Alanna Kennedy is one of the biggest players in Orlando Pride’s all-time history. This season, like so many other players, she did not show her best qualities. While she started in every game except for the four during which she was on international duty to start the season, her production was not there, and she often made mistakes that led to goals.
The Australian played most of the season in the midfield, but towards the end when then-Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni continued to tinker with the formations, Kennedy was deployed as a center back. The Pride brought her over in a trade with the North Carolina Courage prior to the 2017 season. To start the 2018 season, Kennedy was the last player to be re-signed. At that time, Sermanni said this of the 23-year-old:
“After playing such an important role in our success last year, we’re absolutely delighted to bring Alanna back for the upcoming season. Alanna is the type of player who can change a game and whose versatility will, again, be extremely valuable for our squad.”
While what Sermanni said is undoubtedly true, she did not show this quality too much this year, particularly in the latter half of the season. Here is how her 2018 went.
Kennedy started and played the full 90 minutes in every match, save for the first four — when she was out on international duty. This brought her total minutes down from the 2,101 in 2017 to 1,800 this season. Kennedy’s two goals were half the amount of goals as her 2017 total, she bagged a single assist, and recorded 34 shots but only put seven on target. Kennedy was second on the team in touches (1,224) and third in passes (842). She made 34 clearances, conceded 21 fouls, and won 25 of them. Her 71% passing rate was the second lowest among the club’s regular midfielders — to fellow Aussie Emily van Egmond’s 67% — and only higher than Poliana among Pride defenders.
Kennedy’s best game was a disappointing game for the Pride for a few reasons. First, Orlando lost, falling to the North Carolina Courage, 4-3. This game also ended a five-game unbeaten streak, and Orlando tied the game two different times before allowing a game-winner in stoppage time.
However, the 23-year-old had a solid all-around performance and picked up her first goal of the season. She went 72% on 43 passes, had one foul conceded, two suffered, and took two shots, with one hitting the target and beating the keeper. Things were a little rough for her on the attacking side of the ball — that was true for the whole team, as Orlando struggled to move the ball well — but she definitely kept the Pride organized.
It should be no surprise that her goal was off a header from a set piece, as the 5-foot-10 midfielder is almost always the target in the box from dead-ball plays. Christine Nairn put an in-swinger into the box, and Kennedy headed it into the top corner.
— NWSL (@NWSL) May 24, 2018
Final 2018 Grade
The Mane Land staff gave the Australian a rating of 4 for her performances in 2018. She was not the defensive rock that Orlando Pride fans have become accustomed to seeing and instead many times when she got the ball there were moments of tension when you didn’t know if she would turn it over and gift the opposition a goal. One sequence late in the season exemplified her year when she turned the ball over, quickly won it back, then dribbled it around until Sam Kerr took it from her and scored. She played both in the midfield and at center back, but needs to pick her game back up in 2019 and maybe a new coach will be able to rebuild her confidence and return her to her 2017 form. Then she could do more things like this steal and score at midfield from back in June:
— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) June 23, 2018
Barring anything completely unforeseen, Kennedy will be back in purple next year — the Pride picked up her contract option after the season — and starting nearly every game, save for when she is with Australia. As it is a Word Cup year this will occur more than it did in 2018, so she will miss a good chunk of games. She has the caliber to be one of the best players in the league, and fans should expect her to show this talent again in 2019.
Previous Season in Review Posts (Date Posted)
- Rachel Hill (9/23)
- Christine Nairn (9/24)
- Sydney Leroux (9/25)
- Monica (9/26)
- Carson Pickett (9/27)
- Haley Kopmeyer (9/27)
- Kristen Edmonds (9/28)
- Poliana (10/1)
- Ashlyn Harris (10/2)
- Chioma Ubogagu (10/4)
- Toni Pressley (10/4)
- Shelina Zadorsky (10/6)
- Dani Weatherholt (10/09)
- Ali Krieger (10/12)
- Marta (10/13)
- Danica Evans (10/17)
- Camila (10/18)