The recent Orlando City signing of Facundo Torres got me wondering about the Orlando Pride. Prior to Wednesday’s signing of Mikayla Cluff, it had been a minute since we had any news regarding a new player for Orlando’s NWSL side. Indeed it’s been mostly the opposite with the departures of Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan, Emily van Egmond, and Taylor Kornieck.
We did get the welcome news that the Pride added soccer legend Michelle Akers to the staff as an assistant coach. Akers will be responsible for player development. Of course, that means having players to develop, and there are plenty of holes in the roster at this time. Let’s look at the areas of need for the Pride.
Orlando currently has only one goalkeeper under contract in Erin McLeod. While it’s possible that the club will re-sign Kaylie Collins, that move might have to wait for the Pride to fill the vacant goalkeeper coach position. Look for Collins and probably one more player to come on board.
The Pride did pick up some defensive players in their trade to move up for the No. 10 pick in the draft and select center back Caitlin Cosme. The deal also brought in right back Celia Jiménez and forward Leah Pruitt, though the club had to give up Phoebe McClernon to get them. McClernon has tremendous upside and The Mane Land staff felt she should have been given more chances last season. How big of a loss McClernon is will depend on how Cosme, Jiménez, and Pruitt perform. It also means the Pride are in need of another starting caliber center back.
Despite the departures of van Egmond and Kornieck, the Pride’s midfield is in decent shape. Yes Marta is getting a bit older as our Sean Rollins observed, but she can still contribute. Orlando’s 2021 draft pick, Viviana Villacorta, should provide a spark despite coming off a torn ACL last season. Veteran Erika Tymrak provides experience, and there are other options with the newly signed Cluff, as well as Gunny Jonsdottir and Marisa Viggiano.
Moving into the attack, things are a bit more dicey. Yes, Sydney Leroux is back and will most likely be the first-choice striker. The Pride also recently added 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. I already mentioned that Pruitt was acquired in the McClernon deal. The club drafted several forwards in the 2022 NWSL Draft as potential offensive players, including No. 5 overall pick Mia Fishel, Julie Doyle, and Jada Talley. Unfortunately, Fishel opted to sign with Tigres in the Mexican league. This is unfortunate for Orlando, but it’s hard to blame Fishel for signing for more money thanks to the limitations of rookie contracts in the NWSL.
The Pride are getting younger across the board, and I believe that Amanda Cromwell and her staff will be able to get the most of the players they have. However, I absolutely think that the club needs more proven players, especially at the center back and forward positions. There is plenty of Allocation Money and still some time to see it get done.