The Orlando Pride announced today that they have traded midfielder Christine Nairn to the Houston Dash in exchange for an international roster slot for the 2019 NWSL season and the Dash’s natural third- and fourth round-picks in the 2020 NWSL College Draft.
“On behalf of the entire Orlando Pride organization, I would like to thank Christine for her dedication and contributions to the Pride last year,” Orlando Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said in a club press release. “We wish her the best of luck in Houston.”
Acquired at the start of last season, along with Carson Pickett, in exchange for left back Steph Catley, the 28-year-old Nairn scored once for the Pride in her 20 appearances for the club, a memorable volley against Portland — the NWSL’s Goal of the Week for Week 7.
Nairn played the 12th-most minutes on the Pride in 2018, with 1,115 in 20 appearances (13 starts). The longest drought was from July 11 to Aug. 19 in which she only got 66 minutes on the field in six games. Orlando went 1-3-2 during that span. In addition to her lone goal, Nairn provided four assists — tying Marta for the club lead in that category — and she completed 74.2% of her passes. Of those, 26 were key passes, the second-highest total on the team. Defensively, she had 24 interceptions and only conceded three fouls, getting only a single yellow card on the season.
The former United States international had just returned from a successful spell in Australia with Melbourne Victory, lifting the W-League Premiership alongside Pride teammate Dani Weatherholt as well as winning the Player’s Player of the Year and the Victory Medal at the team’s own end-of-season awards.
The trade brings the total number of departures this off-season to three behind Brazilians Poliana and Mônica, with no players yet brought in. The midfield is looking particularly barren, with only three players officially listed at the position: Emily van Egmond, Kristen Edmonds, and Dani Weatherholt although Orlando’s two draft selections in January, Erin Greening and Marisa Viggiano, also play the position, while Brazilian international Marta can slot in there as well.
Fans will be hoping that some new arrivals will be announced sooner rather than later with preseason camp scheduled to officially begin next Monday and international call-ups throwing additional complications into new Head Coach Marc Skinner’s preparations as he looks to put his own stamp on the team. The move for an international roster spot in particular, which are at a premium in NWSL with each team restricted to four, appears to be a signal of intent by the Englishman to import international talent and, as many will already be speculating, this could mean bringing in a player from his former team, Birmingham City. The Midlands team currently sits fourth in the table and is seen as the “best of the rest” outside of the top three powerhouses of the FA WSL.
Orlando City signed an international partnership deal with Wolfsburg, which also operates a Frauen-Bundesliga winning women’s team, back in November and it remains to be seen if the club may also be considering signing a player from Germany.
Nairn’s spell in Orlando was an uneven one. After a strong start to the 2018 season, she finished a bit inconsistently and struggled to get onto the pitch at times down the final stretch of the season. The Mane Land staff gave Nairn a composite grade of 5.5 for the season in her final player grade for 2018.