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Orlando Pride Re-Sign Defender Haley Hanson

The defender/midfielder, who filled in at multiple spots after arriving from Houston, signs through 2024.

NWSL: North Carolina Courage at Orlando Pride Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride announced that defender Haley Hanson has been re-signed to a two-year contract that will keep her in purple through the 2024 season. This is the Pride’s first bit of business to be announced since the end of the 2022 season. Hanson joined the Pride on Aug. 18 in a trade with the Houston Dash. The Pride gave up $75,000 in Allocation Money and a second-round draft selection in the deal. She joined Orlando for the stretch run, making her debut with the Pride on Aug. 20 in a 2-1 win over Gotham FC.

“We are thrilled to be able to extend Haley’s time in Orlando,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “Haley has embedded herself quickly and seamlessly into a new group of teammates and tactical system of play, and did so while exhibiting a work ethic and professional attitude that we want to be the standard at our club. We are all looking forward to seeing much more of her as we move into 2023 and beyond.”

Hanson appeared in six matches after joining the Pride, starting four and playing a total of 373 minutes. She did not score a goal or assist on one. She attempted two shots, but neither hit the target. She passed at a 73.8% rate, completing 118 of 160 attempts. Hanson committed four fouls without drawing one on the opposition and wasn’t booked as a member of the Pride. She split time between fullback and the midfield in her minutes with Orlando this season.

For her performance after the trade, The Mane Land staff gave Hanson a composite rating of 5 out of 10 for 2022. She had to quickly acclimate to a new team that — although not her fault — finished on a six-game winless skid to crash out of the postseason race.

Hanson, a native of Overland Park, KS, and a product of the University of Nebraska, was a teammate of Pride defender Megan Montefusco in Houston. She was the No. 7 overall selection in the 2018 NWSL Draft by Houston and has made 100 appearances in all competitions for the Dash. Hanson has one career goal, which she scored on Aug. 25, 2018 against Sky Blue FC. She also has three career assists.

She went on loan to Australia for the 2019-2020 season, appearing in 13 matches with Melbourne Victory and scoring one goal.

On the international stage, Hanson was called up to the United States Women’s National Team in April of 2018 and made her USWNT debut against Mexico on April 8 of that year. It is her lone senior cap to date. Hanson also played with the U-23 USWNT, with six career appearances from 2017 to 2019, helping the side win the 2018 Nordic Tournament.

During her collegiate career from 2014-2017, Hanson was a key member of the Cornhuskers, making 75 career appearances at Nebraska and scoring 19 goals to go along with seven assists. She was named to the All-Big Ten Team twice.

What It Means for Orlando

Hanson is a veteran who knows the league and understands what it takes to be successful in the NWSL, so it should be a good signing for the club for the coming years. We perhaps didn’t get to see her at her best in 2022 while trying to adapt to a new (and often chaotic) team in a new city. This move clarifies somewhat the defensive picture for 2023. The Pride hold an option year on Kylie Strom’s contract through next year, while Celia is believed to be out of contract. It would seem that Carrie Lawrence is no longer viewed as a fullback as much as a center back within the club.

The club’s postseason roster decisions will be crucial to the rebuilding process, so it will be interesting to see which players the Pride hang onto and which ones are let go. Fullback is a critical position in the NWSL and Hanson provides some experience there, as well as the ability to shift into the midfield when the need arises, and that versatility is good for Orlando.