clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Evaluating the Pride’s Draft Preparedness

The 2023 NWSL Draft is upon us, but are the Orlando Pride prepared to make the most of it?

Orlando Pride v North Carolina Courage Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The 2023 NWSL Draft starts in mere hours. The Orlando Pride are theoretically in a great position for this draft, though not quite as good as they were a week ago. I know that I’m ready for it. The staff at The Mane Land is ready to cover it, and I’ll bet you’re ready for it as well. My only real question is: are the Orlando Pride ready for it?

The big trade involving the Pride, Angel City FC, the Portland Thorns, and NJ/NY Gotham FC is done. Angel City will be picking Alyssa Thompson with the first pick the club acquired thanks to Allocation Money and other picks sent to Portland and Gotham. The Pride had the second and third overall picks, but thanks to the aforementioned deal, they sent the second pick to Gotham in exchange for $350,000 in Allocation Money and a fourth-round draft pick next year. This from the team that was already sitting on a pile of Allocation Money. The total is now believed to be somewhere near $1 million from the record trade mentioned above, previous trades, and the club’s own allotment.

When the trade first happened, I thought it might be that the Pride were trying to land Debinha. It wasn’t just a random theory, given that former Pride GM Ian Fleming sent out a cryptic tweet right after the news dropped that the Brazilian star was looking for a new club.

But maybe the timing on that was just a coincidence. Maybe.

The Pride had already signed Marta to a new contract, and the possibility of playing with Marta might serve as a bonus on top of any money for the younger Brazilian. Of course, we know the Pride did not sign Debinha since the Kansas City Current landed the star earlier this week. There are rumors that the Pride were trying to sign Debinha, and even offered more money than Kansas City. If that is true then there is a big problem — more than one actually.

The Pride have failed to fill the executive vice president and general manager position after letting Fleming go back on November 11 of last year — just over two months ago. Seb Hines is the new head coach, but so far he is the only person on staff that we know about. I am certain that there are scouts with the club, or other executives who are helping Hines with the draft, but if you were Debinha, and the Pride wanted you to come to a team with nearly no one in very important positions for running a club, would you? I hate that it’s the case, but I understand why she may have taken less money to go to Kansas City.

Looking at the draft, the Pride have the overall third, 21st, 25th, 29th, 34th, 39th and 41st picks. There are a lot of quality players that can be picked up in this draft to help a team with needs in nearly every position. One must assume that Hines is making the decisions on these picks, which is not a problem in and of itself. However, it could be a problem once the Pride finally hire the EVP/GM position if the players drafted don’t fit what that person envisions, which would likely also mean that Hines — in that case — wouldn’t fit with that vision either. Let’s hope that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

There is also the absolute mountain of Allocation Money available to the Pride. It could be used for trading during the draft for more veteran players, or even just signing quality players outside of the draft. None of that has happened, other than the possibility that the Pride were swinging for the fences with Debinha and struck out. There have been no rumors, no hints, no anything.

That brings us full circle to my question at the start of this article. Are the Pride, as an organization, ready for the 2023 NWSL Draft tonight? Unfortunately, I have no idea, and that really is the problem.

I’m hoping that my concerns are completely unfounded. I hope there is a master plan, with a strong GM candidate waiting in the wings who will soon be announced and has been in the discussions regarding personnel. I hope that the Pride didn’t actually lose out on Debinha and were planning on using that money for multiple players who can have an immediate impact this coming season. However, if I’m being honest, I can’t bring myself to believe any of that, and I think it’s going to be another long and disappointing season.