The Orlando Pride announced the signing of midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard and 2021 NWSL Draft pick Kaylie Collins to new contracts ahead of the 2022 NWSL season. Dougherty Howard signed a one-year deal, while Collins is signed through 2023, although she’ll be put on the club’s supplemental roster for 2022.
Dougherty Howard, 26, returns for a second season with the club after being acquired from the Washington Spirit in a trade prior to the 2021 campaign. Collins, 23, becomes the third goalkeeper on the Pride roster, joining Erin McLeod and Anna Moorhouse.
“We’re all very pleased to get Meggie and Kaylie back under contract for the coming season,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “Meggie did not take long establishing herself as an important and reliable part of our midfield last year and has been progressing well yet again in preseason this year. In Kaylie, we have a goalkeeper who we feel is on a very strong development path and are excited to see her grow into the player and natural leader that we have already seen the makings of since drafting and bringing her to Orlando last season. We continue to build toward a successful 2022 and beyond for our new Pride.”
Dougherty Howard came over from the Spirit along with the No. 9 pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft (which yielded Viviana Villacorta), the Spirit’s first-round pick in 2023, and $140,000 in allocation money, in exchange for defender Emily Sonnett. The University of Florida product and native of Largo returned to her home state and made an impact right away, starting against Racing Louisville for her first Pride appearance on April 10 in the team’s first 2021 NWSL Challenge Cup match and went the full 90 minutes, assisting on both Pride goals in a 2-2 road draw.
She missed the next game due to injury but finished the Challenge Cup with three appearances (one start), logging 100 minutes, but just 10 over the last two games while coming back from injury. Defensively, she chipped in a clearance and two interceptions, winning all five tackle attempts, eight of 14 (57.1%) of her duels, but not winning her only aerial duel attempt. Offensively, she did not score but set up goals for Taylor Kornieck and Abi Kim at Louisville. She didn’t attempt a shot but created four scoring chances, and three successful crosses, completing 67.3% of her passes, including an impressive 90.9% in her own half. She won two fouls and conceded two and was not booked.
In the regular season, MDH played in 21 of the Pride’s 24 matches, starting 15 and subbing out 12 times, while logging a total of 1,251 minutes played. She did not score a goal but provided one assist, attempting just four shots and getting one on frame. She had two successful crosses and created 11 scoring chances over the 2021 season, passing at an efficient 78.9% rate overall (86.3% in her own half and 69.1% in the opposition’s half). Defensively, she had 13 clearances, a block, and 19 interceptions, winning her tackles at a 63% rate (17/27), her duels at just a 40.3% clip (48/119), and didn’t excel in the air, with just a 27.8% success rate (5/18). From a discipline standpoint, Dougherty Howard won nine fouls but conceded 16. Some of those were professional fouls to break up a dangerous situation while others were simply being late, and she earned five yellow cards on the season.
Dougherty Howard received a rating of 6 out of 10 from The Mane Land staff for her performance in 2021, which was one of the better scores on the squad.
Collins was initially drafted by the Pride with the fourth pick of the fourth round (34th overall) in the 2021 NWSL Draft. She went on to sign with the Pride as a National Replacement Player on June 4 of last year but never made an appearance for the club.
Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Collins spent five years at USC, starting her last four seasons. She made a total of 66 appearances (65 starts) for the Trojans, conceding 54 goals and making 210 saves in 5,890 minutes. She ended her collegiate career with a goals per game average of 0.83 and a save percentage of 79.5%.
While at USC, the Clayton, CA native was awarded with several honors. She was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team following her redshirt freshman year. Her sophomore year saw the young goalkeeper named Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year, First Team All-Pac 12, First Team All-Region, and second team All American. Collins was also named third team All-Pac 12 her senior season.
At the international level, Collins played for the U.S. U-14 and U-15 national teams. However, she hasn’t been named to a national team since representing her country at the U-15 level.
What It Means for Orlando
Bringing back both players was expected, as both were on the club’s 2022 preseason camp roster. They were out of contract after the 2021 season but the Pride announced in early December that both had been offered new deals for 2022.
MDH provides a veteran presence in the Pride’s central midfield. She is an underrated passer and creator and a smart player who can sniff out danger before it becomes a problem. Her role seemed to fluctuate in 2021 at times, particularly before Marc Skinner departed as head coach. Under Amanda Cromwell, look for Dougherty Howard to provide some stability in the middle of the pitch. The key word that Fleming used is “reliable.” Her play isn’t flashy, but it’s important.
Collins’ signing sees the Pride round out their goalkeeping unit for the 2022 season. McLeod remained on the team from last season and Moorhouse was signed on January 31. Collins was also one of two players from the last two Pride drafts whose future was undetermined. Viviana Villacorta, Mikayla Colohan, Kerry Abello, Caitlin Cosme, and Julie Doyle have already been signed. Additionally, Mia Fishel decided to spurn the Pride for Tigres Femenil in Mexico. With the signing of Collins, her USC teammate Jada Talley is the only player whose future is undecided.
The signing of MDH and Collins means only Parker Roberts remains to be signed among those returning players who were offered new contracts for 2022.