The Orlando Pride had a fantastic run in their second year. Creating team depth and consistency for any expansion team is a hard thing to do, but the Pride were also without their best scorer, Alex Morgan, over the first half their second season.
Finishing in third place, with a record of 11-6-7 — and a run of nine unbeaten matches to finish the regular season — the Pride captured something Orlando soccer hasn't seen since gaining major professional soccer: the playoffs. While they fell short to the eventual NWSL Champion Portland Thorns, we couldn't be more proud as fans of a team that fought hard all season.
So, with that being said, we wanted to look back and give shout-outs to individual and team efforts alike that stood out from the pack on this great season.
MVP — Marta
This was the easiest decision to make as the five-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, led the Pride in her first season into the playoffs. Had Morgan been with the team for the whole year, this may have been a tougher conversation, but Marta’s effectiveness all season was what put the Pride over the top.
The NWSL Player of the Month for September was second across the league in both goals (13) and assists (tied at six), but it was her efficiency that stands out. She was ninth on the list of total shots (44) and only had only 25 shots on goal, giving her a scoring rate of over 50% when she put shots on target.
There are many matches to choose from, but I would put Marta’s two-goal, two-assist effort on the road against the Houston Dash as her best game of the year. At 2-3-3, the Pride were just finding their rhythm in winning two of their last four, and going to Houston to face Carli Lloyd and co. is never an easy job. Marta had a hand in all four goals that day as the Pride led by as much as 4-0 at one point. This was a match that clearly showed her ability to take over any game single-handedly, and one that was needed as the Pride were looking to get back to .500.
Goal of the Year
There were no lack of goals to choose from as the Pride led the league in goals scored. When I was looking for clips, I swear it seemed like every single week a Pride player was up for the NWSL’s Goal of the Week and there were plenty of winners to choose from.
Some would argue Alanna Kennedy’s free kick to send Orlando into third place with a stoppage-time victory against NC Courage in the final match of the season should be there. And we wouldn't disagree. However, we found two other we liked just slightly better…
Runner Up — Camila against the Washington Spirit
This goal takes a lot of skill. On the run, approaching a bouncing ball that was cleared by the goalkeeper, only to lob it 35-40 yards into an open net. But alas, that’s my determining factor here. While it took a great amount of skill, it was hitting into an open net and the goal was to put us up two, not a game-winning goal — as you’ll see below — which leads me to put this No. 2.
Winner — Alex Morgan against the Washington Spirit
This Week 18 winner of the NWSL Goal of the Week was much deserved. Not only was it a game-winning goal, but a slashing Morgan came up with some karate-esque, donkey-like, behind-her-back goal that is not often seen. Combining the importance with the level of difficulty gives Alex the nod.
Internal debate sparked on this as we needed to decide if this was the best “played” match of the season, the most meaningful match, or simply the most dominant result of the season.
Was it the draw against the Chicago Red Stars that saw Orlando start its unbeaten streak?
Or perhaps the first win of the season against the reigning champion North Carolina Courage in Week 5?
And then there’s the third seed-clinching win against the Courage in the final week of the season. This would lend to being it, right? Well, the reason I’m not taking this is because going into this week, the playoffs were a certainty for all teams, so it lacked some nuance that the fight against Seattle Reign the week before had. Which actually may have been more important than this one when you think about it.
Winner — Pride Rout Sky Blue FC, 5-0
This match has it all to me. It’s an overwhelmingly dominant performance from start to finish. It was a statement to the rest of the league that the Pride were ready for the playoff push, as it was their second win on the course to a five-game run. It put Sky Blue FC — then tied on points with Orlando with one more win to their name — firmly behind the Pride for the rest of the season. This match was a big turning point as everyone was firing on all cylinders and one that propelled us beyond.
Rookie of the Year — Rachel Hill
Hill — who was selected 14th by the Portland Thorns in the NWSL College Draft before being traded — didn't even get a normal preseason to her inaugural campaign as she didn't sign until late May after going back to finish school.
As anyone can imagine, it’s not like this team is lacking for attacking talent with two of the world’s greatest players, and Hill stayed patient until needed. Her first goal of the season came in dramatic fashion as she scored an 87th-minute header to give the Pride a 3-2 win over Sky Blue FC.
Hill continued to earn increasing playing time over the year. Most notably in a home match start against the Boston Breakers, which almost saw her score a hat trick in under 30 minutes.
A consistent inclusion late in the year for Tom Sermanni, we’re looking forward to seeing what the future brings for this bright young forward.
Breakout Player — Camila
Camila was everything for the Pride this season, whenever they needed it. Whether it be on the right wing, at central midfielder, or at right back, she was always ready to perform no matter what the situation.
Before going down with a knee injury, she was tied for second in the league in assists and her loss was clearly a massive blow to the team, as was evident by the relentless Portland attack down the right side where Camila often played. Her season ended with 22 starts, garnering four goals and five assists.
We already mentioned her above when discussing Goal of the Year, something she was in the running for after that outstanding long-range goal. And what probably is the biggest travesty is her lack of inclusion on either of the NWSL’s Best XI teams. Camila had one of the best seasons by any Pride player and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.
Defensive MVP — Steph Catley
Nominated for NWSL’s Defender of the Year, the Westfield Matilda continued to prove why she’s one of the best backs in the game. Earning NWSL Best XI Second Team, it proved another successful year.
The fullback led Orlando in total touches (1,667) and crosses (75), while her 27 chances created were the second-highest by any Pride player.
One of her best moments came against the Houston Dash with Aubrey Bledsoe caught out, when she made a goal-line saving clearance that earned her NWSL’s Save of the Week Honors.
Assist of The Year — Steph Catley against Washington Spirit
As if we haven't talked about Catley enough, her 55-plus-yard laser to an eventual Alex Morgan volley was something of beauty. Fast forward to the 0:47 mark to watch the amazing combination of Catley and Morgan.
Save of the Year
Last but not least my favorite category. As a goalkeeper, there’s nothing I love more than watching great play in net, and both of the Pride keepers rank among the top. In researching this award, it appeared Ashlyn Harris or Aubrey Bledsoe were in nearly every NWSL Save the Week nomination, or it at least felt like it.
Runner-Up: Ashlyn Harris against NC Courage
If we had enough time, Ashlyn could have filled an entire article with saves week in and week out. This save, however, was her best in that long line of outstanding reaction saves. With a Courage team all over the Pride, Ashlyn made an unbelievable save to her left when a wide-open player 10 yards out from goal had the whole net at her disposal. But Ashlyn stayed set on the incoming cross and made a wonderful diving save:
Winner: Aubrey Bledsoe full stretch against Carli Lloyd
This may be a shocker to you — an upset, if you will — but this Week 9 NWSL Save of the Week winner was everything and more. If Ashlyn’s save above is a 9, Aubrey’s is a 9.5. She may have had a better angle against the shot, but a Carli Lloyd half-volley outside the six is nowhere close to an easy shot.
What makes the difference to me is what actually happens directly after the shot. A strong left hand by Bledsoe leads to two passes and a goal only 16 seconds later. If that hand is weak and it spills into the penalty area, that’s a possible goal. But instead it’s properly pushed out and starts a counter attack. That full gambit of reaction time, technique, and finesse is what pushes this save over Ashlyn’s above.
Congratulations again to all the Pride players and staff on a successful year two. And if you don't agree with me on any of the awards, then let me hear it!
Orlando Pride Sign Defender Emily Madril to New Contract
The center back signs a new three-year deal, keeping her in Orlando through 2026.
The Orlando Pride announced today that the club has signed starting center back Emily Madril to a new three-year contract. The defender originally signed a three-year deal with the NWSL, running through the 2025 season, but this new contract will keep her in Orlando through 2026.
“I had a great rookie year here and had so much fun and love everyone in the Orlando Pride organization,” Madril said in a club press release. “The chemistry that we have in the locker room between all the girls and the entire coaching staff is just amazing and played a big factor in me wanting to stay here in Orlando. I am so excited to be a part of the Pride for the future and continue to be a part of the special thing we are building here.”
After leaving Florida State University following her junior season, Madril signed a three-year contract with the NWSL and went on loan to Swedish Damallsvenskan side BK Hacken. The Pride drafted the defender with the third overall selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft, immediately putting her into the starting lineup.
Madril initially started alongside Caitlin Cosme at center back, before being joined by Megan Montefusco and, eventually, Rafaelle. She showed her versatility on two occasions, starting at right back.
The Boise, ID native started all 22 regular-season games for the Pride, recording a rookie-leading 1,977 minutes, and she only came off late in the season finale against the Houston Dash when the Pride needed a goal. She completed 814 of her 953 passes (85.4%), 46 of her 103 long passes (44.7%), and took one off-target shot. Defensively, she added 19 blocks and 19 interceptions, won 17 of her 28 tackles (60.7%), and was successful on 76 of her 122 duels (62.3%).
Madril also played in five of the team’s six Challenge Cup games, recording 450 minutes. She completed 193 of 224 passes in those games (86.2%) and 13 of 25 long balls (52%). She continued to be a key defensive presence in those midseason cup matches, recording 10 blocks and four interceptions, as well as winning 10 of her 18 tackles (55.6%) and 32 of her 47 duels (68.1%).
“Emily came in and made an immediate impact, just as we expected she would when we drafted her,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in the club’s release. “She was a reliable presence in our back line throughout the entire season and showed her potential to be one of the best defenders in the league. Her maturity and professionalism shined throughout the entire year, and we are very happy to be able to have her with the Pride for the years to come. She is an important part of what we are building here, and she wants to be a part of it, which we are very excited about.”
Madril has also had a presence for the United States at the international level, receiving call-ups for the U-19, U-20, and U-23 U.S. Women’s National Teams.
What It Means for Orlando
Madril was a key piece of the Pride’s team in 2023 and the club hopes she’ll be for a long time to come. She showed early on that she can become one of the best defenders in the NWSL and her time at right back indicated she has the versatility valued by Carter and Pride Head Coach Seb Hines.
The 24-year-old was already signed to a three-year deal through the 2025 season, so this keeps her in Orlando for an additional year. Terms were not disclosed, but it’s likely she got a raise as well. If she continues to improve on how she played this season, the Pride will undoubtedly look to extend her even further into the future. For next year, she’ll likely continue starting alongside Rafaelle, making up a formidable center back pairing the club can count on.
2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Anna Moorhouse
The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s first as the Orlando Pride’s starting goalkeeper.
The 2023 NWSL season was Anna Moorhouse’s second with the Orlando Pride and her first as the team’s starting goalkeeper. She was originally signed prior to the 2022 season, backing up veteran Erin McLeod that year. However, the Canadian international left the team, resulting in Moorhouse taking over the starting role.
Let’s take a look at Moorhouse’s first season starting for the Pride.
Moorhouse started 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games, playing 1,623 minutes. The team’s record in those games was 9-9-1, as she conceded 22 goals, saving 72 of her 94 shots faced (76.6%). She ended the year with seven clean sheets, 19 catches, six punches, and four drops. The Pride’s number one completed 387 of her 573 passes (67.5%) out of the back and 115 of her 292 long balls. The passing accuracy in her own half was 79.1% and 32.4% in the opposing half. She conceded one foul and won two, getting sent off in the third minute of the team’s 1-0 loss to OL Reign on Sept. 3.
The English shot stopper also played in four Challenge Cup games, recording 360 minutes. She conceded 10 goals in the competition with no clean sheets and saved 13 of her 23 shots faced (56.5%). Moorhouse had three catches, one punch, and no drops in the secondary competition. She successfully completed 69 of her 111 passes (62.2%) and 29 of her 68 long passes (42.6%). Similar to the regular season, her pass completion percentage was far higher in her own half (76.4%) than in the opposing half (35.9%). Additionally, she won a foul and didn’t concede any.
Moorhouse’s most active game was the season opener against the Portland Thorns, where she faced 27 shots and made 12 saves. However she conceded four goals and one was her fault. Her best game of the year came on Oct. 2 in Los Angeles and it was a critical one. Adriana scored in the 22nd minute against Angel City FC to give the Pride a 1-0 lead and the visitors held on for dear life to claim three points that put them in the running for a playoff spot.
One of Moorhouse’s seven clean sheets, the goalkeeper made seven saves on the night, her second-most of the season. Most of Angel City’s shots were right at the goalkeeper, but she was sure-handed, something that plagued her earlier in the year. In the 57th minute, Claire Emslie beat Haley McCutcheon to the ball inside the six-yard box, but Moorhouse was decisive in coming out, forcing the forward to send her shot into the side netting. Her biggest moment of the game came in the 86th minute, when substitute Sydney Leroux got her head on the ball and put it on target. Moorhouse tipped the attempt over the crossbar, maintaining the Pride’s narrow 1-0 lead.
2023 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff gave Moorhouse a composite grade of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 NWSL season. Shot stopping was her strength, but she struggled at other aspects, especially holding onto the ball. On multiple occasions this season, her inability to hold onto a catch resulted in second chances and goals for the opposition. She struggled in the team’s penultimate game against Racing Louisville, effectively ending the Pride’s season, and her third-minute red card against OL Reign was likely a determining factor in a crucial 1-0 loss. However, she had seven clean sheets on the season and was the team’s best goalkeeper.
Moorhouse’s initial contract was a two-year deal, running through the 2023 season. While there were questions about her dependability in goal this season, Seb Hines and Haley Carter were pleased with her performances, awarding her with a new contract on Oct. 5, keeping the goalkeeper in purple through at least the 2025 season. The Pride now have four goalkeepers under contract for next year, and Moorhouse will be challenged for her role as the starter by new signing Sofia Manner.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
- Kaylie Collins (10/23/23)
- Amanda Allen (10/24/23)
- Celia (10/25/23)
- Brianna Martinez (10/26/23)
- Thais Reiss (10/29/23)
- Mariana Larroquette (10/30/23)
- Tori Hansen (11/1/23)
- Jordyn Listro (11/2/23)
- Caitlin Cosme (11/5/23)
- Summer Yates (11/6/23)
- Ally Watt (11/9/23)
- Megan Montefusco (11/13/23)
- Carly Nelson (11/14/23)
- Julie Doyle (11/16/23)
- Viviana Villacorta (11/20/23)
- Kerry Abello (11/23/23)
- Rafaelle (11/27/23)
- Erika Tymrak (11/28/23)
- Haley McCutcheon (11/29/23)
- Kylie Strom (11/30/23)
Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner
The Pride have added a fourth goalkeeper and the second one from abroad ahead of the 2024 NWSL season.
The Orlando Pride announced today the signing of goalkeeper Sofia Manner, who was acquired for an undisclosed transfer fee from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. Manner has signed a two-year contract through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026. The signing is a bit curious as it comes less than two months after the Pride extended English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse through the 2025 season, giving Orlando two international goalkeepers and four total netminders under contract.
“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity to join Orlando Pride, a team I have admired since my youth,” Manner said in a club press release. “It has been a lifelong dream of mine to contribute to such a renowned organization in women’s soccer. The prospect of starting this journey fills me with great enthusiasm, and I am eagerly looking forward to bringing my passion and dedication to the team. I’m ready to put in hard work and help write a new chapter for the Orlando Pride.”
Manner, who turned 26 on Nov. 9, conceded the fewest goals in the Kansallinen Liiga this season and is a nominee for the league’s Best Player and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. She appeared in 23 matches and earned 10 clean sheets across all competitions, was twice named the league’s Goalkeeper of the Month this season, and was Player of the Month in April.
“Sofia is a tremendous addition to our goalkeeping corps and one we expect to challenge for the starting position,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said. “She brings an underdog mentality and gritty work ethic and fits every aspect of the profile we have built for our goalkeepers. Her size, aerial ability, shot-stopping prowess, and distribution are world class. She brings international experience and has led the Kansallinen Liiga in nearly every goalkeeping metric. Her nominations for Goalkeeper of the Year and Best Player are indicative of her winning mentality and drive to be the best. We are excited to bring her to Orlando and to give her an opportunity to prove herself in our environment and in the NWSL.”
The shot stopper has experience playing in the United States, having played collegiately with Stony Brook University. She compiled a 1.14 career goals-against average across three seasons, which is fourth-best in Seawolves’ history. Her 20 shutouts ranks third in program history, and she compiled a .796 save percentage, which is ninth best all time.
While at Stony Brook, Manner was named America East Freshman of the Year in 2017, was a first-team all-conference selection in 2019, and was the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019. She started in every match in her final two seasons at Stony Brook, backstopping the Seawolves to an America East conference championship in 2019 and a regular-season title in 2018.
What It Means for Orlando
The Pride currently have four goalkeepers under contract: 2023 starter Anna Moorhouse (through 2025), backup Carly Nelson (through 2024), third keeper Kaylie Collins (through 2024), and now Manner (through 2025). Collins is on loan with Western Sydney Wanderers FC of the A-League Women in Australia. Four goalkeepers will provide spirited competition in preseason camp, to be sure, but it’s likely that one of these players will be on the move at some point.
If Manner wins the starting goalkeeper spot from Moorhouse, it may be for reasons other than stopping shots. Moorhouse did a good enough job of that, but often struggled with balls in from the wings, which was illustrated in the Pride’s penultimate game of the year — a must-win match at Racing Louisville — when a routine-looking corner kick cross appeared to be easily catchable, but Moorhouse went for a punch instead and knocked the winning goal for Louisville into her own net. That dropped point in the standings put Orlando in jeopardy on Decision Day and indeed the Pride beat Houston but missed the postseason on goal differential. It was a crucial point dropped.
That wasn’t Moorhouse’s only major error on the season, as she set an NWSL record with the earliest sending off in league history with her third-minute red card at OL Reign on Sept. 3 — a match the Pride lost 1-0 while playing one player short for 87 minutes plus stoppage. She has also frequently spilled crosses and shots from distance.
Orlando needed to upgrade the position. Whether Manner is an upgrade remains to be seen, but as Carter said, she is expected to compete for the starting spot. If nothing else, the competition should be good for the Pride. If Manner does take the starting position, it seems logical that the club will look to move either Moorhouse or Nelson.
The goalkeeper position will provide one of the Pride’s most intriging camp battles.
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