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Orlando Pride Acquire Sydney Leroux from Utah Royals

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Sydney Leroux to the Orlando Pride has been a rumored move ever since Orlando City signed her spouse, Dom Dwyer. Now it’s a reality.

The 27-year-old USWNT striker will join Alex Morgan, Marta, and the rest of the lethal Pride attack in 2018 after the club secured her rights in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 2019. News of the trade was first reported by ProSoccerUSA.com. The Pride got the pick from Seattle Reign FC on Tuesday in exchange for two selections in the Boston Breakers dispersal draft and flipped it today to add Leroux.

That trade, which raised a few eyebrows, was necessary, given that Orlando had already traded its first-round 2019 pick to Washington in the Shelina Zadorsky deal.

“I’m very excited. I mean, I woke up this morning and I’m ready to go,” Leroux said in an exclusive interview with ProSoccerUSA. “I’m ready for season to start. But most importantly for me, our family is together now. … The fact that Cassius can watch both his mom and his dad play in the same city at the same stadium is really a cool thing and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

“We’re very happy we were able to bring Sydney to Orlando,” General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “She’s a dynamic striker that will bring pace and goal-scoring ability to our group. Her physicality and personality will complement our roster and club and look forward to having her with us.”

Leroux brings a more physical type of forward to Tom Sermanni’s front line — something the Pride need more of against some of the NWSL’s more imposing back lines, that at times pushed Morgan and Marta off the ball (sometimes literally) last season.

“I’m delighted to bring a player of Sydney’s caliber and pedigree to the Pride,” Sermanni said in the club’s release. “Sydney has a great work ethic, strong footballing skills and a wonderful personality that I know will fit in well with the team culture here in Orlando. We’re excited to add her to our already potent offensive force.”

Leroux played with former NWSL side FC Kansas City in 2016 and 2017 and, as with all FCKC players, her rights were transferred to Utah when the new franchise joined the league. She led FCKC in goals in 2017, scoring six times and adding two assists in her 23 matches. It was her first season after returning from giving birth to son Cassius, as the pregnancy kept her out of the 2016 season.

Prior to suiting up for FC Kansas City, Leroux played three games for the Western New York Flash in 2015, scoring once, before going out on international duty, where she helped the USWNT win the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Leroux was a member of Seattle Reign FC in 2014, appearing in all 22 league matches and scoring five goals as part of a Shield-winning side. Previously, Leroux played with the Boston Breakers in the NWSL’s inaugural season, scoring a league best 11 goals.

As a dual national, the Surrey, British Columbia, started playing internationally at the youth level with Canada at the U-19 level before transferring to the United States. She appeared in 39 games with the U-20 USWNT, scoring 24 goals.

Leroux made her U.S. senior team debut in 2011, and has scored 35 international goals in 77 games with the USWNT — tying April Heinrichs for 14th on the U.S. career goal-scoring list. She’s appeared in every major tournament with the USWNT since 2012 except for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

A UCLA product, Leroux received First-Team NSCAA All-America, Soccer America’s MVP First Team and First-Team NSCAA All-Pacific Region honors. She was also a two-time semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy Player of the Year Award (2009, 2011).

What it Means for Orlando

Leroux’s acquisition will impact the Pride in a positive way. She’ll take the spot of the departed Jasmyne Spencer in the attack but brings a new dynamic to the front line. Where the diminutive Spencer and more finesse-oriented strikers like Morgan, Rachel Hill, and Chioma Ubogagu can get knocked off the ball in congested areas, Leroux can fight off defenders, maintain her balance and still get her shot away. While not as clinical in finishing as Morgan or Marta, Leroux can score goals in bunches when in top form. Her presence alone should help create space for Morgan and Marta in the dangerous attacking areas.

Physical defenses like those in Chicago, Portland, and North Carolina presented problems for which the Pride didn’t have a solution in 2017. Leroux will be part of that solution in 2018.

Scouting Report

We’ll let Dom present this.

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 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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