The Orlando Pride signed English forward Jodie Taylor on July 8. They had lost Alex Morgan (United States) and Marta (Brazil) to the Olympics, and Taylor was brought in to pick up the offensive slack. The striker got off to a good start, scoring in back-to-back games, but was unable to find the scoresheet consistently in an ultimately disappointing campaign.
Taylor made her Pride debut on July 24 against OL Reign in Orlando. She went on to start each of the final 13 games, recording a total of 960 minutes. After taking some time to integrate into the team, Taylor seemed to hit her stride, scoring in her third and fourth games. The first came in the 15th minute of a 2-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars.
The second was the lone Pride goal in a 1-1 draw against the Portland Thorns.
Additionally, she assisted Marta’s goal in the 2-1 loss against the Washington Spirit in her fifth appearance.
The forward didn’t score again until the penultimate game of the season, when she netted her third goal three minutes into the game against Racing Louisville FC.
The 5-foot-6 forward went up for 18 aerial duels and won just six. However, her goal against Portland was with her head.
Taylor ended the season with three goals and one assist. She took 10 total shots and put six of those shots on target. As the target striker, Taylor wasn’t involved in the buildup much, only playing 15.7% of her 223 passes forward. However, she completed 176 of those passes for a 78.9% success rate and contributed 12 key passes.
Another job for Taylor as the target striker was her hold-up play and drawing fouls. She drew 10 fouls and conceded 13 in her 13 appearances. She was booked three times this year, but all were yellow cards. Defensively, she contributed four clearances and two interceptions, and won 70% of her tackle attempts.
Taylor’s best game could be either her second or third start. She had a goal in each and multiple shots on target. However, we’re going to call her Aug. 14 game against Portland her best of the season. In addition to scoring the opening goal in the 13th minute, Taylor had three shots and put all on target. After scoring once with her head, she nearly gave the Pride a 2-0 lead in the 70th minute, connecting with a Meggie Dougherty Howard cross that forced Bella Bixby into a quick reaction save. In her 82 minutes that game, Taylor had 29 touches and completed 84.2% of her 19 passes. She also had a tackle and drew a foul, while conceding three fouls.
Had she finished her second-half header or Simone Charley hadn’t equalized in the 78th minute, Taylor would’ve had winning goals in back-to-back games. Regardless, she was active and involved, resulting in her best performance of the season.
2021 Final Grade
Taylor was really involved in some games but was invisible in others. She started the season great, but only recorded one goal and no assists in her final eight games. For her inconsistency this year, she’ll receive a composite grade of 5.5 from The Mane Land staff.
The Pride acquired Taylor’s rights on Feb. 4 when they traded Carson Pickett to the North Carolina Courage. However, her contract only ran through the end of the 2021 NWSL season. Whether she returns likely depends on who else returns next season. Marta will be 36, Morgan could decide to return to southern California (Angel City FC), and the Pride will have a new coach.
If Taylor does return, she has shown that she can be a crucial part of the team. At 35 years old, it would likely be a short-term contract but her experience and leadership could be valuable if she can be more consistent.