The Orlando Pride have re-signed all of their remaining unsigned players with today’s announcement that midfielder Emily van Egmond and defenders Carson Pickett and Kristen Edmonds have inked new one-year deals ahead of the 2020 NWSL season. This news, coupled with Ali Krieger returning to USSF allocated player status, means that the team has dealt with all unfinished contract business heading into the club’s fifth season.
“We’re very excited that Emily, Carson and Kristen have signed for the new season,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said in a club press release. “Coming off a strong season in Australia, we are really pleased to have Emily back in Orlando and look forward to continuing her great form and showing all of her qualities in a Pride jersey. It’s important that we continue to have players with technical qualities to compete at a really high level, and Carson fits that mold. Kristen has the ability to excel in 1v1 areas and this allows her to be a real threat. We’re looking forward to Kristen producing her best performances in the coming season.”
Van Egmond, 26, was limited to just eight matches (seven starts) for the Pride in 2019 due mainly to international duty at the World Cup. She did not score a goal and produced one assist. In her two seasons with Orlando, van Egmond has played in 25 games and registered two assists. She is currently in outstanding form for Australia and on loan with her W-League side, Melbourne City FC, where she has scored a team-high six goals and helped lead the club to the 2019-20 Premiership as the best team in the regular season. She has five goals and five assists in four matches with her national team in 2020.
Pickett, 26, made 20 appearances (19 starts) in 2019 with the Pride, recording one assist. She joined the Pride ahead of the 2018 season after being acquired in a trade from the Seattle Reign. Edmonds, 32, made 13 appearances for the Pride last season and made her 100th NWSL appearance on Sept. 29 at Sky Blue FC. An original member of the Pride’s inaugural team, Edmonds will enter her fifth season with the club in 2020. She has scored nine goals with the Pride, adding two assists, in 70 appearances.
What It Means for Orlando
The form van Egmond has been in for both her W-League club and her country is encouraging. If she can maintain this newfound confidence and carry it into the NWSL season, it would provide a huge boost to the Pride. Pickett and Edmonds both seem to be versatile depth players at this point. With Ali Riley and Emily Sonnett coming to Orlando, it seems likely that the club doesn’t plan to start Pickett or Erin Greening much at fullback in 2020, and Edmonds was herself a backup last year. So the re-signing of Pickett and Edmonds seems like an effort to provide depth as well as international break coverage.
The departures this off-season of Danica Evans, Rachel Hill, Dani Weatherholt, Haley Kopmeyer, and Joanna Boyles, coupled with the signings of Emily Sonnett, Riley, Erin McLeod, and three of the team’s seven draft selections in the past couple of weeks, the Pride have 27 players under contract. The maximum roster size ahead of the 2019 season was 22 players and each team can have up to four supplemental players. So, if my math is correct (and I’ll admit it isn’t my strongest subject), the club can become roster compliant but one more player will need to move on and that’s if the club doesn’t sign another draft choice.
That said, this team is international heavy, which will be a problem in an Olympic year. If no further personnel movement is made, the Pride will be without nine players at minimum and perhaps as many as 11. Yes, Orlando can field an entire starting XI out of just internationals and the Pride have two former internationals on the roster as well in McLeod and Sydney Leroux.
Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Emily Sonnett, and Alex Morgan — provided she recovers in time from giving birth — will all be with the U.S. Women’s National Team at the Olympics. Shelina Zadorsky will be with Canada. Van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy will be with Australia. Ali Riley will be with New Zealand. And, of course, Marta will be with Brazil. Additionally, Camila could be selected by Brazil if she recovers from her knee injury in time, but if she doesn’t, she still won’t be available for Pride duty either. And Claire Emslie could potentially be selected for a Great Britain side for the Olympics as well.
Here’s the roster that would be left behind during the Olympics if all 11 internationals go to Japan for a month:
- Lainey Burdett
- Erin McLeod
- Kristen Edmonds
- Erin Greening
- Julie King
- Courtney Petersen
- Carson Pickett
- Konya Plummer
- Toni Pressley
- Morgan Reid
- Bridget Callahan
- Abby Elinsky
- Marisa Viggiano
- Taylor Kornieck
- Caitlin Farrell
- Sydney Leroux
Of course, some of those players are adept at playing multiple positions, but that’s still a very thin NWSL roster, even if a few National Team Replacement Players are brought in. Having Emslie available would help, as would Camila if she can recover from her injury and if Brazil opts not to select her for Olympic duty.
At any rate, this looks like another messy summer for the Pride. The Olympic soccer tournament is currently scheduled to take place from July 22 to Aug. 7, but the internationals will need to report to their national team camps at least two or three weeks ahead of that and we’ve seen the U.S. Soccer Federation call in its players up to a month in advance of large tournaments before. That’s four to six weeks of a makeshift Pride roster — not including any recovery time off for players whose teams made deep runs in the tournament, which could tack on even more time.
Skinner has his work cut out for him in 2020 with the schedule the NWSL handed him and the departure of his best players for several weeks — at a period of time when the team has a lot of home matches and may need to make up ground for points dropped on the road-heavy early part of the schedule.
It will be interesting to see how the Pride handle this and whether Amanda Duffy will be patient through a period of adversity.