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2021 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Erin McLeod

The Canadian international goalkeeper was pressed into service in place of Ashlyn Harris several times in 2021.

Racing Louisville FC v Orlando Pride Photo by Jeremy Reper/ISI Photos/Getty Images

When the Orlando Pride and backup goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer parted ways on Feb. 4, 2020, the club had big shoes to fill. Kopmeyer was one of the more solid backup keepers in the league, and starter Ashlyn Harris is often away on international duty, meaning a quality replacement was an important signing.

But the Pride took care of that just 10 days later, signing Canadian international Erin McLeod to a one-year deal with an option year for 2021. With the 2020 Pride season being limited to just four Fall Series matches, McLeod finally got to show what she could do for Orlando in 2021, becoming a key role player backing up Harris.

Statistical Breakdown

McLeod did not appear in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup. She was away on international duty for the first two matches and Harris was available. Ironically, it was McLeod who was away during the Olympics on international duty, missing six matches from July 4 to Aug. 8, while Harris stayed in Orlando and backstopped the Pride.

The Canadian appeared in six regular-season games with the Pride (five starts), tallying 473 minutes played over the course of the regular season. She made her Pride debut at North Carolina on May 22 in a 2-1 road win — her first victory for the club. McLeod wasn’t able to keep a clean sheet for the Pride, but allowed just seven goals in her six appearances, finishing with a record of 3-2-0 as a starter. She also helped the Pride draw 1-1 at home against Houston on Sept. 5 after coming on for the injured Harris and not conceding over the final 23 minutes.

In her six matches, McLeod faced 76 shots and 23 of those were on target. She finished with a 69.6% save rate, seven clearances, two catches, and four punches, completing 119 of 166 passes for a success rate of 71.7%. Her long pass success rate was 45.3% (34/75). She was fouled once, did not commit any, and did not receive a booking in 2021.

Best Game

The 38-year-old veteran made her presence known right away. Her best game was her Pride debut on the road against the Courage in the team’s second match of the season on May 22. Orlando left Sahlen’s Stadium with a 2-1 win due in large part to McLeod’s efforts. She faced 16 total shots — the second most she faced all season — and five shots on target (also the second-most she saw in a game in 2021), stopping four. It wasn’t until Jessica McDonald’s consolation goal in the 88th minute that the hometown Courage were able to put one past her.

That goal was revenge for McDonald because McLeod’s 1-v-1 save on the striker’s breakaway in the 48th minute protected the Pride’s 1-0 lead.

McLeod also robbed McDonald on the doorstep after spilling a tough chance from in close from Lynn Williams in the 67th minute, again keeping her team on top.

The goal she gave up near the end would have been difficult to stop for anyone. The shot came from just a few yards out after a failed Pride clearance and some poor defending in the box gave the Courage star space right in front of goal.

McLeod’s efforts throughout the night helped the Pride earn their first win of the regular season. She also won the NWSL Save of the Week for the point-blank save in the second video above.

2021 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave McLeod a composite score of 6.5 for the 2021 season. She started strong and made some big saves but the overall impression is that the goalkeeper performed better earlier in the season than down the final stretch. It’s no coincidence that the rest of the team also performed better early and worse later on, and that does affect the goalkeeper. McLeod kept her team in games and was the solid backup the Pride needed behind Harris.

2022 Outlook

The Canadian international is out of contract after the Pride exercised her 2021 option year. She is still worth keeping around as a primary backup but it’s uncertain what the club will do with younger options like Brittany Wilson and Kaylie Collins waiting for an opportunity. The Pride could do much worse than to re-sign McLeod, but she’ll be 39 when the 2022 season rolls around. It will be interesting to see how the club approaches this roster spot in the off-season.

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