Carson Pickett was acquired by the Orlando Pride as a part of the trade that sent Steph Catley and Jasmyne Spencer to the Seattle Reign, and brought back Christine Nairn and Haley Kopmeyer. Pickett played for Florida State University and anchored the Seminoles’ defense during their 2014 National Championship, when the defense didn’t give up a single goal in the tournament. She was selected as the fourth overall pick by the Seattle Reign, and expectations were high for the fullback when she arrived in Orlando.
Like many on the team, she hasn’t quite lived up to those expectations this season. Her grades through the season ranged from a low of 4 to a high of 7, with an average of 5.78.
Pickett made 19 appearances in 2018, 16 of them starts, and played a total of 1,381 minutes. In games she started she was subbed off five times. Pickett was fairly average, statistically speaking, registering no goals or assists. She had 31 clearances and eight blocks, though she did tie Ali Krieger with 46 interceptions. She had a 72.7% tackle success, 43.5% duel success rate, and a 39.5% aerial duel success rate. Pickett had a pass rate of 71.1% on 650 total passes, and a 33.3% long pass rate. On offense she took five shots with one on target. Pickett committed 15 fouls while drawing only six fouls. She only received two yellow cards, and no red cards.
Pickett’s best game was a 0-0 draw against her former team, the Seattle Reign on June 3, 2018. I actually wrote the five takeaways from that match, and Pickett was one of those takeaways. To quote myself:
Carson Pickett was Tom Sermanni’s go-to choice for set pieces. Her delivery was consistently excellent all game, whether during the run of play or from a free kick. Some of Orlando’s best chances came from Pickett’s service. As usual, she played a part in the attack, roaming up the entirety of the pitch. Generally, her defense was good on the night, making some key plays, though she did get beat on one of Seattle’s earlier chances. It’s only a shame Orlando couldn’t capitalize on her contributions — including a free kick that Kennedy headed off the woodwork before Leroux missed wide from just a few feet away.
The Pride might not have won the match, but it was in spite of Pickett’s excellent performance.
2018 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Pickett a 5.5 for the 2018 season, which is coincidentally very close to her average grade throughout the season. Pickett had her share of defensive breakdowns, like every player on the defense. Staff consensus was that though she started slowly she improved over the course of the season, and was the team’s best fullback (Krieger played a lot of center back and some right defender in a three-player back line). Granted, on a team that gave up 37 goals, it’s not a very high bar. Pickett might not be the largest defender in the league, but she plays with plenty of physicality and determination.
After the end of the season collapse by the Pride, and the subsequent firing of Tom Sermanni, I would say there are very few people in the organization that are truly assured of being back next season. One factor in her favor is that she is not one of the Americans that is typically being called up for international duty by Jill Ellis. This is going to be important for the 2019 NWSL season as it will be a World Cup year. There will be a new coach next season, and until then we have no idea for certain which players will be here. That being said, I do expect Pickett to return in 2019 because of her work ethic and potential.