After losing veteran starting goalkeeper Erin McLeod just days before the team opened its 2023 preseason camp, the Orlando Pride have added former Kansas City netminder Carly Nelson to the roster. The 24-year-old has signed a two-year contract that will keep her in purple through the 2024 NWSL season. The Pride announced the move this afternoon.
Nelson has spent two seasons on loan with Danish top-tier side FC Nordsjælland.
“We are excited to add Carly to our group for the coming season,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said in a club press release. “She’s a very talented goalkeeper with a few years of professional experience already under her belt, who will add even more competition amongst a very talented goalkeeper group. We’re happy to welcome her here to Orlando and look forward to having her as a member of the Pride.”
Nelson, a native of Lindon, UT, has made 32 appearances for FC Nordsjælland in all competitions since joining in 2021, recording nine shutouts. She had previously made her NWSL debut with Kansas City in 2021, shutting out North Carolina in a 0-0 draw. The former University of Utah goalkeeper signed with the club now known as OL Reign in 2020 but did not play for the team.
While playing collegiately for the Utes, Nelson made 62 appearances, recording 23 clean sheets and 273 career saves. She was named to the All-Pac-12 Team after her senior season in 2019, leading the conference in shutouts (10), saves (105) and minutes played (1985).
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride are back to having three goalkeepers on the roster, with Nelson joining Anna Moorhouse and Kaylie Collins. Nelson’s signing is interesting. While the club didn’t bring in someone who would thought to be a clear-cut No. 1, it’s entirely possible a strong camp could see her pass Moorhouse and Collins and claim the position.
Most teams always say that every starting position is an open competition, that is often not the case. Anyone signing Alyssa Naeher or Adriana Franch, would almost certainly be signing a new starter. In Orlando this spring, this could be a tight, three-way battle.
Moorhouse did not exactly impress in 2022, allowing 13 goals in five appearances across all competitions. That wasn’t all her fault, but she did admit to losing her bearings on a goal Portland scored on her in a 2-0 loss on Sept. 9 of last year. Playing more regularly, however, might provide her the opportunity to gain some consistency.
Collins appeared only in one match last year, making her professional debut in the team’s final game of the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup on April 23 at NJ/NY Gotham FC in Red Bull Arena. The young stopper played 90 minutes and allowed only one goal — a penalty by Kristy Mewis in first-half stoppage time. She wasn’t tested often, but did everything one could reasonably expect from her in the match.
Nelson joins the club a day ahead of the opening of preseason camp, and now the Pride can let the position battle commence.