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Orlando Pride Acquire Christine Nairn, Carson Pickett, and Haley Kopmeyer

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The Orlando Pride made a pair of moves in order to bolster their roster ahead of the upcoming season by completing two trades with the Seattle Reign. The Pride dealt Steph Catley to Seattle in exchange for midfielder Christine Nairn and defender Carson Pickett. The other trade sent Jasmyne Spencer to Seattle in exchange for goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer and Seattle’s natural third-round pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft.

The five-player deals send two original Pride members to Seattle.

Nairn, 27, has over 100 NWSL appearances between Seattle Reign FC and the Washington Spirit. The Penn State product started her NWSL career in Seattle in 2013, scoring three goals and leading the Reign with five assists. She was dealt to the Spirit, where she scored 14 goals over three seasons from 2014-2016.

Nairn was re-acquired by Reign FC in 2017, appearing in all but one match, scoring one goal and assisting on four others. Nairn also spent two off-seasons with Melbourne Victory of Australia’s Westfield W-League. She has two caps with the USWNT and scored one goal in a 1-0 victory over Canada.

“Christine is a player that we’ve had eyes on for a while,” Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni said in a club press release. “What we see in her, technically, is a great footballing quality. She has an exceptional left foot, she’s a great passer, she understands the game really well. She’s been in this league from day one, been a regular starter virtually since she came into the league. She brings that experience and that quality with her.”

Pickett, 24, a Florida State product, made 36 appearances with Reign FC after being selected No. 4 overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. The defender registered her first pro assist in her rookie season. A four-year starter at FSU, Pickett helped lead the Seminoles to the 2014 NCAA Championship on a defense that did not concede a goal in the NCAA tournament.

“Carson gives us good cover at left back and she’s local, which I think always helps,” Sermanni added in the release. “So, she’s going to feel comfortable coming in from the start. Losing Steph, we obviously needed to look at getting cover at left back. [Pickett is] a player that has played high-level college-wise and a player that has played consistently in the league for her two seasons. She started a lot of games for a quality [Seattle] team. I think she’ll fit in well with the system we play and how we play.”

After trading Aubrey Bledsoe earlier this off-season, the Pride had a need to bring in a second goalkeeper and they got a good one in Kopmeyer. The 27-year-old keeper has been with the Reign since 2013, making 46 appearances, with a high of 20 during the 2017 NWSL campaign. The University of Michigan product has kept 11 clean sheets and made 185 saves in her five-year career. Kopmeyer previously had loan stints with Brisbane and Apollon Limassol in Cyprus.

“Haley is an experienced goalkeeper in this league, she’s been a starter in this league and now we’ve added a very strong goalkeeper to be here with Ashlyn [Harris],” Sermanni added in the club press release.

Both Pickett and Kopmeyer are playing in the W-League. Pickett is with top-seeded Brisbane Roar, while Kopmeyer is a teammate of Pride defender Toni Pressley at Canberra United.

Will all theses additions, the players sent in the other direction will displease some folks. Catley’s move was facilitated over concerns for her international travel schedule.

“Steph has played a huge part in shaping our club but knowing that, due to upcoming national team commitments, her desire was to be on the West Coast, we thought this was a good deal for all parties,” Sermanni said. “We thank Steph for everything over the last two years and wish her the best of luck in Seattle.”

Catley played two seasons with the Pride, bagging one goal and three assists, with her lone score being the first in Pride team history.

Spencer totaled seven goals and three assists during that span and earned Week 10 Goal of the Week in 2016 for her 92nd-minute game-winner against the Houston Dash.

“Jas has been magnificent for us. She turned up every day with a huge smile on her face, happy and brought a ton of energy to the training environment and we’ll miss that,” Sermanni said. “But for someone of her experience and ambition, we think this is a good deal for her, a good deal for us and a good opportunity for her to probably be guaranteed more starts in the league.”

Sermanni noted in the club’s press release that the 2016 Pride’s difficulties with international breaks served as a warning sign that more domestic depth was needed.

“We put a significant emphasis last year on international players and the downside of that, particularly when there’s a World Cup year coming up soon, is that you’re going to lose those international players from time to time,” he said. “So it’s really important to have depth and quality with your domestic players and I think these three players bring us that.”

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

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