The Orlando Pride selected Danica Evans with the 22nd overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. This was her third NWSL season and her best opportunity to earn meaningful minutes on the pitch with the Pride missing a lot of regulars through much of the season and the backups being ineffective at scoring goals.
However, Evans didn’t take advantage of the opportunity and despite getting into nearly half the team’s games in 2019, she still played few minutes and couldn’t unseat forwards who weren’t scoring, getting passed over for minutes by Marc Skinner, who favored Abby Elinsky — a traditional defensive midfielder — instead. Skinner even called out Evans early in the season for needing to work harder.
Let’s take a look at Evans’ third NWSL campaign.
Evans played in nine matches (three starts) in 2019 — her most appearances since 11 in her rookie season of 2017. However, her 322 minutes represented a new career high for a season. She scored one goal and added her first career professional assist, firing 11 shots with four on target. Her shot total was a career high and her shots on goal mark equaled a career high. Her 71.3% passing accuracy was the worst of her three seasons in Orlando.
She attempted no crosses on the season, won just 40% of her duels, had a 50% tackle rate, committed eight fouls while winning 13, and was offside once. She did not see a yellow or red card on the season.
I’m going to go with her 20-minute substitute appearance on June 15 when Evans scored the game-tying goal in a 2-2 draw on the road against the Houston Dash. Evans was active on the offensive end, firing two shots and getting both on frame to get half her season total in the latter category in just 20 minutes. She did not complete her only pass attempt in the match but she did draw a free kick. Of course, the most important statistic in any game is the scoreboard and Evans’ goal was vital to rescue a point for the Pride with a strike in the 71st minute for her first NWSL goal since her second-ever professional game in April of 2017.
Evans made a nice run to get onto a Jo Boyles cross and, despite taking a sloppy first touch, she was able to recover and slot it home to make it a 2-2 game.
2019 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Evans a composite rating of 4 on the season. While she ordinarily would not earn a grade without playing 360 minutes (the equivalent of four matches), her appearance in more than a third of the season’s games — and nearly half — forced us to make an exception despite her lack of sufficient minutes. After receiving a 5.5 in her rookie season and an incomplete last year, 2019 can only be seen as disappointing for a player who stood to gain more than anyone on the Pride except maybe Rachel Hill from the absences of Alex Morgan and Marta.
Skinner’s assertions that she needed to work harder earlier in the year to see the field more often were also disappointing. After three seasons in the league, one starts to wonder if the former University of Colorado forward can ever put it all together and become a regular on the pitch.
The Pride are in a similar situation in 2020, barring a major overhaul, as much of the current roster will be away at the Olympics for a large section of the season. However, I believe the club will pivot away from having so many internationals and jettison a few. What that looks like remains to be seen. However, it’s doubtful to me that Evans has done enough to force Skinner into keeping her around for a fourth season in purple and I think the club will look to improve the forward position in the off-season.