Orlando Pride forward Sydney Leroux was originally acquired back in February of 2018 from Utah Royals FC in exchange for a first-round 2019 NWSL College Draft selection and this was to be her second season with the club. But instead, she and husband Dom Dwyer welcomed their second child into the world — a unique feature (not a bug) of women’s sports. It would be understandable for fans to have written off Leroux’s entire 2019 season, as she was out on maternity leave for the bulk of the 2019 campaign and gave birth to daughter Roux late in June.
Leroux worked hard on her recovery and returned to Orlando Pride training sessions as early as July — just a few weeks after giving birth. At that point, anyone who has ever followed the former USWNT forward should have bet on her assertions that she’d be back in the lineup by the end of the season, which ultimately proved to be true.
But being able to play a few minutes at game speed isn’t the same as being “back,” and Leroux’s appearances served only to get her more ready to go in 2020, as they came late in matches at the tail end of a disappointing Orlando Pride season.
Let’s take a look at her season’s snapshot.
Leroux appeared in just three matches in 2019 — all off the bench — and got only 28 total minutes of playing time. In that time, she did not score a goal, register an assist, or even attempt a shot. She completed four of her 10 (40%) total passes. Aside from that, she registered very little on the stat sheet.
She made her season debut on Sept. 29 at Sky Blue in a 1-1 draw, playing just four minutes. She created one scoring chance on her two pass attempts, completing one of them. In a 3-0 home loss against the Washington Spirit on Oct. 5, Leroux played 15 minutes, did not register a shot, had only six touches, and completed two of her six passes. She got a nine-minute run-out in the season finale on Oct. 12 at home against Reign FC in a 2-2 draw. She had three touches and completed one of her two passes, creating one scoring chance.
With only three games to choose from and not even a shot attempt, let’s go with the season finale, as Leroux completed half her (admittedly only two) passes and created a scoring chance. It is unsurprising that she tended to get a little better with each game appearance, as it takes time for a body to recover from creating, carrying, and delivering another human into the world over the course of three quarters of a calendar year. A draw against a playoff team was a good result for the 2019 Pride, and in fact it was one of the team’s better performances of the season from a passing and movement standpoint.
2019 Final Grade
Obviously Leroux didn’t meet the minimum threshold for receiving a grade for the 2019 season, so she gets an incomplete. But the determination and desire she showed to get back on the field with her teammates only weeks after delivering a child speaks volumes about her commitment.
Leroux seems likely to return in 2020 provided the club comes to terms with the striker, however, it would also not be surprising to see the team shedding older players for younger in the coming overhaul. If Leroux isn’t back next year, it is likely a club decision rather than the player’s. However, like all else in what is sure to be a turbulent off-season for the Pride, it’s really anyone’s guess what might happen and Leroux’s return could hinge on what other players Marc Skinner and Erik Ustruck can bring in.