The Orlando Pride took a big step toward the team’s rebuild by signing 2021 draft selection and 2022 MAC Hermann Trophy finalist Mikayla Cluff (née Colohan) to a two-year contract. The BYU star midfielder returned to finish her collegiate career rather than joining the Pride last season and helped her team reach the College Cup, where the Cougars lost to Florida State in a penalty shootout to finish second.
The Pride made Cluff the fourth pick in the second round (No. 14 overall) in the 2021 NWSL Draft. She was the second midfielder selected by the Pride in 2021 behind current Orlando player Viviana Villacorta.
“Mikayla is one of the most exciting and promising young talents in our game, so we are thrilled to welcome her to our club and the city of Orlando,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said. “Over the last year, as she chased a national championship and continued to garner collegiate accolades, we made sure to keep in regular communication so we can quickly familiarize and integrate her into our group this season. We look forward to Mikayla’s continued development and can’t wait to see her suit up as a member of the Pride.”
Cluff spent five seasons at BYU and posted an incredible 18 goals and 15 assists in 24 games (all starts). She fired 134 shots, putting 61 on target. The Top Drawer Soccer Player of the Year made 93 career appearances (91 starts) while at BYU, amassing an impressive 53 goals and 39 assists. She was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist three times, earned All-American honors four times, was named WCC Offensive Player of the Year three times, and was a first team All-Region selection every season.
“I can’t wait for the opportunity,” Cluff — known as Colohan at the time — said via Zoom after being drafted. “I’m just excited to be a part of that city. Looking forward to it a ton and I just hope to bring my best. I hope anything that I can provide for the team and any assists that they need, I hope that I’m able to provide and I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to it.”
The 5-foot-8 midfielder from Kaysville, UT compiled a plethora of accolades in high school, including the Utah high school assists record, with 35 in 2016 and 37 in 2015, Utah’s Ms. Soccer in 2016, Gatorade Player of the Year finalist, and Salt Lake Tribune 2015 MVP, among others.
What It Means for Orlando
Signing Cluff was vital for the Pride. The club’s midfield has struggled in recent years to provide connectivity between lines, which has affected the Pride’s ability to score goals. Cluff was an excellent distributor throughout her collegiate career and had the ability to finish as well. Those are two skills the Pride will need, particularly after losses in the attack.
Adding Cluff and a recovered Villacorta to the squad will help usher in a new youth movement for an Orlando side that has jettisoned several players over age 30. It was a particularly important signing after the Pride lost top draft pick Mia Fishel to Tigres. While Orlando will need to bring in some more help in other key areas, the midfield got a lot of help today.