With their second-round selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, the Orlando Pride added to the attack by selecting TCU forward Messiah Bright with the 21st overall pick. Bright has been in the USWNT youth setup, getting called up in 2022 to the U-23 national team camp and for U-18 USWNT training camps in Florida and Switzerland in 2018.
The Pride will hope the Dallas, TX native can get on the field early, as the forward was a scorer for the Horned Frogs. Bright is coming off a 10-goal season in which she added three assists in 23 games (all starts), playing 1,423 minutes.
The 5-foot-9 forward set a new school single-season record in goals scored in 2021 (17), tying for fourth nationally among all goal scorers. Four of her goals were game winners. Bright attempted 102 shots as a senior, getting 52 on goal. She was a 2021 United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and the Big 12 Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Bright played a total of 102 collegiate games with TCU (all starts), scoring 49 goals and adding 17 assists in 6,635 minutes on the pitch. She was the 2019 Big 12 Championships Offensive MVP, a 2019 United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-Midwest Region selection, and a 2019 First Team All-Big 12 player. She was on the TopDrawerSoccer.com Freshman Best XI and the 2018 Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year, was a 2018 Second Team All-Big 12 selection, and was on the 2018 Big 12 All-Freshman Team.
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride have a lot of holes to fill and one of the team’s greatest needs is to score more goals. Bright, who was expected by many to be selected much higher, could provide that, particularly if she can regain the goal-scoring form she had in 2021. She may turn out to be a great value pick as many expected her to come off the board earlier in the draft.
Orlando can use anyone capable of putting the ball in the net after scoring just 22 goals last season. The team’s leading goal scorer was midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, who signed as a free agent with San Diego earlier today. It will help to have Marta back in the lineup, but the Brazilian can’t do it alone. Having a player like Bright develop as a professional forward would help the offense quite a bit.