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2019 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Alanna Kennedy

How did the Pride’s versatile defender do in her third year in Orlando?

Chicago Red Stars v Orlando Pride Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

The 2019 season was Alanna Kennedy’s third for the Orlando Pride after she was acquired via trade from North Carolina in January of 2017 for Sam Witteman. Like many of the Pride starters, she left the team in the middle of the season to compete in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Prior to Kennedy’s departure, the Australian international primarily played center back but, with some of the team’s younger defenders receiving minutes in her absence, she returned to play in the midfield. Here’s a recap of how Kennedy performed this season for the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

After missing the first game of the season, Kennedy started the next four games at center back. Following her return from the World Cup, she began playing in the midfield, a switch she has made in previous seasons. Her first game back was on July 6 against the Washington Spirit in Orlando. She went on to play the next 10 games in the midfield before returning to the defense for her final appearance of the season.

In total, Kennedy took part in 15 games during the 2019 season, starting each one, and tallied a total of 1,349 minutes. She was suspended for the 2-1 loss in Washington on Aug. 24 because she was sent off in the 90th minute on Aug. 21 against the Chicago Red Stars.

Defensively, Kennedy won 56.3% of her tackles and 53.3% of her aerial duels. She blocked 12 shots, made 18 interceptions, and had 58 clearances. Going forward, Kennedy completed 416 of 552 passes for a 75.4% passing success rate. Even though she spent more time in the midfield than in the back, 41.1% of her passes were forward and only 10.1% went backwards. Though most of her passes were in the buildup rather than in the attacking third, she had an 83.1% passing accuracy in the Pride’s own half.

While Kennedy had nine key passes in the attack, she didn’t record any assists. She took 17 total shots with seven on target. Her lone goal of the season was the team’s first of the year. That occurred in the sixth minute on April 21 at Reign FC. The sixth-minute strike was enough to allow the Pride to gain their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw.

Best Game

Despite being primarily a midfielder this season, the biggest impact that Kennedy had on a game this season came as a defender. On April 21, the Pride traveled west to take on Reign FC. In the sixth minute of the game in Tacoma, Emily van Egmond sent a curling free kick into the box. A poor clearance provided an opportunity for Kennedy, who turned and put an overhead kick into the corner of the net for one of the Pride’s most impressive goals of the year.

While a 21st-minute strike by Bethany Balcer erased the Pride lead, it was enough to secure the team’s first point of the season. The splendid strike was one of only two the Pride would score before June 15.

Kennedy played all 90 minutes in the match, got her one shot attempt on target for the goal, passed at a 65% rate, and won a free kick.

2019 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Kennedy a final grade of 4 for the 2019 season. Part of that is because she missed a large part of the season due to competing in the Women’s World Cup. It didn’t help that she got sent off after returning, receiving a one-game suspension. Another reason for the grade was the ineffectiveness of the attack, which she was a part of as a midfielder, and she was part of Orlando’s leaky defense prior to the World Cup. This is the same rating we gave her in 2018 after she got a strong 7.5 in 2017. Much of the drop-off is part of the team’s overall lack of success the last two seasons.

2020 Outlook

Kennedy has shown in the past she has the ability to be one of the Pride’s bright spots and can be a key player moving forward. She can play at center back and central midfield at a high level, providing some flexibility in Marc Skinner’s lineup. At only 24 years of age, the best is yet to come for Kennedy. The Pride will lose her for part of the 2020 season if she takes part in the 2020 Summer Olympics for Australia. You can expect the Pride to get rid of some internationals to avoid the young squad they had for much of 2019, but Kennedy is unlikely to be one of them.

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