The Orlando Pride have added help in the attack with the signing today of English forward Jodie Taylor. You may recall that the Pride acquired Taylor’s NWSL rights from the North Carolina Courage on Feb. 4 in exchange for defender Carson Pickett. Taylor is signed through the remainder of the 2021 season.
Taylor, 35, joins the Pride from French giants Olympique Lyonnais, where she spent the 2020-21 season. With Lyon, Taylor appeared in six league matches, scoring one goal, and competed in the 2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League final, helping her team to a 3-1 win over German side VfL Wolfsburg.
“Jodie is a proven goal scorer and has carried that across every club and every league she’s played for and in, and the value of her experience and professionalism is immeasurable,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “The day-to-day impact of having a player of her caliber in the squad will be a lift to our entire group as we continue to march toward our objectives for this season. We’re happy to be able to welcome Jodie back to the NWSL following her year in France, and excited that she will be a member of the Pride.”
“Every time I leave the U.S. and the NWSL, there’s certainly aspects of the league that I miss and it always brings me back,” Taylor said. “I’m super excited to be joining the Orlando Pride. Marc Skinner is a coach that I have actually wanted to play for, so that’s exciting. And following how the team has done this season, it’s great to see they started well. Midseason, I think it’s about just coming in and trying to adapt as quick as possible, trying to fit in as quick as possible, jell with the players, jell with the staff. I’m just really looking forward to getting going.”
Before joining Lyon, Taylor played in the NWSL from 2018-2020 with the club currently known as OL Reign. She appeared in 47 matches over that span, scoring 14 goals and adding four assists. The Reign traded her rights to North Carolina after the 2020 season.
Prior to joining the Reign, Taylor spent the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons in England, where she played 12 matches for Arsenal and six for Manchester City. She scored seven goals with the Gunners before netting twice the next season for City.
Taylor’s first NWSL stint began in 2014, when she appeared in 21 matches with the Washington Spirit, scoring 11 goals. She was traded to the Portland Thorns for the 2015 season. As a Thorn, Taylor played in seven matches and scored three times.
Prior to her time in the NWSL, Taylor played professionally in Australia, Sweden, England, and even spent some time in North America in the USL-W League with the Pali Blues, Ottawa Fury Women, and Boston Renegades. She scored 12 goals in 21 games in her two seasons with the Melbourne Victory in 2010-2012. She also won the 2017-2018 Grand Final with Melbourne City.
Internationally, Taylor has been capped 51 times for England and has scored 19 international goals.
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.
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride were in desperate need of a goal scorer with Alex Morgan away for more than a month with the United States Women’s National Team, so the short-term benefit is that Orlando gets an aging but proven goal scorer and one that knows the league well. She didn’t get a lot of time at Lyon, but that team is stacked. Taylor appeared in 40 of a possible 48 league matches in her time with the Reign (leaving in 2020 between the NWSL Challenge Cup and the Fall Series) and while she wasn’t an elite player, she provided a good return with her 14 goals.
Further, this at least presents some value in return for Pickett, who has flourished in North Carolina’s system. Had the club never received Taylor’s services, the Pickett trade would have been quite lopsided, and it may still prove to be. Pickett wasn’t terribly effective in Orlando, but that can be said for most of the team during her time with the Pride, to be fair. Still, Pickett is off to a potential Best XI start to the season with the Courage and Orlando had yet to see any return. It’s important for Taylor to come in and perform well. As I said in February’s trade story:
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.
Now that Fleming has indeed addressed the subject of Taylor, Marc Skinner may well be able to deploy Taylor at the top of his formation and let Sydney Leroux return to the wing, where she’s been having a terrific season, dropping back to do the gritty work the team needs, while still able to get forward and score goals. A front line of Leroux, Taylor, and Taylor Kornieck has some potential if the midfield can provide service.
With the contract lasting only until the end of the season, the Pride are not on the hook long term for a 35-year-old striker. So, from a business standpoint, this is a deal that makes sense for Fleming and the Pride. And if she performs well, the Pride could very well make her an offer for next season.