[Update 6/17/22 at 2:34 p.m. — Jeff Kassouf of Equalizer Soccer has reported that the Orlando Pride’s roster freeze is over]
Simultaneous to the end of that roster freeze, the Orlando Pride bought out the contract of defender Amy Turner. Turner is not discovery eligible in the #NWSL this calendar year, meaning she can't play in the league until 2023.— Jeff Kassouf (@JeffKassouf) June 17, 2022
In addition, Pride players have taken to Twitter in support of Turner, with Angharad James and OL Reign midfielder Jess Fishlock each expressing some outrage over whatever it was Turner was dealing with at the Pride. Turner herself weighed in with a neutral response but did indicate that she wished Orlando well in the future.
After a year in the @NWSL with @ORLPride, I have decided to move on and explore a new challenge in my career. Thank you to everyone at Orlando who supported me during my time there. Wishing the club good luck in the future! pic.twitter.com/tqXX3Qjgn2— Amy Turner (@amy_turner4) June 17, 2022
The original story is below the divider:
Center back Amy Turner’s stay in Orlando turned out to be a short one. The Pride announced today that the club has bought out the 30-year-old defender’s contract and she is free to join another team. This has apparently been approved by the league, despite an imposed roster freeze on the Pride during the investigation into whether Head Coach Amanda Cromwell and/or Assistant Coach Sam Greene have violated the NWSL’s policy against discrimination, harassment, and bullying.
“On behalf of the Pride organization, we’d like to thank Amy for her contributions to the club and wish her the best of luck moving forward,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release.
The Pride signed Turner from Manchester United on June 25, 2021 to a two-year contract with a club option for 2023. Turner came to Orlando under former coach Marc Skinner and proceeded to take Phoebe McClernon’s place in the starting lineup. Once she got on the field in 2021, she started 12 of the team’s final 14 matches.
However, 2022 has been a different story. Turner appeared in four of the team’s six NWSL Challenge Cup games, totaling 304 minutes with three shots, a 79% passing rate, and one yellow card in the preseason competition. But things changed significantly when the regular season started. She did not play in the Pride’s opening match and was on the injured list for the next three. Turner made her 2022 regular-season debut on May 22, playing 45 minutes in a loss to the Chicago Red Stars — and scoring her first goal with Orlando — before again sitting due to coach’s decision in the team’s three most recent games.
In fact, Turner did not make the roster for the most recent game in Chicago, despite the Pride not having any healthy center backs on the bench that night.
She leaves the team having made 19 appearances in all competitions, playing 1,453 minutes, scoring one goal with no assists, making one key pass, and earning six yellow cards. Turner earned a composite grade of 6 out of 10 for her 2021 season performance, as we noted:
At times she was excellent, but her performances were a little inconsistent. Part of that is because she joined the team midseason and it takes time for a center back partnership to become cohesive. However, she played well with Ali Krieger and Phoebe McClernon.
A native of Sheffield, England, Turner spent nearly three years with Manchester United before joining the Pride. She signed with the Red Devils ahead of their inaugural season in July of 2018. She made 67 appearances with United, scoring four goals. She previously played briefly with Manchester United rival Liverpool during the 2017 season after four years with Notts County from 2013-2016. During her time at Notts County, Turner appeared in 75 matches in all competitions and was shortlisted for the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year award in 2015.
Turner made her FA Women’s Premier League debut at age 16 with Doncaster before attending Hofstra University in 2009. Upon her return to England in 2011, she played with Leeds United and Sheffield in the WPL National and WPL Northern, respectively.
In international competition, Turner has represented England at the U-23 and senior national team levels, earning her first call-up to the English Women’s National Team for the 2015 Cyprus Cup. She earned her first international cap against Australia in March of 2015 and has made four appearances for England’s senior team.
What It Means for Orlando
It isn’t good. Whether Turner didn’t fit Cromwell’s system, if there was a personality clash, or if she no longer felt welcome, we simply don’t know at the moment. However, given the Pride’s performances at center back in 2022, in which converted fullback Carrie Lawrence has been the best performer at the position, Orlando could hardly afford to lose an experienced player in central defense, especially given the long-term injury with which rookie Caitlin Cosme has been dealing. Turner sat while others played and didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory.
When fans took to social media during the recent Chicago game to ask where Turner was, those tweets were “liked” by veteran striker Sydney Leroux, who missed that match due to injury. This would seem to indicate a possible rift in the locker room — either between players or between the players and coaching staff. Neither would be ideal.
While the NWSL transfer window is open, the Pride are allegedly not allowed to replace Turner, but then again my understanding of a roster freeze has been severely tested by this move, as well as the signing of Thais Reiss (although the latter makes much more sense given that she was already with the Pride as a practice player).
Orlando will be in the market for a center back once the roster freeze is lifted.