The Liberian-born U.S. youth international made an immediate impact in her debut during the NWSL Challenge Cup and worked her way into the team several times under both Marc Skinner and Becky Burleigh during the regular season.
In the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup, Kim was subbed into the first two of the four games, playing 18 minutes. She came on for Taylor Kornieck in the 78th minute in the first game against Racing Louisville FC and replaced Marisa Viggiano in the 84th minute of the second game against NJ/NY Gotham FC.
During those 18 minutes, Kim completed all four of her passes and took two shots. Her most impactful moment of her first NWSL season came in that first game when her 88th-minute goal appeared to give the Pride the win in their first game of the year. Unfortunately, the Pride conceded a late equalizer.
Kim was on the team sheet in 20 of the Pride’s 24 regular season games, but was an unused sub in 14 of those games. She made six appearances during the season, racking up a total of 147 minutes and started on June 23 in Kansas City. Despite failing to record a regular-season shot, she got on the scoresheet for a second time on July 18 in Portland when she assisted on Viggiano’s late goal.
The attacker made 26 passes in her six appearances, completing 16 for a success rate of 61.5%. However, 87.5% of those passes occurred on her own half of the field and only 23.1% of the passes were forward.
Kim’s best game was her first for the Pride on April 10 in Louisville in the Challenge Cup. The Pride gave up an early goal, but Kornieck equalized just before the half. The rookie came on for the first-half goal scorer with 12 minutes to go as the Pride searched for a winner.
In the 88th minute, Kim made a run that started at the top of her own box, receiving the ball just inside of Louisville’s 18-yard box. With defenders closing in, her first touch lofted the ball over Louisville goalkeeper Michelle Betos and into the net, giving the Pride the lead.
It appeared that the rookie had given her team the win but, unfortunately, poor defending resulted in an equalizer three minutes into injury time. A minute after Louisville’s goal, Kim had another chance when a poor clearance landed at her feet on the right side of the box. While her first shot was beautifully taken, the second sailed high and wide of the net.
She did record an assist in the regular season, but it didn’t have the same impact as it came in the dying moments of a game in which the Pride trailed 2-0.
2021 Final Grade
Kim’s total of 165 minutes leaves her short of the minimum minutes needed for a grade and she therefore receives a rating of incomplete. Despite the lack of playing time, two coaching staffs saw her as a potential contributor and determined she was good enough to be on the bench. That’s a good sign moving forward for the young player. However, she’ll need to impress a new coaching staff next season as Burleigh won’t be in the running for the permanent position.
At only 22 years old, Kim has a lot of time to improve. However, she plays a tough position as the Pride are stacked up front. There won’t be any major international tournaments during the 2022 season, so Alex Morgan and Marta, should they remain on the roster, will be around for most of the year.
There are likely to be changes in the squad during this off-season after a disappointing 2021 season. However, as the team is now, Kim’s best chance to see playing time will be in July, when Morgan and Marta will be away for the Concacaf Women’s Championship and Copa America Femenina — both of which serve as World Cup qualifiers.
Look for more Orlando Pride Season in Review pieces over the course of the next few weeks.