The Orlando Pride unexpectedly added midfielder Parker Roberts by signing the University of Florida product on Aug. 26, reuniting her with her college head coach, Becky Burleigh. The signing was unusual in that the Pride had to trade a fourth-round pick to Kansas City for her discovery rights and there wasn’t a huge need to add an additional midfielder at the time. Still, it was a low-risk move.
In the end, Roberts didn’t see the field much, and unless she is re-signed for 2022, the experiment will not be seen in retrospect as a success.
Roberts made only two appearances in 2021, coming off the bench for both of them and totaling only 22 minutes of playing time. She made her NWSL and Orlando Pride debut on Sept. 11 at home against Racing Louisville, logging just one minute in helping see out a 3-1 win. Her second appearance came in the Pride’s season finale, when she played 21 minutes against the Chicago Red Stars. She recorded no goal contributions or key passes but she did record one shot, which was on target, in the Chicago match. Roberts passed at a 58.3% rate, drew one foul while not conceding any, recorded one interception, and did not see any disciplinary cards from the referee in her first season in Orlando.
With so few games to choose from, it wasn’t hard to pick her best. Roberts’ best match was Oct. 29 vs. Chicago, when she managed more than 20 minutes on the pitch and recorded a shot on goal. The Pride may have been better served to play her more once they were eliminated from playoff contention to get a better sense of her value as an NWSL player.
2021 Final Grade
With just 22 minutes on the pitch, the 24-year-old native of Leawood, KS doesn’t qualify under the minimum requirements for a season grade. She gets an incomplete grade from The Mane Land staff as she wasn’t on the pitch long enough to show what she can do. It would have been nice to have seen more of her in the final matches for evaluation purposes, if nothing else.
Roberts’ deal was through the end of the 2021 season, so Orlando would need to re-sign her to bring her back for 2022. Although that could happen, her own college coach — who knows her best as a player — hardly gave her a runout, even when there was nothing much for the team to play for, so that doesn’t seem a strong indicator that bringing Roberts back will be a priority this off-season. Still, there are more expensive options on the team who didn’t exactly perform well in 2021, so she may be a budget-friendly depth option. If the Pride bring Roberts back for 2022, I wouldn’t expect her to log a lot of minutes, but she could be a good practice player who provides depth.