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Orlando Pride Acquire Defender Haley Hanson from Houston Dash

Pride bolster back line by sending allocation money and a draft pick to Houston.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Orlando Pride Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming parted with more of his Smaug-like dragon’s hoard of Allocation Money today by sending $75,000 of it, along with a second-round draft pick, to the Houston Dash in exchange for defender Haley Hanson. The Pride get a much-needed boost to the back line by adding a key member of Houston’s 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup championship-winning side. The 26-year-old has been with the Dash for four and a half seasons and made 15 appearances (11 starts) with second-place Houston this season.

She will wear No. 2 for the Pride.

“Haley is a player that I’ve wanted to bring into our club for quite some time and I’m thrilled to be able to add her to our group for the stretch run of the season,” Fleming said in a club press release. “For the last few years, Haley has been a mainstay on the back line of an improving Houston side and her combination of athleticism, technical ability, and understanding of the game will be a great asset as we continue to build our squad both for the short- and long-term future in Orlando. The development of our new-look Orlando Pride continues and we are excited to have Haley be a part of it.”

Hanson, a native of Overland Park, KS, and a product of the University of Nebraska, was a teammate of Pride defender Megan Montefusco in Houston. She was the No. 7 overall selection in the 2018 NWSL Draft by Houston and has made 100 appearances in all competitions for the Dash. Hanson has one career goal, which she scored on Aug. 25, 2018 against Sky Blue FC. She also has three career assists.

She went on loan to Australia for the 2019-2020 season, appearing in 13 matches with Melbourne Victory and scoring one goal.

On the international stage, Hanson was called up to the United States Women’s National Team in April of 2018 and made her USWNT debut against Mexico on April 8 of that year. It is her lone senior cap to date. Hanson also played with the U-23 USWNT, with six career appearances from 2017 to 2019, helping the side win the 2018 Nordic Tournament.

During her collegiate career from 2014-2017, Hanson was a key member of the Cornhuskers, making 75 career appearances at Nebraska and scoring 19 goals to go along with seven assists. She was named to the All-Big Ten Team twice.

What It Means for Orlando

Back in early July, when The Mane Land had an exclusive interview with Fleming, he outlined his strategy for rebuilding the Pride and specifically discussed how he viewed the club’s acquisition of a large sum of Allocation Money in various trades, especially the one that sent Alex Morgan to San Diego.

“It’s (Allocation Money) not being tucked away. It’s not being withdrawn by ownership in order to make some profits and move the club away and this club is not being used,” Fleming says. “There’s never been any indication whatsoever that that’s the case.”

Instead, Fleming says that the Allocation Money acquired is there to be used to better the team for the future. But he also says that throwing around Allocation Money won’t help the team in the long run.

“I see what’s out there. And the thing is that I collected a certain amount of Allocation Money that wouldn’t be useful to spend immediately,” he said. “And I could. I can toss it around and we can make a one-off run and try to have a really great season right now, and then bankrupt ourselves for future seasons or mortgage our future in order to make one run at it. And that’s not what I want this to be right now.

“What I want is something that’s going to be successful over a number of years. We’re laying the foundation for something that is going to be good — not just this year, not just next year. For this to be something that we can carry on and have it be meaningful and find the right balance over the right amount of time to find success for a number of years.”

The draft pick sent to Houston was one the Pride previously acquired from OL Reign.

Hanson’s addition helps a back line that has been thin for some time. Hanson has played primarily right back and right wingback with the Dash in 2022. The Pride have mainly used Celia in that position this season with Carrie Lawrence transitioning to the team’s most reliable center back.

She has eight key passes this NWSL season and has been generally secure with the ball in her own half, passing at an 80% clip in her own half. She’s contributed 17 clearances, three blocks, and 23 interceptions this season. Her tackles rate is slightly ahead of Celia’s and she’s a tad behind Celia’s aerial duel percentage, with both players at 50% in overall duels won. Hanson will provide the team another option.

With the move for Ally Watt earlier this week, the Pride have parted with $200,000 in Allocation Money. While that seems a little on the high side to me, it would be worth the price if both Hanson and Watt become regular starters who can contribute.

At the very least, the Pride have added a veteran who knows the league and understands what it takes to be successful in the NWSL, which can only strengthen the overall squad.