Orlando Pride Acquire Defender Megan Montefusco from the Houston Dash

Photo by Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The Orlando Pride have sent midfielder Marisa Viggiano to the Houston Dash in return for defender Megan Montefusco (née Oyster), $30,000 in Allocation Money, and OL Reign’s natural third-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft. The Dash had acquired the Reign’s draft pick in a previous trade.

“Megan is a proven talent in this league and we are very happy to add a player of her quality to our back line,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “The stability that she brings, along with her natural affinity to be a modern ball-playing center back, are not coincidental to the past successes of the teams she’s played for. As we continue to build a new Pride that can consistently challenge for honors in our league, we expect that Megan will be an important part of that path forward.”

Montefusco joins the Pride from the Dash, where she spent the last two seasons. The 29-year-old center back was drafted with the 13th overall pick of the 2015 NWSL Draft by the Washington Spirit. She spent a year with the Boston Breakers and two years with the Reign before landing in Houston.

The seven-year NWSL veteran has made 133 appearances, recording two goals and four assists. In Houston, she made 32 appearances in two years, picking up one assist. She was a part of a defensive unit that recorded seven shutouts and claimed the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup.

Dating back to the 2016 season, when NWSL stats began being tracked, Montefusco has recorded 400 clearances (156 headed), 202 interceptions, and has been successful in 75.2% of her tackles.

The addition is another player who spent time at UCLA under new Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell. She joins Darian Jenkins and Viviana Villacorta as Pride players that played under Cromwell during their time with the Bruins.

The move also sees an end to the Pride career of Viggiano. The 24-year-old midfielder was selected by the Pride in the fourth round of the 2015 NWSL Draft. In three years, the Northwestern alum made 48 appearances (40 NWSL regular season) with 36 starts (28 NWSL regular season). She scored four goals in 3,167 minutes while in Orlando.

“We’d also like to thank Marisa for being such an incredible part of our club and community for the last three seasons,” Fleming said in the release. “Beyond Marisa’s unquestioned ability on the pitch, she is, more importantly, simply a wonderful person and I’m honored to have worked with her over the past year. I want to wish her a tremendous amount of luck and success in Houston, and I look forward to crossing paths many times in the future.”

What This Means for Orlando

The Pride acquired a much-needed center back with this trade. During the team’s complete rebuild, they sent Ali Krieger to NJ/NY Gotham FC and Phoebe McClernon to OL Reign. Montefusco will likely partner Amy Turner in the central defense of the Pride’s back four this season.

In addition to a new starter, the club receives $30,000 in Allocation Money that can be spent to buy down high-priced contracts or include in a trade. They also receive another 2023 NWSL Draft pick, which will be useful as the team continues to build a young squad for the future. Orlando picked up third-round picks in 2023 on consecutive days, after landing on in the deal that sent Ali Riley’s rights to Angel City. The Pride have also picked up a total of $45,000 in Allocation Money in the last two days.

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