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Orlando Pride Sign Canadian Goalkeeper Erin McLeod

Pride replace Haley Kopmeyer with another experienced goalkeeper.

Soccer: 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying - Costa Rica vs Canada Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride didn’t waste any time replacing backup goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer, who was waived by mutual consent on Feb. 4. The Pride announced today that the club has signed Canadian international goalkeeper Erin McLeod to a one-year deal with an option for an additional season.

“Erin’s international experience and proven ability to perform consistently at a high level provides us some much-needed depth at the goalkeeper position,” Orlando Pride General Manager Erik Ustruck said in a club press release. “She is a vocal and natural leader who we know will continue to build upon the culture we have set out to achieve here in Orlando. We are very excited to welcome her to the Pride.”

McLeod, 36, has played for multiple clubs in Europe since 2016. She most recently played with Swedish side Växjö DFF in 2019, making two appearances. Before that, she had stintes with German clubs SC Sand and FF USV Jena. She played with FC Rosengård of Sweden’s Damallsvenskan in 2016-2017, where she was teammates with fellow Pride players Marta and Ali Riley and helped lead Rosengård to two Svenska Cupen and a Svenska Supercupen titles.

Before heading to Europe, McLeod played for the Houston Dash in that club’s first two seasons of existence, making 31 appearances. She served as the Dash’s captain in the team’s inaugural season of 2014. She started her NWSL career in 2013 with the Chicago Red Stars before being traded to Houston. The St. Albert, Alberta native compiled 47 appearances (46 starts) in the NWSL, posting eight shutouts and 207 saves — the most in the league over that span.

Earlier in her career, she played for two seasons with the Washington Freedom of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) and won two W-League Championships with the Vancouver Whitecaps Women.

Although not part of Canada’s recent Olympic qualifying squad, McLeod featured in Canada’s 2007, 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup teams and 2008 and 2012 Olympic squads. In 2012, McLeod helped lead the Canadians to the country’s first-ever medal in women’s football, posting a shutout in a 1-0 victory over France to win bronze. She made her debut with Canada in March 2002 and has gone on to total 118 total caps and 45 clean sheets.

McLeod played her collegiate soccer in the U.S., with SMU (2001-2002) and Penn State (2004-2005). While with the Nittany Lions, she earned First Team NSCAA All-American honors and was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

What it Means for Orlando

It’s easy to look at the McLeod and Riley signings and jump to the conclusion that the Pride are trying to get the FC Rosengård band back together for Marta. Those two signings seem at odds with the league trend of adding youth and speed. But they’re also both leadership types and can potentially help change the culture of the squad for the better.

Provided Canada is happy to continue moving forward with Stephanie Labbe, Kailen Sheridan, and Sabrina D’Angelo, McLeod provides the Pride with an experienced backup goalkeeper to Ashlyn Harris that won’t be gone during international breaks. However, that would also mean she won’t be allocated by her federation and she will require an international slot. If Lainey Burdett sticks around, she’ll continue to be the third goalkeeper and a backup for when Harris is with the USWNT.

Orlando needed a goalkeeper and McLeod is certainly one of those. She’s on the back end of her career, but that’s perfectly fine for a backup. Without knowing the financials, it’s difficult to judge this signing. If she can perform as well as, or better than, Kopmeyer, and at a similar price point, it’ll be a good move for the club.