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Orlando Pride Acquire Rights to England International Forward Jodie Taylor

The Pride send defender Carson Pickett to the North Carolina Courage in the deal.

Juventus Women v Olympique Lyonnais Women - UEFA Women’s Champions League Round of 32: First Leg Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The Orlando Pride have acquired the NWSL rights to Olympique Lyon forward Jodie Taylor from the North Carolina Courage in exchange for defender Carson Pickett. The defender had not yet reported to the Pride’s preseason camp.

“On behalf of everyone here at the Pride, I’d like to thank Carson for her contributions both on the field and as a member of the Orlando community,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “We wish her the best of luck in this new opportunity with the Courage.”

Taylor, 34, is currently playing overseas with Olympique Lyon of France’s Division 1 Féminine. Since joining the club in August 2020, Taylor has two goals in nine appearances. She has two appearances in the UEFA Champions League.

The native of Birkenhead, England, is no stranger to the NWSL, playing for three of the league’s clubs since 2014. She most recently spent three seasons with OL Reign from 2018-2020, She played in 40 matches with the Reign, scoring 14 goals, before her rights were traded to North Carolina in December along with Taylor Smith in exchange for Ally Watt.

Before joining OL Reign, Taylor played with Melbourne City in Australia’s W-League, scoring two goals in six appearances in 2017-2018. That came on the heels of a stint with Arsenal from 2016-2017, where she scored 10 goals in 17 games. She scored three times in seven games with the Portland Thorns in 2015 and 11 goals in 21 games with the Washington Spirit in 2014.

Previously, Taylor spent time in the USL W-League with various sides before joining the Melbourne Victory in 2010. She spent two years with Birmingham City, which included loan spells to Lincoln Ladies and Swedish side Göteborg before signing with Sydney FC in 2013.

The former Oregon State Beaver was named to her school’s hall of fame last year. During her college career from 2004-2007, Taylor scored a school record 47 goals. She is also the school’s all-time leader in points (113). She earned Freshman All-American honors in 2004, was a four-time All-Pac 10 first team honoree, and was named to the All-Region team three times.

As an England international, Taylor has 48 caps and 19 career goals. She represented England at the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups, scoring a goal at each, and was a member of the Lionesses’ 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro squad.

Pickett, 27, was acquired by the Pride from the then-Seattle Reign on Jan. 29, 2018 in a trade that also brought Christine Nairn to Orlando in exchange for defender Steph Catley. The Florida State product made 39 appearances (35 starts), playing 3,069 total minutes with the Pride in 2018 and 2019 before going on loan to Cypriot side Apollon Ladies FC last season. She didn’t score a goal with Orlando but did contribute one assist in 2019.

What it Means for Orlando

The Pride are thin at the forward position with just Alex Morgan, Marta, and Sydney Leroux, who re-signed on a three-year contract yesterday. Head Coach Marc Skinner spoke during a Zoom press conference yesterday about the intention of using 2020 NWSL Draft pick Taylor Kornieck in an attacking role and mentioned potentially moving midfielder Marisa Viggiano up in the formation during international absences of his star strikers.

Taylor, if signed, would give the Pride four talented strikers, but all are north of 30 years old. While none of them are exactly over the hill, injuries and wear and tear are always a concern. But the deal does address an area of need, despite the fact that Taylor is still subject to call-ups from England, so she might provide little relief from absences by Morgan and Marta.

Ali Riley and Courtney Petersen will be handling left back duties with Pickett out of the picture, but the loss of a good ambassador for the club will be difficult to take if the Pride don’t bring Taylor to Orlando. I’m not reading too much into Fleming not addressing Taylor at all in his press release quote, but I do find it interesting.