The Orlando Pride announced the signing of midfielder Parker Roberts after trading a 2022 fourth-round pick to Kansas City for her discovery rights. Roberts is signed to a deal for the remainder of the 2021 season. The signing reunites the former Florida Gator with her college head coach, Becky Burleigh.
“Parker is a player who was on our radar leading into the last NWSL Draft, and we’re pleased to add her to what we feel is already an impressive core of young players,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “Linking back up with Becky [Burleigh] and Alan [Kirkup] will provide her with a familiar environment under which she can continue on her development pathway, and also provide our team with another option in the middle of the pitch as we enter the final stretch of our season. We look forward to watching Parker take her first steps as a professional and growing into her role as a member of the Pride.”
The Leawood, KS native has yet to play professionally, but had an accomplished collegiate career in Gainesville. She made 65 appearances, scored 13 goals, and registered 10 assists for the Gators, also serving as a team captain. Her last season saw her score five goals and five assists, both career highs (also had five goals in junior season), while being named to the All Southeastern Conference second team. Prior to her arrival in Gainesville, Roberts played at the University of Kansas in 2015, making 20 appearances in her freshman season, scoring three goals and adding an assist and making the Big 12 All-Freshman team.
In 2016, Roberts was a part of the U-20 World Cup with the United States U-20 Women’s National Team, playing twice in the group stage, including a start against France.
Roberts joins a group of young midfielders including 2020 draft picks Taylor Kornieck and Chelsee Washington.
What It Means for Orlando
This isn’t likely a season-changing move by the Pride, but it makes sense on a number of fronts. There’s minimal risk involved in making the move, as a fourth-round pick isn’t an expensive cost to acquire a player and the club isn’t committed long term if things don’t work out, as the signing is through the end of this season.
Roberts is a player who Burleigh knows and trusts. This is a deal that would likely not have been made at this time without Burleigh in charge of the club, regardless of whether she was on the Pride’s radar heading into the 2021 draft. It’s never a bad idea to add a player who is familiar with the coach’s system, expectations, and way of doing things. Roberts may also be able to help with the conversion of Kornieck to a No. 6, which is a project that Burleigh has referenced in recent weeks.
The signing also provides more depth for the Pride at midfield, and potentially will allow Burleigh more flexibility to move Gunny Jonsdottir to right back in place of Ali Riley late in games. Jonsdottir isn’t a fullback by trade but played well at right back early in the season and Carrie Lawrence hasn’t been available much of the 2021 season.
For Roberts, it’s an opportunity to get her professional career going and potentially win a roster spot for 2022.