamic to the front line. Where the diminutive Spencer and more finesse-oriented strikers like Morgan, Rachel Hill, and Chioma Ubogagu can get knocked off the ball in congested areas, Leroux can fight off defenders, maintain her balance and still get her shot away. While not as clinical in finishing as Morgan or Marta, Leroux can score goals in bunches when in top form. Her presence alone should help create space for Morgan and Marta in the dangerous attacking areas.
Physical defenses like those in Chicago, Portland, and North Carolina presented problems for which the Pride didn’t have a solution in 2017. Leroux will be part of that solution in 2018.
We’ll let Dom present this.