The Orlando Pride announced the signing of forward Messiah Bright this afternoon to a three-year deal, lasting through 2025. Bright was selected by the Pride with the ninth pick of the second round (21st overall) from TCU in the 2023 NWSL Draft.
“Messiah has the potential to be one of the most dangerous attackers in the NWSL, something the club knew when we drafted her this year,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a press release. “She has had a great preseason, showcasing the skills she possesses and becoming a great fit for the culture we are building in our locker room. We know she still has so much untapped potential and we are excited that Orlando will be where she develops and grows as an athlete and person. We’re really looking forward to the important role she is going to play in achieving our goals, this year and in the future.”
Bright has played extensively during the preseason, starting up top for the Pride. While she hasn’t scored in her three appearances, she assisted Julie Doyle in the opening goal of the team’s 2-0 win over the Kansas City Current on Feb. 23 in an open scrimmage.
“I am beyond excited to be able to stay in purple and call Orlando home for the next few years. It’s always been a dream of mine to play professional soccer, and I finally get to do that with such an amazing team,” Bright said in the press release. “The experience thus far is something I have been truly grateful for. The team as well as the coaching staff have welcomed me with open arms, and they drive me to be the best person I can be on and off the pitch. I can’t wait to see my development and give it my all for the club and our fans.”
The Dallas, TX native joined the Pride as their second selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, a pick acquired by trading Jodie Taylor to the San Diego Wave on Dec. 1, 2021. The 5-foot-9 attacker played in 102 collegiate games with TCU (all starts), scoring 49 goals and recording 17 assists in 6,635 minutes. Her 17 goals in 2021 set a school record for TCU and was tied for fourth nationally.
Bright was named 2021 United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and the 2021 Big 12 Tournament Most Valuable Player. Prior to that, she was named the 2019 Big 12 Championship Offensive MVP, a 2019 United Soccer Coaches Second Team All-Midwest Region selection, and a 2019 First Team All-Big 12 player.
Internationally, Bright represented the United States Women’s National Team at the U-23 level in 2022 and was invited to training camps for the U-18 USWNT in Florida and Switzerland in 2018.
What It Means for Orlando
The signing of Bright isn’t a surprise as the forward has been impressive this preseason. She tormented the Current in the only open preseason game, causing trouble with her speed and size. After the game, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines raved about the rookie.
“With Messiah, she brings pace and power. She’s a threat in multiple aspects of the game,” Hines said. “She’s got her back to goal, which can link players underneath, but also that fear factor of threatening in behind. Speed is a really good attribute to have. Being an ex defender, it’s not always nice to defend against either. So, you know, with the likes of Messiah and Ally Watt, who also is lightning quick, we’ve got more of a threat in behind.”
Bright offers something the Pride are missing with their other attacking options. Her size and power allow her to go up against any defender in the NWSL, while her speed allows her to keep up with Doyle and Watt on counter attacks.
This signing also creates more flexibility in how the team can use Adriana. The Brazilian signed this off-season and will be a key part of the starting lineup. As shown in her time with her national team during this year’s SheBelieves Cup, Adriana can be effective in the midfield or up top. The signing of Bright allows Hines to play her in the midfield with the assurance that there’s quality at the forward position.
The Pride have now signed two of their five draft picks from the 2023 class. Defender Emily Madril signed with the league prior to the NWSL Draft, leaving Tori Hansen, Summer Yates, and Kristen Scott as the Pride’s remaining unsigned draft picks.