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Lion Links: 1/13/23

Orlando Pride select Emily Madril in NWSL Draft, Meggie Dougherty Howards signs with San Diego Wave FC, Orlando City is staying hungry in 2023, and more.

2023 NWSL Draft Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m feeling pretty good as we start to get ready for the weekend. It’s been a busy week, but cocktails and sports await us in what should be a nice next few days. Before we dive right into today’s links, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Cesar Baena, Orlando City’s goalkeeper coach!

Orlando Pride Draft Emily Madril and Four More Players

With the third overall pick in the NWSL Draft, the Orlando Pride selected center back Emily Madril. The 23-year-old did not play her final year of eligibility with Florida State. Instead, she signed a contract with the NWSL and played on loan in Sweden. She should certainly help shore up a Pride defense that allowed 45 goals in 22 games last season.

In the second round, the Pride drafted TCU forward Messiah Bright with the 21st overall pick. Bright scored 49 goals in 102 collegiate games for the Horned Frogs, including 10 goals last season. She was also called up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team last summer and will hopefully give the Pride a needed scoring threat. The Pride decided to take another center back to start the third round, selecting Tori Hansen out of North Carolina. Hansen was an integral player in North Carolina’s stalwart defense last season, starting all 26 games.

The Pride then did what they do best and acquired $75,000 in allocation money by trading away the 29th and 34th overall picks to the Washington Spirit. From atop their Smaug-like pile of cash, the Pride selected attacking midfielder Summer Yates out of Washington and UCF forward Kristen Scott in the fourth round. Give a warm welcome to the Pride’s 2023 draft class!

Meggie Dougherty Howard Heads to San Diego

Midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard became a free agent following the Pride’s 2022 season and has signed with San Diego Wave FC on a two-year deal. She contributed three goals and three assists in 36 matches across her past two seasons with the Pride. A source confirmed that the Pride made an offer for her to stay in Orlando, but she will instead be joining former Pride players Alex Morgan and Taylor Kornieck in San Diego. Her departure should provide more minutes for Viviana Villacorta, although the Pride might still need to add some depth to their midfield.

Lions Making the Most of the Preseason

Orlando City won the U.S. Open Cup last year, but the team is not resting on its laurels as it prepares for the upcoming season. Head Coach Oscar Pareja spoke on how the team is hungry for more silverware and using this preseason to set the tone of the season early. Opportunity certainly knocks for the Lions this year, with their first taste of Concacaf Champions League action coming in March. Orlando brought in multiple players to help the team reach the next level. Designated Player Martin Ojeda, left back Luca Petrasso, and veteran midfielder Felipe Martin have all been training with the team this week. It will take some time for the new Lions to jell with their teammates, but Ojeda spoke on how there are a few familiar faces that should ease the process.

“Rodrigo (Schlegel) and I were together at Racing (Club) during our time down there and we started a few games together. I know Wilder (Cartagena) from the little time that I’ve gotten to spend with him as a teammate, and I know that we’ve got some other teammates and countrymen of mine that I’ve still got to meet. So, it’ll make the adaption a lot easier, and I’m excited to get started.”

Alyssa Thompson Taken First Overall in NWSL Draft

Angel City FC predictably selected Alyssa Thompson with the first overall pick in the draft, making her the youngest player drafted in NWSL history. The 18-year-old has reportedly signed a three-year deal with Angel City that is fully guaranteed.

After trading with the Pride for the second overall pick earlier this month, NJ/NY Gotham FC then traded it away to the Kansas City Current in exchange for forward Lynn Williams. The Current then selected MAC Hermann Award winner Michelle Cooper with that second pick. Before the draft got started, Gotham traded with Racing Louisville FC for the fourth pick and chose Florida State’s Jenna Nighswonger. The Portland Thorns rounded out the top five by drafting Alabama defender Reyna Reyes. The North Carolina Courage traded Diana Ordonez and the 30th overall pick to the Houston Dash in exchange for two first-round picks and more. As a result, the Courage had a whopping four picks in the back half of the first round, selecting Olivia Wingate, Sydney Collins, Clara Robbins, and Haley Hopkins. You can check out how the entire draft shook out.

Free Kicks
  • Former Orlando Pride player Emily Sonnett was traded from the Washington Spirit to OL Reign for a first-round pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft and the 32nd overall pick in the 2023 draft.
  • Former Orlando City B player Ates Diouf was signed by Lexington SC after helping San Antonio FC claim a USL Championship title last year.
  • Right back Jonathan Dean, who was selected by Orlando in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft, was signed by the Chicago Fire. Dean has spent the past three years with the Birmingham Legion in the USL Championship.
  • Serie A’s Udinese is reportedly interested in FC Cincinnati forward Brenner and has made an offer for the Brazilian.
  • Toronto FC signed Norwegian forward Adama Diomande on a two-year contract. Diomande reunited with Toronto Head Coach Bob Bradley after stints together in Norway and LAFC.
  • Sporting Kansas City added German left back Tim Leibold, signing the 23-year-old to a three-year contract.
  • NWSL games may look a bit better this season due to the increase in cameras for VAR.
  • In his first match in the English Premier League, Chelsea’s Joao Felix was shown a straight red card for a studs-up challenge in the 58th minute. Americans Tim Ream and Antonee Robinson both started as Fulham beat Chelsea 2-1.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!