The Orlando Pride have announced the club has signed former Washington Spirit forward Crystal Thomas. After a short preseason trial period, Thomas has earned herself a one-year contract to join Orlando.
“We are very pleased to be able to add Crystal to the squad as we continue to build toward the coming season,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “She brings a style of play that will add another dimension for us on the field and I’m confident the best is yet to come for her.”
“I just know that they’re building something awesome here, so I’m excited to be here and get to work,” Thomas said after training today. “It’s been great. You can just tell there’s a lot of leadership. There’s a lot of experienced players that are bringing and setting that tone. I think that’s huge going forward. It’s been a really good first week and I’m excited to keep going.”
Thomas, 27, signed with Washington as an undrafted trialist in 2017. The Elgin, IL native made one appearance with the Spirit that season before moving on to play with Medkila IL in Norway and Valur in Iceland. She scored one goal in 10 appearances in Norway in 2017 and five goals in 18 matches in Iceland in 2018 before returning to the U.S. and rejoining the Spirit.
Upon her return, Thomas scored three goals in 13 matches during the 2019 and 2020 seasons and was named NWSL Player of the Week for Week 20 in 2019. Pride fans might recall her goal and assist in Orlando’s 3-0 home loss to the Spirit on Oct. 5, 2019.
After the 2019 NWSL season, Thomas went to Australia to play for Perth in the W-League, where she scored twice in 10 appearances while on loan with the Glory.
Thomas played in one NWSL Challenge Cup match and three Fall Series matches with the Spirit in 2020, scoring once. She was waived by Washington after the 2020 season.
During her collegiate career, Thomas spent two seasons at Notre Dame, playing in all of the team’s games her freshman season and being named to the All-Big East Rookie Team and the All-Big East second team. She totaled 13 goals in 46 appearances with the Irish before transferring to Georgetown after her sophomore season. After switching schools, Thomas sustained a torn hamstring and took a medical redshirt season, but she bounced back to score 19 goals and add eight assists in 47 appearances with the Hoyas.
On the international stage, Thomas has been called up to the U.S. U-20 and U-23 teams.
What it Means for Orlando
Obviously Fleming and Marc Skinner liked what they saw of Thomas during her trial period, which is a good sign that she’s fitting in to what the team wants to do. She seems to be a player with good vision and decent feet. Her tying goal against Chicago in the Fall Series (see video below) shows she has an ability to read the game and a good work rate.
This is a good depth move for Orlando, which has a lot of talent at forward but will likely lose Alex Morgan and Marta for a chunk of the season due to the Olympics. Thomas can fill in and spell starters off the bench. She should be a good addition to the squad.
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