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2018 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Monica

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The Pride’s most tenured defender had a few ups, and a few more downs in her third year.

Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

Monica, whose 54 Pride appearances are tied for second-most alongside Dani Weatherholt (trailing only Kristen Edmonds’ 56), has been here since the beginning. Because of that, she has seen and experienced her fair share of the ups and downs over the years, and 2018 proved no different.

To that point, the ratings she received from me throughout the season ranged from a 3.5 to a 7.5. When she was on the field and in sync with the rest of the back line, they could stop the likes of Sam Kerr. When they weren’t, they could leak goals two or three at a time.

Due to international duty, she didn’t get her first start of the season until the fifth match, the first of three draws against the Seattle Reign on April 28.

Statistical Breakdown

Monica started 15 games in 2018 and appeared in two more as a substitute. One thing I found interesting was that when she was on the field, the Pride conceded 18 goals. In the seven games she either missed due to international duty or went unused, the Pride conceded 19 goals. A big part of that was her hitting the bench during the 3-5-2 experiment. There are other caveats to consider, of course, but interesting nonetheless.

In total, she committed 13 fouls and received two yellows. She also had a late-game handball in the box that allowed Houston to take the lead, and ultimately all the points in an important home match that started the Pride’s slide out of the playoff standings.

She had the best distribution on the team with an accuracy rate of 82.9% on 683 attempted passes. She also led the team in blocks with 17. After that, her numbers dip considerably compared to her fellow defenders. She only had 40 clearances compared to Shelina Zadorsky’s 100, and her tackle success rate was 12.5% lower at a poor 68.8%.

Best Game

This was a no-brainer for me. Monica’s best game came in the 2-0 victory in Chicago in a midweek game on May 2. With just three days in between games, Monica kept up with Sam Kerr for most of the match, and although there was a little bit of bending throughout the night, she never broke. Kerr got more and more desperate, firing a shot whenever she could, half of which were from outside the box. She was held to zero shots on goal, with her final attempt getting blocked by Monica in the 89th minute.

2018 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Monica a 4.5 for the 2018 campaign. The highs, like what is described just above, were solid performances. However, she consistently lacked the physicality to take full ownership of the box, and due to that, a lot of attackers were able to create or just take the space that was allowed to them and get a shot off. The Pride allowed a club-worst 37 goals on the season, and although she wasn’t on the field for a majority of them, she was still part of a poor all-around defensive effort.

2019 Outlook

As with some of the other players on the Pride, it’s hard to say what will happen when a new coach comes in and assesses the team. The things that are working in her favor are that she’s a veteran defender with plenty of international experience. She also acquired her green card this summer and no longer takes up a precious international slot. Also worth noting: Amanda Duffy has said there will be larger rosters next year.

Again, it depends on whether the Pride’s next coach is happy with this level of international players on the squad, or if they will try to move towards players who won’t be getting called up for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in determining if she’ll be here or not.

I, for one, would like to see her return. Of course, the team will look tremendously different at the start of the 2019 season, but for now looking at the Pride’s current crop of defenders, she’s a rare experienced talent that may be needed if the Pride acquire youth that needs time to develop. With that being said, I won’t be surprised if the new coach makes some moves, and Monica is part of that change.


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