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Impact of the Newest Orlando Pride Additions

With the Pride adding multiple players this week, what does it mean for this strong squad?

SOCCER: OCT 09 NWSL Championship - Washington Spirit v WNY Flash Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Orlando Pride continued their roster bolstering campaign earlier this week by completing two trades with Seattle Reign.

Earlier this window, the Pride had made a few moves to solidify themselves coming into the year, including adding Shelina Zadorsky from the Washington Spirit in exchange for Aubrey Bledsoe and the club’s 2019 first-round draft pick.

On Monday the Pride added more pieces by participating in two separate trades with the Seattle Reign. The first trade sent Steph Catley to the Reign in exchange for Carson Pickett and Christine Nairn. In the second trade, Jasmyne Spencer was sent to Seattle for Haley Kopmeyer and Seattle’s natural third-round pick in the 2019 NWSL draft. Rather than select a player in the Boston Breakers dispersal draft on Tuesday, the club sent two dispersal draft selections to Seattle for the Reign’s first-round draft pick in 2019 — a pick that was swapped to Utah yesterday to acquire Sydney Leroux.

What does the addition of Zadorsky, Pickett, Nairn, Kopmeyer, and Leroux mean for this Pride team?

Before reviewing the players that were brought in, there needs to be a discussion as to what the Pride are losing. There have been a few concerns with the pieces Orlando has dealt away. Bledsoe was a solid backup goalkeeper, putting up stats that nearly matched what Ashlyn Harris was able to do last season. Catley played two good seasons with the Pride, locking down the left back position, even offering some play going forward (not to mention she scored the first goal in Pride history). Spencer was an electric forward who provided a spark for the forward line, scoring seven goals and adding four assists in her two-year tenure with the Pride.

Though if I’m a Pride fan, there is no reason to fret. The additions the Pride have made in this off-season will continue to keep the Pride competitive and even fill some holes the team had going into the off-season.

Defense and depth are the two things the Pride has to fix this off-season, with defense being one of the first things the team addressed. Nadia Gomes was selected from BYU and, on paper, it would seem that she is a forward through and through, maybe even a left winger. However, I could argue that Gomes would shift beautifully into the left-back role, a spot now left open by Catley’s departure. Gomes provides a deadly left foot and pace that would not only benefit the squad on the attack but also posses the closing speed that is required for the position.

After the draft pick, the trading for Shelina Zadorsky hammers home the idea that defense is on the forefront of Tom Sermanni’s mind. Zadorsky has been a dominant center back in the women’s game and for the Canadian National Team for a few years now. Zadorsky played right central defense with the Spirit. She appeared in 21 matches last season, finishing second among all Washington players in minutes played (1,793).

The London, Ontario native didn’t score a goal but recorded one assist on the year, attempting just six shots (two on goal). She finished fourth on the club in total touches (1,078) and she led all Spirit players in passing accuracy (80%) and clearances (100). Zadorsky conceded nine fouls on the season, won four, and was shown two yellow cards. What this should scream is a solid pairing for the Pride is on the horizon. Whether it be Kreiger or Monica as her partner, Zadorsky should thrive in her new defensive role.

Moving on to the goalkeeper position, Kopmeyer is a great pickup for the Pride, especially after losing Bledsoe to Washington. She has played for the Seattle Reign since 2013 but had her breakout season last year, amassing 1800 minutes, gaining two clean sheets, and averaging about four saves per game. A role change for Kopmeyer will be required since she will most likely be tasked to back up Harris. There is an ability for Kopmeyer to fight Harris for the starting spot but this could be an outside shot for her. Replacing Bledsoe was a key priority to address and the Pride handled that by trading away a solid backup who deserved a shot at competing for a starting role. Here’s a look at what Kopmeyer can do:

Pickett adds to the position that is left vacant with Catley’s departure. Though I discussed the possibility of Gomes moving to left back, the Pride went out and grabbed a starting NWSL left back. Pickett has played over 2700 minutes in her two seasons, capturing about 1900 minutes last year alone. She was a part of two shutout performances for the Reign and delivered closeout performances. With this addition, the Pride again add another dynamic piece on their defensive side of the ball. It not only fills a hole but also allows Pickett to return to her home state.

Last but not least (and I mean in that in every sense of the phrase) the Pride added Nairn, a very hardworking box-to-box midfielder. Nairn can play either side of the formation with looks at left midfield and right midfield in a 4-3-3. This works out perfectly for the Pride with many of their games being played in the 4-3-3. Nairn has bounced around a few teams over her NWSL career, starting with Seattle Reign FC in 2013, then going to the Washington Spirit for a few years, and then back to Seattle last year. Though her stats don’t jump off the page, Nairn has played quality minutes racking up over 1600 minutes the last four seasons. Nairn has scored 19 goals in her last four seasons as well as adding 13 assists. Though her numbers aren’t flashy, Nairn is a great addition, whether she ends up in the starting 11 or as a quality bench piece that can create a spark. This video displays some of her ability.

The Leroux move has been a long time coming for many fans with Dom Dwyer being asked when his wife will join the Pride after his mid-season trade last year. Leroux adds not only her goal-scoring prowess and national team experience but she also adds a physicality that this team lacked last season. Tom Sermanni has said since the end of last year that the Pride need to get more physical this season and Sydney is a great step forward. Regardless of where she plays on the front line, Leroux will be very effective for the squad, whether she’s putting in the goals herself or creating space for Alex Morgan, Rachel Hill, or Marta.

So what do all these moves mean for the Pride?

It’s simple, the Pride are looking to build up a group that can carry them farther in the playoffs. This team is beginning to amass solid depth that is required in the league as well as coverage when players are on national duty. If players return to camp in form and the new additions take a step forward, this Pride team should remain competitive going into next season. I believe that the Pride still have a move or two up their sleeve but if this is the roster that starts in April I would feel very comfortable with the current squad.

Later on this off-season, when the squad is more final, we’ll take a look as to how the Pride will line up this coming season.