The Orlando Pride have now officially traded star forward Alex Morgan to NWSL expansion side San Diego Wave FC. In return, the Pride receive Welsh international midfielder Angharad James and a league-record $275,000 in allocation money. The Wave initially announced the move on Dec. 13, but the teams had to wait until the NWSL trade window opened to make it official.
The trade announcement formally ends Morgan’s six-year run with the Pride, which began with the team’s inaugural season in 2016. Morgan initially joined the Pride in 2016 in a blockbuster trade heading into the 2016 season after spending three years with the Portland Thorns. The forward was immediately named captain of the team.
In her six years in Orlando, Morgan, 32, made 69 appearances with 64 starts and recorded 5,682 minutes. She is currently seventh all-time in appearances, fifth all-time in career starts, and fourth in all-time minutes for the Pride. Additionally, her 23 goals and 10 assists rank her second behind Marta in both categories.
“Alex has been the consummate professional and an integral part of bringing this franchise to Orlando and creating tremendous memories along the way,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “We are grateful for her leadership and she will always be a part of the Orlando Pride family. We wish her the best in this next chapter of her career. We continue to be excited for the future of our organization, including welcoming Angharad to our roster. She is a strong box-to-box presence and will be a stabilizing force in the midfield. She has proven this year that she can handle the rigors of our league, and we look forward to her continued growth and development playing in the NWSL.”
James, 27, joins the Pride after her first season in the NWSL with the North Carolina Courage. After joining in 2021 from Reading FC in England, the 27-year-old midfielder made 17 appearances (10 starts) for the Courage, scoring one goal with no assists in 827 minutes on the pitch. She attempted six shots, getting four on target.
Additionally, James has made nearly 100 appearances for Wales, scoring four goals, and was a member of the team’s UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying roster over the summer.
The trade continues a string of moves from the Pride as they rebuild the team. On Dec. 6, the Pride traded captain Ashlyn Harris and starting center back Ali Krieger to NJ/NY Gotham FC. That followed a deal that saw forward Jodie Taylor, who the Pride signed mid-season, go to the Wave.
In addition to the player transactions, the Pride also parted ways with Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Amanda Duffy and hired a new head coach in Amanda Cromwell from UCLA. Given the timing of rumors of the Cromwell signing, her resignation from UCLA, and the deals made, the new head coach seems to have had a say in each deal along with General Manager Ian Fleming.
What It Means for Orlando
Trading Morgan was expected as the team continues a complete rebuild. The biggest part of the deal is the $275,000 of allocation money, a league record. With U.S. Soccer and the NWSL’s announcement that they will no longer be paying NWSL salaries, it’s up to teams in the league to pay all players, including U.S. and Canadian internationals.
The allocation money can be used to buy down the contracts of those who would get more than the league maximum. The question now is how will the Pride use that money? Teams could only access $400,000 in allocation money in 2021, but that number could rise with all U.S. internationals now being paid by teams. That would make allocation money even more valuable.
The trade also likely brings an end to the big deals for the Pride this offseason. Harris, Krieger, and Morgan have all departed, leaving space for younger players as the Pride look to build a team that can reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017.