The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon the signing of defender Phoebe McClernon two a two-year contract. Barring a trade, the deal will keep the 2020 NWSL Draft selection in Orlando through the 2022 NWSL season.
McClernon was selected by the Pride with the fifth pick of the second round (14th overall) in the 2020 NWSL College Draft. The University of Virginia product was signed to a short-term contract prior to the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup but went to Swedish first division side Växjö DFF after the Pride were forced to withdraw from the competition due to positive COVID tests.
“We’re very excited to welcome Phoebe back to Pride,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said in a club press release. “She has gained valuable experience playing in the Damallsvenskan and this will only help with the maturity of her performance. Phoebe possesses many skills that will make her an excellent defender for our team and, already knowing her character, I believe she will offer a lot of quality and help us build a solid foundation for the club moving forward.”
The 23-year-old defender made 12 appearances in the Damallsvenskan for Växjö, leading all NWSL players on loan in the league with 156 challenges. She also made an appearance in the Svenska Cupen, the country’s women’s knockout tournament.
Prior to being drafted by the Pride, McClernon made 88 appearances for the Virginia Cavaliers, recording one goal. She was named All-ACC for three straight seasons and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-Region First Team in 2018. She has also previously made appearances for the U.S. youth national teams, with the latest coming in the 2018 Thorns Spring Invitational with the U-23s.
What It Means for the Pride
The signing is not very surprising as McClernon’s rights were protected by the team during the 2020 NWSL Expansion Draft. She was one of 11 players on the initial list of protected players that were unavailable for selection by Racing Louisville in November.
McClernon is a versatile defender who can play either inside or outside back. Her addition provides depth for a team that has lacked it in the past. While she’ll likely start the season on the bench, she could compete for a starting spot and she will likely see significant playing time when Ali Riley, Ali Krieger, and Konya Plummer are on international duty.