Orlando Pride

Jasmyne Spencer is Opening Eyes with Early Play for Orlando Pride



On a team with players like Alex Morgan and Lianne Sanderson, the Orlando Pride’s best player through two games this season has arguably been lesser-known forward Jasmyne Spencer.

Following an impressive performance in the Pride's season opener against Portland a week ago, Spencer doubled down on her strong run as one of the most dynamic players on the field for Orlando in its 3-1 victory over the Houston Dash in the Citrus Bowl on Saturday night.

Her play was key in two of the three Pride goals on the evening, sending a ball in to Morgan early in the second half that led to the first goal — an own-goal off Houston's Andressa. Not long after, Spencer fed Steph Catley near the end line to help set up Morgan's first goal in Orlando, which made it a 3-0 game at the time.

Listed at 5-foot-1, Spencer can get bullied around by bigger players from time to time, but she has the speed and agility to work her way through defenses and create dangerous plays. Her quickness certainly draws some eyes.

"She is an [Energizer] bunny, I think someone puts a couple of batteries in her rib cage before games," Head Coach Tom Sermanni said after Sunday's match. "She impacts games with her pace, tenacity and energy — she is a nightmare to mark because you just don't know what she is doing. Her feet are so quick that she causes mayhem out there. Now the only thing we need to do is refine that mayhem."

On the left side of the field, she's starting to form a strong bond with Catley, the left back, and it's starting to show up in games.

"It's been a work in progress," Catley said of their relationship. "Obviously we haven't been playing together long, I've always played against her. She's an amazing player to play with — she's so fast, and so smart. She can turn a dribble at any point, and so [she's] open to learn,€” especially defensively. She always listens to advice I'm giving to her. She's a great player, and I think she's going to be amazing for us this season."

Orlando picked up Spencer in the NWSL Expansion Draft over the winter, having spent the last two seasons up north with the Western New York Flash. More often than not, expansion draft picks don't end up making that much of an impact for teams long-term, especially in a league with a much smaller talent pool like the NWSL, but Orlando has found itself a gem in Spencer, whose play fits in perfectly with what Sermanni and company are trying to build here with their quick-tempo play.

"She's a pacey player," said Morgan. "I think she scares defenders; she puts them on their heels."

It's going to be a long season, and as the international dates continue to roll around, players like Spencer are going to become even more vital to this team when it loses its stars like Morgan and Catley.

The Pride is off to a good start this season, with three points through their first two games, and Jasmyne Spencer — remember the name — has been a big help with that.


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