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2022 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Megan Montefusco

How did the Pride’s most consistent center back perform in 2022?

NWSL: Washington Spirit at Orlando Pride Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride sent Marisa Viggiano to the Houston Dash in exchange for Megan Montefusco, $30,000 of Allocation Money, and OL Reign’s natural third-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft prior to the 2022 season. The Naperville, IL native signed a two-year contract through 2023 with a one-year option into 2024.

Montefusco was brought in to shore up a back line desperately in need of reinforcements. She immediately won the starting job, and played all but one of the 2022 Challenge Cup matches, and only missed one match in the regular season while serving a yellow card accumulation suspension.

Let’s take a look back at the veteran center back’s season.

Statistical Breakdown

In the 2022 Challenge Cup, Montefusco made five appearances (all starts) for a total of 450 minutes. She took one shot, which she put on target, but recorded no goals or assists. Montefusco completed 158 of her 208 passes for a 76% passing rate, and completed 24 of her 54 long passes (44.4%). She did not have a key pass or a cross attempt. Defensively, she made 14 clearances, eight interceptions, and five blocks, and won 19 of her 36 duels (52.8%), but just three of 12 aerial duels (25%). Montefusco committed three fouls, suffered four fouls, and earned one yellow card.

In the 2022 regular season, Montefusco made 21 appearances with 21 starts for a total of 1,861 minutes, playing mostly as a defender but also seeing time in the midfield. She took five shots with one on target and did not score or assist on a goal. She completed 787 of her 1,007 passes for a 78.2% passing rate, and completed 80 of her 184 long passes (43.5%). She also attempted two unsuccessful crosses and made five key passes. Defensively, she was successful on 13 of 22 tackles (59.1%), made 70 clearances, 31 interceptions, and 11 blocks. Montefusco won 76 of her 127 duels (59.8%) and 31 of 48 aerial duels (64.6%). Montefusco committed 15 fouls, suffered nine fouls, and earned seven yellow cards.

Best Game

Montefusco’s best game came in the Pride’s 2-1 win over NJ/NY Gotham FC. She got the start and played all 90 minutes. It was the last match of the Pride’s seven-game undefeated streak, and the defense was able to secure the win. Montefusco almost scored a header from Meggie Dougherty Howard’s free kick in the eighth minute, but it went wide.

Montefusco also contributed on the defensive side when she was there to block Taylor Smith’s shot from inside the box to keep Gotham off the board. Even during the previous six matches during that unbeaten streak. the Pride were not always able to win, however, they were able to do so in this match thanks to a good effort from the defense. Montefusco and the Pride defense were able to keep Gotham from getting any dangerous chances once they had the lead.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Montefusco a composite rating of 5.5 out of 10 for the 2022 season. Montefusco was often paired with Toni Pressley, but I don’t think that was Plan A. The season-long injury to first-round draft pick Caitlin Cosme and the departure of Amy Turner and eventually Amanda Cromwell, led to a less-than-ideal center back situation. although Carrie Lawrence did emerge as a viable center back option.

Still, the fact that Montefusco got as much playing time as she did doesn’t mean she didn’t deserve it. It is difficult for a back line to coalesce without a stable center back pairing. Hopefully, the Pride will find one next season, and Montefusco may be a part of it.

2023 Outlook

Montefusco is under contract with the Pride through 2023 with an option year for 2024. The center back will be a part of the Pride’s plans in the upcoming season, and hopefully a consistent partner will be found for her. It is imperative that the Pride shore up the defense, and a consistent center back pairing is central to that effort. Montefusco has the experience to help Cosme develop once she’s back from injury. We’ve seen what a good center back pairing can do for Orlando City when both Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos are healthy. Let’s hope the Pride can find their defensive core in 2023.

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