The Orlando Pride signed veteran fullback Kylie Strom from Atletico Madrid on July 5, looking to bolster a back line that lost Ali Riley to the Olympics for a time, while backup Carrie Lawrence was also dealing with injury issues. Lawrence lost 12 matches to injury in 2021 and was an unused sub the rest of the year after Strom’s arrival.
But Strom never seemed to fully integrate into the side after her arrival from Spain. In fact, the Endicott, NY native seemed to do more harm than good in multiple games after her arrival and spent most of the final stretch of the season on the bench.
Strom made her Pride debut on July 9, playing four minutes against Racing Louiville in a 1-1 home draw. She got her first start for Orlando in the next match in a 2-1 loss at Portland and conceded a penalty when she was beaten by Meghan Klingenberg and then tripped her in the box. Ashlyn Harris stopped the ensuing spot kick attempt to prevent a more lopsided scoreline.
She finished the season with nine appearances (four starts), playing a total of 350 minutes. She made no goal contributions, attempted two shots (one on target), and made one key pass. She completed 67.5% of her passes overall and 75.4% in her own half, meaning one of every four pass attempts in her defensive half went awry. This was about 9% lower than Riley’s rate but actually a couple percentage points higher than Courtney Petersen, although the latter fullback also played some in the midfield. She was also poor on long passes, connecting on just 22.2%.
Defensively, Strom made 10 clearances, five interceptions, and one block. She won 66.7% of her tackle attempts, 58.3% of her duels, and 75% of her aerial duels. She won 11 fouls while committing 10 and three of her 10 fouls (30%) resulted in bookings — all yellow cards.
She only appeared in only two games in which Orlando won, and she totaled just three minutes in those two matches — one minute at Chicago on Aug. 8 and two minutes Aug. 29 at Gotham. Strom’s best passing percentage of the season (87.5%) came in a match against the Washington Spirit on Aug. 22, but she also made a dreadful mistake on a clearance attempt that allowed Ashley Hatch to easily tie the game and the Spirit went on to win.
The obvious choice is the Pride’s 1-1 road draw at the North Carolina Courage on July 31. Strom played the full 90 minutes for the only time all season, attempted a shot in the game, and registered her first (and only, so far) shot on target for the Pride. It wasn’t a great passing night at only 60%, but she also contributed a key pass. She led the Pride with 76 touches and finished with two tackles, two fouls won, and four fouls conceded.
2021 Final Grade
Strom’s 350 minutes landed just shy of the minimum of 360 required to earn a grade, which is probably for the best, as it likely wouldn’t have been a very high rating from The Mane Land staff. Instead, she will receive an incomplete. The overall staff opinion is that Strom simply didn’t play well in the opportunities that were presented, although it’s always difficult joining a team in the middle of the season and adjusting to a different league.
Because the Pride signed Strom to a two-year deal with an option for an additional year, it seems likely she will be back in 2022. Perhaps, with a new coach and a full training camp with the Pride, her play will show enough improvement to justify the length of the contract the club offered her. If she continues to struggle and do more harm than good on the defensive end — conceding penalties and making glaring mistakes in her box that cost the team points — as she did in 2021, her time in Orlando will be short. But if she can have a good camp, gain some chemistry with her teammates, and play well in whatever style the next coach uses, she could still salvage her time with the Pride.