The Orlando Pride bolstered the fullback position today with the acquisition of Brazilian international Poliana Barbosa Medeiros from the Houston Dash in exchange for the Pride’s second-round selection in the 2019 NWSL College Draft. The Pride then signed the 26-year-old to a contract for the 2018 season. Per team and league policies, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
“Poliana is a player that we have admired since she joined the league. We believe she has been one of Houston’s best, most consistent players during that time,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “What really appeals to us is that, though she plays mostly in a fullback role, we think she’s the kind of player who can play anywhere. She’s intelligent, her ability to read the game is phenomenal. As well as outstanding defensive qualities, she also has the skill to get forward and score goals. She has all the characteristics we look for at our club. I think she is an ideal fit for the Pride.”
Sermanni’s side now boasts four players from the No. 8 world-ranked Brazilian squad, as Poliana joins international teammates Marta, Monica and Camila in Orlando.
Over the last two seasons playing primarily fullback with the Dash, Poliana scored five goals and added two assists in 37 appearances. She played 15 matches with Houston in 2016, but missed part of the season due to Olympic duty, and appeared in 22 of the club’s 24 matches in 2017. Four of her goals came during the 2017 season. She has 42 shot attempts over the past two NWSL seasons, getting 22 of those on target. In that time, she has committed only 17 fouls and earned one yellow card.
Prior to her time in Houston, Poliana played for Icelandic club Starjnan, where she scored three goals in five league appearances. In UEFA Women’s Champions League play, Poliana led Starjnan to the knockout round with five goals in five matches. From 2010-2014, Poliana played for Brazilian side São José, winning the Copa Libertadores Femenina three times (2011, 2013, and 2014). She scored a brace, including the game-winning goal, in the 2014 championship match, as São José won, 5-1. She started her professional career with Santos in 2009 at age 18.
She has 34 international caps to her name, scoring two goals for Brazil. Poliana appeared in two matches during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, helping her team reach the Round of 16. In 2016, Poliana appeared in all six marches as Brazil finished fourth in the Rio Olympics.
What it Means for Orlando
Poliana’s presence will mitigate the wait for Camila to return from her knee injury. Like Camila, Poliana is versatile (hey, there’s that word again!) enough to play multiple positions and she has tremendous creativity and skill, with the desire to get forward into the attack. She can solidify the right back position, which is something the club needed last season with Ali Krieger playing center back. I still have the gut feeling that Krieger will be in central defense in 2018 despite the acquisition of Shelina Zadorsky, with Monica providing depth and playing some midfield. I don’t know, I just think Sermanni trusts Krieger more than Monica back there but all of that will sort itself out in camp.
At any rate, before Camila’s return, Poliana can provide some of the same things the recovering Brazilian brought to the team last year. After Camila’s return, Poliana’s presence will allow Camila to play a more advanced role and relieve her from having to play right back. If I were to predict a first-choice starting XI right now, without knowing if Alanna Kennedy or Chioma Ubogagu will sign their contract offers, I’d suggest a back line of Carson Pickett, Zadorsky, Krieger, and Poliana in front of Ashlyn Harris. The midfield could be Dani Weatherholt, Marta, and Christine Nairn behind a front line of Camila, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux. Many like to pencil in Marta on the front line but I like her as the distributor playing underneath Morgan. Rachel Hill could move into the super sub role formerly occupied by Jasmyne Spencer last year to provide an offensive spark off the bench.
But I’m probably forgetting something, as my brain is fighting off the ravages of the flu. At any rate, this move provides even more options for Sermanni and the Pride.