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Orlando Pride Part Ways with Midfielder Angharad James

The Orlando Pride and midfielder Angharad James have mutually agreed to terminate her contract with the club.

NWSL: Orlando Pride at Portland Thorns FC Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has parted ways with Welsh midfielder Angharad James. The 28-year-old joined the Pride via trade during this past off-season, but her days in Orlando were numbered when the contract of her fiance, former Pride center back Amy Turner, was bought out 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. James had been out on an excused absence for about a month prior to today’s news.

“We’d like to thank Haz for all of her contributions to the Pride this season,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “We are happy we are able to accommodate her personal desire to return to Europe and wish her the best of luck in the next step of her career.”

James joined the Pride on Dec. 16, along with $275,000 of Allocation Money, in a trade with San Diego Wave FC that saw Alex Morgan go out west. The midfielder spent one year in the NWSL with the North Carolina Courage prior to the trade to Orlando.

The Welsh international was expected to be a key part of the Pride during the team’s current rebuild. She played in five games with four starts during the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup, taking two shots and adding one assist. She played in six regular-season games with three starts and recorded one on-target shot but didn’t score during her short time with the Pride.

James started and played 90 minutes on June 19, a 6-0 loss to Portland Thorns FC, two days after Turner’s contract was bought out by the club. That was her last appearance for the Pride, as she hasn’t been in the team during the last three games. The club listed her under “excused absence” on the availability report.

As Fleming said in the statement, James has decided to return to Europe. In all likelihood, the midfielder was waiting to see where Turner ended up before officially parting ways with the Pride. Turner officially completed her move to WSL side Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, clearing the way to make James’ departure official.

Prior to joining the Pride, the Haverfordwest, Wales native made 17 appearances (10 starts) for the Courage during the 2021 NWSL regular season, scoring one goal with no assists in 827 minutes. She also previously played for several English clubs, including Reading, Everton, Yeovil Town, Bristol City, and Notts County.

Internationally, James has been a regular part of the Wales national team, making more than 100 appearances for her country. She was recently a part of the Wales UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 qualifying roster last summer.

What This Means for Orlando

This news isn’t surprising. It’s not uncommon for an NWSL player to follow a significant other to a city, like Sydney Leroux did when Dom Dwyer was traded to Orlando City. Turner arrived in Orlando last season, so it seemed as though James preferred to be on the team as well. Once Turner left, it was only a matter of time until James followed.

This move doesn’t help the Pride as they continue a complete rebuild. The team is very young this year, so James’ veteran presence helped. She played well overall in her short time with Orlando. However, having a player on the roster who doesn’t want to be on the team won’t help the process. Therefore, terminating her contract is the best option for both James and the club.

The Pride were previously under a roster freeze, meaning that the club couldn’t sign any new players. However, that freeze has since been lifted. As a result, the Pride have the option of signing a player to replace James. Fleming has acquired a large amount of Allocation Money that can help bring players in, but the general manager recently told The Mane Land that he won’t throw money around just to sign players. So a new signing to replace James may not be imminent.