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2022 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Gunny Jonsdottir

The midfielder became the Pride’s on-field leader during the tumultuous 2022 campaign.

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

The Orlando Pride acquired Icelandic international midfielder Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jonsdottir and the rights to Erika Tymrak from Kansas City on Jan. 30, prior to the 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup and regular season. The Pride sent veteran Kristen Edmonds and Orlando’s natural second-round selection in 2022 to the expansion side in the deal. She became a key player for the Pride in her first season in Orlando, appearing in every regular-season game.

In her second season with the Pride, Jonsdottir was tasked with taking more of a leadership role with the team after the departures of several veteran players in the off-season. The 34-year-old, who has been primarily a box-to-box midfielder, was also expected to provide more offense due to her work rate and willingness to get into the box. She fought through a couple of minor injuries and missed a few games on international duty but turned in a second solid season with Orlando.

Let’s take a look back at Jonsdottir’s second season with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Jonsdottir played in all six of Orlando’s matches in the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, starting five and going the full 90 minutes in three of those games, logging a total of 471 of the available 540 minutes in the tournament. She fired nine shots that weren’t blocked and got three of them on target, scoring two goals. Jonsdottir completed 66.7% of her 177 pass attempts, completed five of her 10 long passes, and was successful 55.9% of the time when passing in the attacking half. She had one key pass and was successful on one of seven crosses but did not register an assist. Defensively, Gunny had 10 clearances, five interceptions, and two blocks, as she covered a ton of ground for the Pride. She won just three of eight (37.5%) of her tackle attempts, but 69.8% of her 43 duels and 81.3% of her 16 aerial duels. She won 10 fouls while conceding seven and was booked once.

In the regular season, Jonsdottir appeared in 16 of Orlando’s 22 matches, starting 11, going the distance in five, and logging 981 minutes. That’s quite a drop from her 2,000+ minutes a year ago. She took only five shots that weren’t blocked over the course of the season, putting two on target and they both resulted in goals. Her two goals was one off of Meggie Dougherty Howard’s team-leading three. The fact that central midfielders accounted for two of the team’s top goal-scoring totals in 2022 speaks volumes about the team’s lack of offensive threat.

Jonsdottir completed 74% of her 373 total passes, was successful on 41.2% of her long passes, and was accurate on 63.2% of her attempts in the attacking half. She created 10 scoring chances and had two successful crosses on nine attempts but did not get rewarded with an assist. Defensively, she tallied 22 clearances, eight interceptions, and a block, winning 66.7% of her tackle attempts, 54.1% of her duels, and 53.8% of her aerial duels. The veteran won 24 fouls while committing just 12, and she was not booked in the regular season.

Best Game

Jonsdottir had several good games that were nearly identical in terms of what she was able to accomplish, but I’ll go with her performance in Orlando’s 1-1 away draw against NJ/NY Gotham FC in the team’s Challenge Cup finale on April 23. Jonsdottir went the full 90 minutes but her day was nearly cut short inside the first 10. After suffering a knock in a collision early in the match, Jonsdottir was able to continue and was waved back onto the field just as the Pride were setting up to take a corner kick. Jonsdottir got her head to an Angharad James cross at the near post and headed it home to put the Pride up 1-0.

The midfielder attempted three shots in the match, equaling her season best for shot attempts and leading the Pride in that category, putting one on target — the one that became the goal. She had seven ball recoveries and won a tackle and an aerial duel. She also drew one foul without committing one.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Jonsdottir a solid composite rating of 6.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season, which is the same score she received last year. The veteran midfielder was asked to cover more ground in 2022 and did what she could to augment an anemic Pride offense. This sometimes left the team more stretched, but with so many young midfielders in the mix this season, someone needed to be willing to get forward and Jonsdottir was never shy about it. Her finishing rate was quite good but there just weren’t enough opportunities for her to get shots at goal. She was steady in her defensive play and her positioning was generally good, which went a long way in making up for her lack of pace that could sometimes become an issue when the ball got behind her during the opposition’s transition opportunities.

2023 Outlook

According to the Orlando Pride’s game notes, Jonsdottir is under contract through the 2023 season. If that’s accurate, we expect her role in 2023 to be similar to the one she had in 2022, but hopefully with fewer expectations on her to be a scoring leader. The Pride simply have to be better at creating chances for the forward line and the forwards have to be more clinical with the chances they get. Jonsdottir will again be a leader on and off the field and set an example with her work rate for others to follow. The Icelandic international still has some tread on the tires and she can often make up for not being blessed with the most pace on the squad with her ability to read the game and put herself in good positions. Although she’s at an age when the Pride might be better served if they had the squad quality to bring Jonsdottir off the bench in the second half rather than expect her to start and play an hour or more, the midfielder can still be a valuable asset in 2023.

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