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2021 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Gunny Jonsdottir

The Icelandic international showed her versatility in 2021.

Orlando Pride v NJ/NY Gotham City FC Photo by Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Orlando Pride acquired Icelandic international midfielder Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jonsdottir and the rights to Erika Tymrak from Kansas City on Jan. 30, prior to the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup and regular season. The Pride sent veteran Kristen Edmonds and Orlando’s natural second-round selection in 2022 to the expansion side in the deal.

The 33-year-old became a key player for the Pride in her first season in Orlando, appearing in every regular-season game. Let’s take a look back at Jonsdottir’s first season with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Jonsdottir missed the Pride’s first two matches in the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup due to international duty. She made her debut for Orlando on April 21 against the Washington Spirit and played every minute of the Pride’s final two matches in the competition, logging 180 minutes without a goal or an assist and just one shot (off target). As she grew accustomed to her new teammates, and to playing right back instead of in the midfield, she passed at a 62.9% rate (77.4% in her own half), but struggled on long pass attempts, going 0-for-8. She had one successful cross but no key passes.

Defensively, she made five clearances with one block and one interception, winning three of five tackle attempts (60%), eight of 14 duels (57.1%), and three of six aerial duels (50%). Despite playing an unfamiliar position, she committed only one foul over the two matches and was not booked.

In the regular season, Jonsdottir appeared in all 24 matches (all starts), playing right back twice and in the midfield 22 times. She was subbed off only four times all season and amassed 2,068 minutes on the pitch. She scored one goal and added two assists, attempting 12 shots and getting five on target. Here’s a look at her first goal for the Pride, which came on a header in a loss to the Houston Dash:

Jonsdottir created 10 scoring chances and completed six successful crosses on the year, passing at a rate of 75.7% (82.8% in her own half and 64.9% in the attacking half). She played 40.5% of her passes forward, dropping a ball backward only 15.2% of the time and the rest were left or right as she looked to move the ball productively up the field.

On the defensive end, Jonsdottir finished with 43 clearances, 14 blocks, and 54 interceptions. She won an impressive 24 of 37 tackle attempts (67.9%), 113 of 194 duels (58.2%), and 35 of 60 aerial duels (58.3%). In terms of discipline, Jonsdottir won 34 fouls from the opposition while committing 22 of her own, earning three yellow cards on the season but was not sent off.

Best Game

All of Jonsdottir’s direct goal contributions came in back-to-back matches on June 23 and 26. Her best match of the season came in a 3-1 win over Kansas City at Legends Field on June 23. Gunny started the match at right back and played the full 90 minutes, playing a key role in the Pride victory.

Jonsdottir’s pass in the 49th minute set up Sydney Leroux’s second goal of the match to give the Pride the lead after they fell behind early. You won’t see the delivery in this video but you’ll see the ball arrive on the left to Leroux on the long ball up the pitch from Gunny.

She also gave Marta the ball on a short pass in the midfield that led to the insurance goal in the 85th minute. The Brazilian took a couple dribbles and scored a wondergoal from long distance.

In addition to the two assists, Jonsdottir had the team’s second-most touches in the match (45), passed at a 72.7% rate — which doesn’t sound that great, but it was third best on the team of anyone with at least 10 attempts — won three fouls while committing two, created one scoring chance, and recorded one tackle.

The win was the last result for Orlando in its season-opening seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3) — the best start in club history.

2021 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Jonsdottir a composite score of 6.5 for the 2021 season. Whether she was filling in at fullback or playing central midfield, the Garðabær, Iceland native played hard, gave her all, and generally did a solid job. Of all the team’s midfielders, she was the most consistent. While not spectacular, and not much of a contributor on the offensive end, she played her role admirably throughout 2021 and barely came off the field.

2022 Outlook

Jonsdottir’s option was picked up before the trade to the Pride by the now-defunct Utah Royals after the 2020 season, so her contract will need to be addressed if she is to return to Orlando for 2022. Jonsdottir is a valuable veteran presence and can help the club, but she’s also on the wrong side of 30 and will turn 34 next September, so Pride General Manager Ian Fleming will have to factor that into his decision-making process, especially if Orlando has to act on contracts prior to hiring a new coach. If a new coach comes aboard soon, that will also have an impact on whether Jonsdottir returns.


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