The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that Dani Weatherholt has been traded to Reign FC for the Tacoma-based side’s natural second-round pick in the 2021 NWSL College Draft. An original member of the inaugural Pride team, Weatherholt leaves the club as the leader in all-time appearances, the third most starts, and second most minutes played.
Weatherholt was initially acquired by the Pride during the 2016 NWSL College Draft. She was the first pick of the fourth round, 31st overall, out of Santa Clara University. In four years with the Pride, she made 74 appearances, 60 starts, and played 5,353 minutes. The 25-year-old midfielder scored three goals during that time.
“On behalf of everyone at the Orlando Pride, I want to thank Dani for her contributions to the club these last four seasons,” Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said in a club press release. “Dani has been an integral part of the Pride, both within the team and within the community, and we’ll miss having her in purple. We wish her the best of luck in this next chapter ahead with the Reign.”
Weatherholt is the second long-term Pride player who has been traded this month after forward Rachel Hill was sent to the Chicago Red Stars to obtain the third pick in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. Hill had been with the Pride since the 2017 season.
“I am beyond grateful to be joining Reign FC for the upcoming 2020 season,” Weatherholt said through her new club. “Reign FC is a team I have deep respect and admiration for, with world class players and people both on and off the field. I can’t wait to get into preseason and pour everything that I have into this club.”
Weatherholt’s departure leaves four remaining players from the Pride’s inaugural opening day roster — Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, Kristen Edmonds, and Toni Pressley.
What it Means for Orlando
Prior to the trade of Weatherholt, the club had 23 players on its roster, one more than the maximum on a senior roster. The trade allows the club to sign some of their newly drafted players to the supplemental roster, which allows four spots for players making the league minimum. The Pride draft seven players in this year’s draft, two in each of the first three rounds.
The Pride saw more contributions from rookie midfielder Marisa Viggiano as the season wore on and that may have figured into the decision to move Weatherholt, who struggled through her most difficult season in 2019. She scored no goals, registered no assists, and played her fewest games since her rookie season. Weatherholt struggled to get forward into the attack, attempting only four shots in 2019 and getting only on on target. Her season was such that The Mane Land rated her only a 4.5 on the season. Whether she simply had a a temporary dip in form last season or she was just a poor fit for Marc Skinner’s system remains to be seen.
In the end, the Pride parlayed a fourth-round pick in 2016 for a second-round selection in 2021 and got four mostly solid seasons out of the Santa Clara product. Weatherholt will be tough to replace in terms of being a fan favorite but her play wasn’t on such a level that she’s an irreplaceable member of the team. How Skinner and Ustruck do that — and who is drafted with that pick — will determine whether this trade ultimately is a good one for Orlando.