The Orlando Pride announced today that the team has acquired forward Darian Jenkins from the Kansas City Current in exchange for $75,000 in Allocation Money and the Pride’s natural second-round selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft. Orlando’s attack suffered veteran losses this off-season when Alex Morgan and Jodie Taylor left and Jenkins will be expected to help fill that void.
“We are very proud to be able to welcome Darian to our club,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a press release. “We have followed Darian’s progress for some time and felt that this was the right moment and the right deal to be able to bring her to Orlando. It is a new and exciting era for the Pride and Darian’s qualities fit the vision we have for the future of our organization. We are pleased that she is going to be a part of it.”
Jenkins, 27, spent the 2021 season with Kansas City, appearing in 22 matches (18 starts) for a total of 1,431 minutes played. She scored three goals, which tied for the club lead in that category, and attempted 29 shots (excluding blocked shots), getting 13 on target. Jenkins did not record any assists but did provide 14 key passes on 65.5% passing. The native of Murray, UT recorded 13 clearances and 11 interceptions, winning 57.7% of her tackles, 48.4% of her duels, and 59.4% of her aerial duels. She conceded 18 fouls while drawing 15 and was booked one time.
The North Carolina Courage’s second pick in the first round of the 2017 NWSL Draft (No. 7 overall), Jenkins spent her first pro season recovering from injury. She did not score in 13 appearances with the Courage in 2018 and came on as a sub in the NWSL final in North Carolina’s championship win over Portland.
The Courage traded Jenkins to OL Reign on Dec. 17, 2018, where she scored four goals and notched an assist in 23 appearances (16 starts) across all competitions from 2019-2020. The Reign loaned Jenkins to the Melbourne Victory in Australia for the 2019-2020 season, where she scored five goals in 13 games. She also went on loan to Bordeaux in the 2020-2021 season, making five appearances without a goal.
The Reign traded Jenkins to Kansas City in exchange for Tziarra King and a 2022 second-round draft pick on Jan. 4, 2021.
Jenkins played her college soccer under new Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell at UCLA. As a freshman, she led her team in scoring and helped the Bruins win the 2013 NCAA title. In her collegiate career, Jenkins scored 29 goals and added 12 assists for the Bruins in 76 appearances. She was named All-Pac-12 in three of her four years of college soccer.
She has also represented the United States at the U-17, U-18, and U-23 levels. She appeared in five matches with the U-17 team, scoring twice. She also played one U-23 match.
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride get a player in a position of need in Jenkins, and one who is familiar with Cromwell’s system. Hopefully that knowledge, along with Cromwell’s trust in Jenkins, will come in handy, because it seems like the Pride gave up a lot to get a player who has so far not produced at a high level as a professional. It may be that she just hasn’t been in the right situation so far, and she has struggled at times with injury issues. But if anyone knows what she can do and how best to deploy her, it’s Cromwell. So, there is some risk with this move, but it could pay off.
If you look at her seven career NWSL goals, Jenkins scored two of them in one match against the Pride in a 3-1 Reign victory on Sept. 7, 2019. Another came in a 2-2 season-ending draw at Orlando the same season. With nearly half of her NWSL goals coming against a bad 2019 Orlando team that finished 4-16-4, Jenkins still has a lot to prove as a professional player and if she can finally have a breakout year and produce, she can justify what the Pride gave up to get her.
At the very least, Jenkins is a decent depth signing at forward with a good amount of NWSL experience.