The Orlando Pride‘s preseason finally got underway on March 4, the first day the league allowed teams to begin their preparations for the 2019 season, with the team announcing the preseason roster. With the National Women’s Soccer League increasing maximum roster sizes to 22 during the World Cup year and a further four spaces available to make up the supplemental roster, new boss Marc Skinner will have to make the most of the players available to him this year.
To do so, he will need to recruit well within the acquisition and roster compliance constraints of the league, as the Pride only have one international spot available after the Christine Nairn trade. Seven international players have away from camp between the SheBelieves Cup and Cup of Nations, while Camila also was late to arrive, despite not being called up to the Brazil squad. The remaining Pride players were instead joined by drafted rookies Erin Greening and Marisa Viggiano, as well as six trialists. Here’s a look at the six non-roster invitees fighting for the available senior and supplemental roster spots:
Lainey Burdett, Goalkeeper
Burdett is an undrafted rookie goalkeeper who is the Arizona Wildcats’ all-time shutouts leader and a two-time All-Pac-12 member. Burdett gave an interview earlier in the year where she said was hoping to become the first Wildcat in history to be drafted to the NWSL in 2019 but showed her awareness and maturity as well.
“I’m not necessarily going into it being like I need to be one of the 36 picks...because I know there are people that get called to a trial or preseason training camp. So I feel really good about it and I’m keeping positive energy.”
In the end, Kaylan Marckese was the only goalkeeper selected but Nevada-native Burdett now has a chance to train with Orlando alongside Haley Kopmeyer and Ashlyn Harris.
Alika Keene, Defender
Already a youth international with Jamaica when she was recruited by Harvard in 2012, the defender made 65 appearances across her four years as part of the Crimson back line before graduating in 2016, but doesn’t appear to have signed a professional deal since. A local player from Mount Dora, she was profiled in 2017 as part of Lifetime’s soccer coverage for her work on female empowerment and coaching youth soccer in Peru.
Kim Reynolds, Defender
An Orlando native and former UCF All-American, Kim Reynolds was with the Orlando Pride for preseason training in 2016 after winning a place in open tryouts. She returned for camp in 2017 but never made an appearance. The defender originally went professional with Sky Blue FC in 2011 and has also had spells with various Women’s Premier Soccer League and USL W-League teams, most recently spending the 2018 season with United Women’s Soccer outfit Orlando Kicks based out of Montverde Academy.
Joanna Boyles, Midfielder
With 14 goals and 17 assists, attacking midfielder Jo Boyles was a key piece for the University of North Carolina, as she replaced the graduating Crystal Dunn in her sophomore year and bounced back from two ACL tears to help win the conference championship as a senior in 2017. She was a fourth-round draft pick by the Boston Breakers in 2018 before the team unexpectedly folded a week later. The 23-year-old eventually landed with the Chicago Red Stars via the dispersal draft but could only earn minutes in the WPSL, captaining the reserve team last season, but she did make the bench once in the NWSL.
Bridget Callahan, Midfielder
Another local UCF grad who the Pride have had in camp previously, the 22-year-old Callahan impressed enough while on trial last season to be signed as a National Team Replacement Player to temporarily help cover for Australian internationals Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond, making one substitute appearance. The midfielder recorded nine goals and two assists in 75 appearances with UCF.
Abby Elinsky, Midfielder
Just like Callahan, defensive midfielder Elinski signed a temporary National Team Replacement Player deal last season with the Pride and eventually made two substitute appearances in purple, totaling 32 minutes. Originally drafted by the Houston Dash last year, two spots ahead of her Tar Heel teammate Boyles, the 23-year-old has more recently been plying her trade abroad in the French second division with ASPTT Albi.
Elsewhere in the league, there are three former Pride players on trial with other teams. 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft pick forward Jamia Fields returns from spells with Norwegian sides Arna-Bjørnar and Avaldsnes IL to take part in the Dash’s preseason camp. Midfielder Nickolette Driesse, a fourth-round pick for Orlando in 2017, is training with the North Carolina Courage after a season in Croatia with ZNK Split. Defender McKenzie Berryhill, who was originally drafted by the Portland Thorns but claimed off waivers by the Pride in 2017 before having her season ended by injury, returns to the NWSL for a tryout with Washington Spirit after spending a year with Norwegian side Klepp IL.
Orlando will take on the North Carolina Courage as part of the team’s inaugural Friendship Cup on March 23 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The Pride begin their NWSL campaign at home against the Portland Thorns on April 14.