There are now 26 players listed on Orlando Pride’s official preseason roster, one more than the 25-player squad list released on the opening day of preseason. Defender Kim Reynolds has left camp while two non-roster invitees, midfielder Leah Mohammadi and forward Caitlin Farrell, have linked up with the squad that has now also seen the return of seven absentees: Ashlyn Harris, Alanna Kennedy, Shelina Zadorsky, Emily van Egmond, Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu, and Marta.
The seven returnees were all away on international duty when new boss Marc Skinner began training camp on March 4 but have now returned, while Camila is the sole player listed as not yet reported. The Brazil international remains in her homeland as she continues to deal with her pending green card that would hand the Pride an additional international roster slot for the upcoming season.
It is perhaps odd that a defender was cut given the club’s official roster lists six defenders compared to nine midfielders and eight forwards following the latest moves. However, Reynolds has twice been in camp with the Pride before and never made an appearance for the team, so it less of a surprise that Reynolds didn’t make the cut for a third time. The danger is, however, that with Kennedy and Zadorsky away for this summer’s World Cup and the preceding warm-up fixtures, the Pride will see their defensive corps reduced to four, although there are several players listed in other positions that have previously filled in on defense before — most recently Kristen Edmonds and Camila at right fullback.
Skinner spoke candidly about potential acquisitions at Orlando Pride Media Day, hinting by the timescale that at least one will come by way of a European league that currently remains in season, although he won’t be rushed into any signings and will give those already in camp a chance to prove themselves. Having already brought over Assistant Coach Carl Green from former club Birmingham City, there’s a sense that the Englishman will eventually bring in a player he is familiar with from the Blues, who end their domestic season in early May. The team is currently fourth behind the three juggernauts of Arsenal, Manchester City, and Chelsea in the FA WSL.
A deal of that kind is made even more likely by the trade of Christine Nairn for an international slot earlier in the off-season, which gives Skinner and new Pride GM Erik Ustruck a level of freedom with their player acquisition, although it does not necessarily mean the player will be unavailable during the World Cup. Only three from the current Birmingham roster appear to be in contention for places: Chloe Arthur with Scotland, and Lucy Staniforth and Ellen White for England. Orlando also has a club partnership deal with German side Wolfsburg, whose season, like Birmingham, also ends in early May.
Following on from last week’s profiles of all the invitees currently training with the Pride ahead of the 2019 season, here’s a look at the two newest arrivals:
Leah Mohammadi, Midfielder
An attacking midfielder, the undrafted rookie had a breakout senior year at Harvard last year, registering a career-high 10 goal involvements (seven goals and three assists) in her 15 appearances. She also shouldered set piece responsibilities for the Crimson in 2018, netting a perfect three-for-three record from the penalty spot, stepping up for free kicks and even scored an olímpico directly from a corner.
Caitlin Farrell, Forward
It came as a surprise to many analysts when the MAC Hermann Trophy finalist and Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year Caitlin Farrell went undrafted in 2019. The speedy forward had created a lot of buzz in her senior year when she became a prolific goal scorer for Georgetown University, netting a single season team-record 18 goals as she started in all 25 of the Hoyas’ games for the season. Adept at playing out wide and with a cool head in front of goal, Farrell earned a starting role in her sophomore year and finished with 30 goals and 19 assists in 92 appearances.
Orlando Pride updated Preseason Roster:
Goakeepers (3): Lainey Burdett (NRI), Ashlyn Harris, Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders (6): Alika Keene (NRI), Alanna Kennedy, Ali Krieger, Carson Pickett, Toni Pressley, Shelina Zadorsky.
Midfielders (9): Joanna Boyles (NRI), Bridget Callahan (NRI), Kristen Edmonds, Abby Elinsky (NRI), Erin Greening (CDP), Leah Mohammadi (NRI), Emily van Egmond, Marisa Viggiano (CDP), Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards (8): Danica Evans, Caitlin Farrell (NRI), Rachel Hill, Sydney Leroux, Camila (NYR), Alex Morgan, Chioma Ubogagu, Marta.
CDP - 2019 NWSL College Draft pick.
NRI - Non-Roster Invitee.
NYR - Not Yet Reported to Camp.
This weekend will see the Orlando Pride’s first game of the preseason as they take on reigning NWSL Champions the North Carolina Courage as part of the team’s inaugural Friendship Cup on March 23 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC. The game is part of a doubleheader with their men’s affiliate, North Carolina FC, hosting Liga MX side Necaxa straight after. No other Pride preseason fixtures have been announced by the club so far.
The team’s 2019 NWSL campaign begins at home against the Portland Thorns on April 14.