The Orlando Pride have bolstered their attacking ranks by signing Scottish international forward Claire Emslie. She will occupy one of two spare international roster slots pending receipt of her P1 Visa.
The 25-year-old joins Orlando from Manchester City, where she scored 12 goals in all competitions across two seasons to help the team win a domestic cup double in the 2018-2019 season. She previously had spells with Bristol City as well as Edinburgh-based Hibernian FC. The attacker won’t feel too out of place in Florida after playing college soccer for Florida Atlantic University from 2012 to 2016, registering 29 goals and 10 assists in 76 games for the Owls.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play pro soccer in the USA. My time at Florida Atlantic University fueled that dream and Orlando Pride was the club I always envisioned playing for,” Emslie said of her signing. “I left Florida three years ago as a college graduate determined to return one day as a professional soccer player and I can’t quite believe it has happened. I’m excited for the new challenge ahead and ready to work for it!”
Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner, who has first-hand experience of Emslie from when she scored against his Birmingham side during a League Cup tie in December 2017, had hinted that a player signing was close, confirming that the team is still actively looking to sign new players. It’s no secret that the Pride’s attack has not been firing for the 2019 season, scoring only twice in their opening seven games — both by center backs.
“Claire is a player I have wanted to work with for a long time now. She possesses many desirable talents that will only help improve the team. Her ability to effectively dribble, pass and shoot with both feet, means she will keep defenders guessing about her next move and will excite our fans,” Marc Skinner said. “More importantly, Claire possesses a personality that will epitomize the hardworking culture we are working daily to create at the Pride. We can’t wait for Claire to join the family.”
It’s the first real signing of proven professional quality under the new head coach/general manager tandem of Skinner and Erik Ustruck, with the team only managing eight free agent signings in the off-season who combined for 33 career professional minutes prior to signing for Orlando. Unfortunately, Emslie won’t be available for selection for a little longer yet as she will be in France with Scotland for their World Cup campaign, which kicks off against England on June 9. They will also face Japan and Argentina in Group D.
“Claire is a very dynamic forward that can provide the final ball that we’ve been looking for, with both feet. She loves to attack fullbacks for the full 90 minutes, she recovers well and she defends on the front foot,” Orlando Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said. “Claire has the ability to change games and she brings a team-first mentality to the group that will enhance the culture that we’re trying to build. We’re looking forward to having her in Orlando.”
Reports from England also suggest Skinner had interest in Emslie’s Manchester City teammate and Republic of Ireland international defender Megan Campbell although the FSU grad now looks likely to remain in Manchester. This after the NWSL denied approval for a loan move for a Chelsea FC defender earlier in the month.
Skinner was also interested in taking Megan Campbell to the USA but I do believe she has decided to sign a new contract at Manchester City.— Rich Laverty (@RichJLaverty) May 30, 2019