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Report: Orlando Pride Trading Emily Sonnett to Washington Spirit

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According to a report by the Washington City Paper’s Kelyn Soong, the Orlando Pride are in the process of trading USWNT defender Emily Sonnett to the Washington Spirit for the No. 9 pick in January’s 2021 NWSL Draft, the Spirit’s 2023 first-round pick, midfielder Meggie Dougherty Howard, and allocation money. Soong’s story cites an unnamed source with knowledge of the trade. Neither the Pride, nor the Spirit, have officially announced the trade as of this writing.

Sonnett, who was acquired from the Portland Thorns on Jan. 8 in exchange for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft (Sophia Smith), hasn’t played a game for the Pride due to the pandemic (although she has trained with Orlando) and the exodus of top NWSL players to Europe to get games in 2020. Acquiring Sonnett in January appeared to be part of the Pride’s rebuild after an awful 2019 campaign. Per the club’s press release:

“Acquiring not only one, but two players with the domestic and international resumes of Emily and Caitlin, plus additional draft picks for 2020, puts the club in a strong position to continue building for both short and long-term success,” Orlando Pride GM Erik Ustruck said in a club press release. “Emily and Caitlin are two players we have targeted for a while and we are incredibly happy to come to terms on this deal.”

Orlando also received the rights to Caitlin Foord — which were subsequently snatched by Racing Louisville in the NWSL Expansion Draft — and the Nos. 7 and 14 picks in 2020. The Pride selected Courtney Petersen and Phoebe McClernon, respectively, with those picks. Neither has played for the Pride yet and McClernon is unsigned as of this writing, although her NWSL rights are retained by Orlando, so that could change.

Sonnett went to play in Sweden on a short-term deal after the Pride pulled out of the NWSL Challenge Cup, appearing in 10 matches (eight starts) and helping Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC win a league championship. Prior to her acquisition, Sonnett played four seasons with the Thorns, scoring eight goals in 78 appearances (regular season plus playoffs). She scored a goal in the 2017 NWSL semifinal match-up against the Pride at Providence Park. She has won the NWSL Shield and the 2017 NWSL championship with Portland.

She was, ironically, selected by Portland with Orlando’s first ever draft spot in 2016. The Thorns picked the former Virginia Cavalier No. 1 in the 2016 NWSL College Draft using a draft pick that the Pride traded to Portland in exchange for Alex Morgan and Kaylyn Kyle. Orlando also sent an international slot to Portland for 2016 and 2017 in that trade.

With Virginia, Sonnett was named the 2015 espnW Soccer Player of the Year, 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, NSCAA First Team All-American, 2014 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player, First Team All-ACC, and was a finalist for the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy.

The 5-foot-7 native of Marietta, GA, has 46 caps with the United States Women’s National Team. She was on the 2019 side that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. 

Howard, 25, is a native of Largo, FL, over in the Tampa Bay area. She attended St. Petersburg Catholic High School and played college soccer at the University of Florida. Howard appeared in 94 matches from 2013 to 2016 and scored 14 goals for the Gators as a defensive midfielder, earning 2016 All American, 2016 All-SEC First Team, and 2016 All-SEC Tournament MVP honors. While in college, she won a title playing with the Washington Spirit Reserves in the W-League and made that league’s all-star team in 2015.

Washington selected Howard with the 29th overall pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft. She made her Spirit debut against the Pride, coincidentally, coming on as a sub on April 22, 2017 in a 1-1 draw. That was the Pride’s first match at what is now known as Exploria Stadium. Howard has scored one career NWSL goal and registered one assist in 68 appearances with Washington, playing 5,436 minutes since entering the league.

What it Means for Orlando

Sonnett, 27, was going to be part of the solution for a back line that made a lot of mistakes in 2019 and leaked a lot of goals. She’s versatile and can play both central defense or fullback. The Pride have struggled to find solid starting fullbacks in the past and presumed starting center backs Ali Krieger and Shelina Zadorsky are 36 and 28 years old, respectively. So Sonnett’s presence would certainly help the Pride if this trade doesn’t come to pass.

If the trade happens as reported, the Pride will get back into the first round in the 2021 NWSL Draft after trading their natural first selection in January to move up and select Taylor Kornieck at No. 3 overall. Orlando would also have a second first-round pick in 2023, which is never a bad asset to have. The unknown is the amount of allocation money that Orlando would reportedly receive, which could be used to great effect.

Orlando will also benefit from having a player who can be a true No. 6 in Howard, who will be coming home to Florida. Jason Anderson, who covers the Spirit for Black and Red United, said this of her:

“MDH is a really solid DM. she can play the 6 or the 8. Good long-range passer, good vision, really tough tackler. Led the team in key passes her rookie year playing as an 8. Probably should have been Rookie of the Year but lost out to (Ashley) Hatch due to Hatch getting to score goals for North Carolina. for the Spirit her problem was going to be that with (Andi) Sullivan around, she can’t play her best spot as a 6, and they’ve got (Bayley) Feist and (Dorian) Bailey looking for time, and most likely (Tori) Huster too if they change formations like I think they’re going to. She’s a good kid, very interested in helping out the Spirit’s off-field causes, and also on her own (she made like 60 masks for a local children’s hospital during the early lockdown days).”

As for the rest of this reported trade, the true ramifications won’t be known for some time and are complicated because this ultimately involves Smith’s NWSL career and potentially the future of Foord, should she return to the NWSL — because that’s what Orlando gave up to get Sonnett to begin with. The future draft picks are also important to how this trade is ultimately viewed, as is the way the Pride use any allocation money that comes to Orlando in the deal.

With so many moving pieces, it will ultimately be difficult to look back and get a clear view of how to evaluate this trade from the Pride’s perspective. It hurts to lose a valuable player like Sonnett. But the Pride have a long way to go to become contenders again and this trade, if it goes down as reported, could help with that in the future.

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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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Five Questions About the Orlando Pride in 2024

What are the top five questions for the Orlando Pride heading into the 2024 NWSL season?

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride have begun their preseason training for the 2024 NWSL season and will play their first preseason scrimmage on Thursday afternoon. The team nearly made the playoffs last year for the first time since 2017, narrowly missing out on the final day of the season. The team’s been busy this off-season, looking to improve the squad. However, there are still some questions to be answered before the competitive games start.

Here are five burning questions about the Pride for 2024.

Who Will Start in Goal?

The Pride signed English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse from French side Bordeaux on Jan. 31, 2022 to back up Erin McLeod. When the Canadian left after the 2022 season, Moorhouse was elevated to starter. She played well at times last year, but was inconsistent. However, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines showed confidence in the 28-year-old, starting her in 19 of the team’s 22 regular-season games.

In December, the Pride traded backup Carly Nelson to the Utah Royals for Allocation Money. The move came 11 days after they signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner, indicating the club was planning for the departure. While Moorhouse will undoubtedly start the season as the team’s number one, Manner could claim the position if Moorhouse’s inconsistency returns. It will be something to keep an eye on this year.

Who Will Start in the Defensive Midfield?

The Pride focused on the team’s back line last year, but much of the effort this off-season has been on the defensive midfield. The team traded for Haley McCutcheon on Aug. 18, 2022 and it appeared as though she would start in the position. However, Hines moved her to right back last year, where she’s become the regular starter. It then looked like recent draft picks Viviana Villacorta and Mikayla Cluff would be the duo, but Cluff was traded to Utah on Nov. 15 for Expansion Draft protection and Villacorta tore her ACL late last year.

The club focused on the position this off-season, bringing in Brazilian internationals Angelina and Luana, along with USWNT player Morgan Gautrat. All three will battle to start in the defensive midfield, especially since Villacorta is injured and fellow defensive midfielders Cluff and Jordyn Listro are gone. But it’s still unknown who will start in those positions. It’s a question that will likely be answered in the coming weeks as the Pride build for the start of the regular season in March.

Where is Ally Watt Best Suited?

After tearing down the roster in a full rebuild, the Pride made two significant acquisitions in August 2022. In addition to trading for McCutcheon, the Pride dealt Allocation Money to OL Reign (now Seattle Reign FC) for forward Ally Watt. The speedy attacker quickly became the second option up top for the Pride, typically playing behind rookie Messiah Bright last year and starting the odd game. However, that’s not the only position she played.

Hines has shown he values versatility and illustrated that with Watt last year. In addition to playing up top, Watt was deployed on the right side of the midfield. Her speed and ability with the ball was an asset in the position, and she was praised by teammates in the role. They love having her on the right and Julie Doyle on the left, the two fastest players on the team. The questions now become: which position is she best at, and where does she best fit in with this team?

Who will Replace Messiah Bright?

Possibly the biggest question for the 2024 season is who will replace the starting striker. The Pride drafted Bright with the 21st overall pick of the 2022 NWSL Draft out of TCU, and she quickly became the focal point of the attack. Her six regular-season goals last year tied Adriana for the team lead. However, the forward requested a trade this off-season, citing personal reasons, and was shipped off to Angel City FC.

The club did sign Simone Charley, most recently with Angel City, who could replace Bright. However, she’s coming off a season-ending injury and wasn’t as effective in Los Angeles as she was in Portland. Other options include Canadian international Amanda Allen or Argentina international Mariana Larroquette. Watt might be the most likely to start the season up top as it stands, with Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter recently telling our SkoPurp Soccer podcast that 2024 will be “the season of Ally.” But it remains to be seen who will be the Pride’s new number nine.

Will We Discover the Pride’s New Number 10?

Marta has been the Pride’s number 10 since she arrived in 2017 and the team’s most prolific player. She leads the team all-time in appearances (102), starts (95), minutes (8,456), goals (31), and assists (18) in all competitions. However, she’s on the final year of a two-year deal that’s widely expected to be the last for the soon-to-be-38-year-old midfielder. If she does depart the club following the 2024 season, they Pride will need to find her replacement.

The club could go outside and find her replacement for 2025, but there are options in the current squad. The most talented player on the team currently is Brazilian international Adriana, who has typically played on the right side of the midfield, causing problems for defenses. She’s also switched with Marta at times, moving central, and has played there at the international level. The club also has Summer Yates, the former Washington Husky drafted in 2023. Yates slipped to the fourth round, where the Pride grabbed her, and Carter recently said she’s seen significant development in the second-year player.

While the primary focus is on this season, Hines could show his hand with who plays the most minutes behind Marta in the attacking midfield. While a final decision will probably be left to the 2025 preseason, we can get an idea of who might be in line for arguably the most significant role on the team during the 2024 campaign.


The Pride enter the 2024 season with more expectations than the last two years. They narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2023 and will be looking to improve this season. While most of the team is intact, there are some questions to be answered during preseason and the coming regular season. It will tell us a lot about the team’s 2024 season and the coming years.

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