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Orlando Pride Sign Forward Jodie Taylor

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The Orlando Pride have added help in the attack with the signing today of English forward Jodie Taylor. You may recall that the Pride acquired Taylor’s NWSL rights from the North Carolina Courage on Feb. 4 in exchange for defender Carson Pickett. Taylor is signed through the remainder of the 2021 season.

Taylor, 35, joins the Pride from French giants Olympique Lyonnais, where she spent the 2020-21 season. With Lyon, Taylor appeared in six league matches, scoring one goal, and competed in the 2020 UEFA Women’s Champions League final, helping her team to a 3-1 win over German side VfL Wolfsburg.

“Jodie is a proven goal scorer and has carried that across every club and every league she’s played for and in, and the value of her experience and professionalism is immeasurable,” Orlando Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “The day-to-day impact of having a player of her caliber in the squad will be a lift to our entire group as we continue to march toward our objectives for this season. We’re happy to be able to welcome Jodie back to the NWSL following her year in France, and excited that she will be a member of the Pride.”

“Every time I leave the U.S. and the NWSL, there’s certainly aspects of the league that I miss and it always brings me back,” Taylor said. “I’m super excited to be joining the Orlando Pride. Marc Skinner is a coach that I have actually wanted to play for, so that’s exciting. And following how the team has done this season, it’s great to see they started well. Midseason, I think it’s about just coming in and trying to adapt as quick as possible, trying to fit in as quick as possible, jell with the players, jell with the staff. I’m just really looking forward to getting going.”

Before joining Lyon, Taylor played in the NWSL from 2018-2020 with the club currently known as OL Reign. She appeared in 47 matches over that span, scoring 14 goals and adding four assists. The Reign traded her rights to North Carolina after the 2020 season.

Prior to joining the Reign, Taylor spent the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons in England, where she played 12 matches for Arsenal and six for Manchester City. She scored seven goals with the Gunners before netting twice the next season for City.

Taylor’s first NWSL stint began in 2014, when she appeared in 21 matches with the Washington Spirit, scoring 11 goals. She was traded to the Portland Thorns for the 2015 season. As a Thorn, Taylor played in seven matches and scored three times.

Prior to her time in the NWSL, Taylor played professionally in Australia, Sweden, England, and even spent some time in North America in the USL-W League with the Pali Blues, Ottawa Fury Women, and Boston Renegades. She scored 12 goals in 21 games in her two seasons with the Melbourne Victory in 2010-2012. She also won the 2017-2018 Grand Final with Melbourne City.

Internationally, Taylor has been capped 51 times for England and has scored 19 international goals.

The former Oregon State Beaver was named to her school’s hall of fame last year. During her college career from 2004-2007, Taylor scored a school record 47 goals. She is also the school’s all-time leader in points (113). She earned Freshman All-American honors in 2004, was a four-time All-Pac 10 first team honoree, and was named to the All-Region team three times.

What It Means for Orlando

The Pride were in desperate need of a goal scorer with Alex Morgan away for more than a month with the United States Women’s National Team, so the short-term benefit is that Orlando gets an aging but proven goal scorer and one that knows the league well. She didn’t get a lot of time at Lyon, but that team is stacked. Taylor appeared in 40 of a possible 48 league matches in her time with the Reign (leaving in 2020 between the NWSL Challenge Cup and the Fall Series) and while she wasn’t an elite player, she provided a good return with her 14 goals.

Further, this at least presents some value in return for Pickett, who has flourished in North Carolina’s system. Had the club never received Taylor’s services, the Pickett trade would have been quite lopsided, and it may still prove to be. Pickett wasn’t terribly effective in Orlando, but that can be said for most of the team during her time with the Pride, to be fair. Still, Pickett is off to a potential Best XI start to the season with the Courage and Orlando had yet to see any return. It’s important for Taylor to come in and perform well. As I said in February’s trade story:

Ali Riley and Courtney Petersen will be handling left back duties with Pickett out of the picture, but the loss of a good ambassador for the club will be difficult to take if the Pride don’t bring Taylor to Orlando. I’m not reading too much into Fleming not addressing Taylor at all in his press release quote, but I do find it interesting.

Now that Fleming has indeed addressed the subject of Taylor, Marc Skinner may well be able to deploy Taylor at the top of his formation and let Sydney Leroux return to the wing, where she’s been having a terrific season, dropping back to do the gritty work the team needs, while still able to get forward and score goals. A front line of Leroux, Taylor, and Taylor Kornieck has some potential if the midfield can provide service.

With the contract lasting only until the end of the season, the Pride are not on the hook long term for a 35-year-old striker. So, from a business standpoint, this is a deal that makes sense for Fleming and the Pride. And if she performs well, the Pride could very well make her an offer for next season.

Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Haley McCutcheon

The veteran fullback logged a lot of minutes for the Pride in 2023.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Haley McCutcheon was still known as Haley Hanson when she joined the Orlando Pride on Aug. 18, 2022 in a midseason trade with the Houston Dash. The Pride gave up $75,000 in Allocation Money and a second-round draft selection. She joined Orlando for the stretch run, making her debut with the Pride on Aug. 20 in a 2-1 win over Gotham FC. Following the 2022 season, the Nebraska product signed a new contract through 2024 on Oct. 26 of last year.

Let’s look back at McCutcheon’s second year with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

The 27-year-old appeared in every one of the Pride’s 22 regular-season games, starting each of them, and was only subbed out twice all year. She logged 1,955 minutes this season, which was third most on the Pride behind only almost-an-iron-woman Emily Madril (1,977) and Kylie Strom (1,967). In other words, McCutcheon played 98.7% of all possible minutes for Orlando during the NWSL regular season. She scored one goal but did not assist on one, despite providing 15 key passes on the year. The defender attempted 17 shots, five of which were blocked and four were on target. She completed 504 of her 716 pass attempts (70.4%), but just 20.8% of her long passes, and nine of her 40 crosses were successful. In her own end, McCutcheon completed 77.6% of her passes but only 59.8% in the attacking half. Defensively, McCutcheon contributed 10 blocks and 18 interceptions while winning tackles at a 56.9% rate, duels at a 58.3% rate, and aerial duels at a 62.7% clip. Surprisingly, she did not tally a single clearance all season. McCutcheon conceded 18 fouls while winning only eight, and she was not booked.

In NWSL Challenge Cup play, McCutcheon appeared in four of the team’s six matches, starting two, and logging 233 minutes. She did not score or assist on a goal, attempting two shots and getting one on frame. Her passing rate in the competition was just 67.6%, and she was successful on 40% of her long passes while logging three key passes and going 1-for-4 on cross attempts. She completed 70.4% of her pass attempts in the defensive half and 62.7% in the attacking half. On defense, McCutcheon contributed two blocks and two interceptions while winning her tackles at a 75% rate, 77.3% of her duels, and 75% of her aerial duels. She conceded two fouls while winning one and was not booked.

Best Game

McCutcheon’s best match came back on April 29 in the Pride’s 3-1 win over the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium. She tied season highs in shots (2) and shots on target (1), passed at a 90.5% rate, and made three tackles. Those are all good things, but it gets better. In this match, McCutcheon scored her first goal with the Pride and her only goal of the season, and it proved to be the game-winning strike. And what a strike it was! With the ball on the other side of the field, McCutcheon made a smart run on the back side. Midfielder Viviana Villacorta spotted the run and delivered an excellent, long, diagonal ball into the area for her. But McCutcheon still had a lot to do. She put her head on it and powered it over the goalkeeper and inside the far post to give the Pride their first lead of the season.

The Pride added another goal and went on to grab their first win of the 2023 season. That sparked a 3-0-1 run in league play and got Orlando going in a season that came down to Decision Day.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave McCutcheon a composite rating of 6 out of 10 for her 2023 season, which is a slight improvement over her score of 5 last season. She was a good facilitator down the right side of the pitch and could fill in at times in the midfield with her versatility. Where she continued to struggle at times was with her 1-v-1 defending down the Pride’s right side and with her crossing accuracy at times.

2024 Outlook

As mentioned above, McCutcheon is on a deal through the 2024 season and since the Pride are safe from the NWSL Expansion Draft, the only way she wouldn’t be back is via trade or transfer. I expect her back in purple next year as she’s a versatile player who can fill in at multiple spots and she is obviously valued by the club, playing a lot of minutes and even wearing the captain’s armband five times during the 2023 NWSL campaign and twice in the Challenge Cup.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Erika Tymrak

The veteran midfielder completed her third season in Orlando purple.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

Veteran midfielder Erika Tymrak signed a two-year deal with the Pride on Dec. 9, 2022, in order to stay in Orlando through the 2024 season. The Pride originally acquired the rights to Tymrak from Kansas City, along with midfielder Gunny Jónsdóttir, on Jan. 30, 2021. In exchange, the Pride gave up the rights to Kristen Edmonds and a second-round draft pick. Tymrak had retired in January of 2020 but decided to return to her pro career, and the Pride signed her to a contract on Feb. 5, 2021, just days after acquiring her rights. The Pride picked up Tymrak’s 2022 contract option following the 2021 season before re-signing her to her current contract.

Let’s look back at Tymrak’s third year with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

The 32-year-old appeared in 13 matches, starting 10 and playing 806 total minutes in the NWSL regular season. She was subbed off every time she started. Tymrak did not score a goal in 2023 but did contribute three assists on 21 key passes. Of her 11 shots on the season, she put just three of them on target while three others were blocked. She passed at a 73.4% rate, completing 174 of 237, connected six times on 12 long passes, and was successful twice on five total crosses. In her own half, her passing was better (85%) than in the attacking half (65.1%), as is typical of most players. Defensively, Tymrak won eight of 17 tackles (47.1%), 40 of 93 duels (43%), and just one of nine aerial duels (11.1%). She tallied three interceptions on the year. Tymrak won 14 fouls from the opposition while committing only four and was not booked on the season.

In the NWSL Challenge Cup, Tymrak appeared in all six of Orlando’s games, starting four, and playing 337 minutes. Again, she was subbed off every time she started. She did not score a goal but contributed one assist on four key passes. Tymrak attempted two shots in the competition. Neither was on goal and one was blocked. During the tournament, Tymrak passed at just a 64.9% rate on 74 attempts, was accurate just 33.3% of the time on six long passes, and went 0-for-3 on crosses. She connected on 81.5% of her passes in the defensive half and 43.5% in the attacking half. The Detroit native and University of Florida product recorded five interceptions on the defensive end, won two of three tackle attempts (66.7%), and won 19 of 42 duels (45.2%). She did not win any of her four aerial duels (0%). Tymrak won 11 fouls from the opposition while committing just two and was not booked.

Best Game

There were some good ones to choose from, but I’ll say Tymrak’s best match came on July 1 against the Washington Spirit on the road — a dominant 3-0 Pride victory. Tymrak started and played a season-high 89 minutes (tied with her next outing on July 7 against OL Reign and the April 15 game against Gotham FC). Her big moment in the match was providing the pass that set up this beauty of a goal from Julie Doyle that allowed Orlando to take full control of the match:

Tymrak also drew two fouls on the Spirit in the match and helped her teammates control the game. With the win, the Pride swept the season series from the Spirit.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Tymrak a composite rating of 5.5 out of 10. This is the same score she received from us for her 2022 season after securing a 6.5 in her first year with Orlando in 2021. Tymrak is a savvy veteran who can read the game well. She doesn’t produce much in the way of offense but she’s helpful with possession, facilitating between the defensive and offensive players around her on the pitch. She has a role on the team and is a useful player to have around to provide depth at this stage of her career.

2024 Outlook

Tymrak is signed through the 2024 season, so it’s likely she’ll occupy a similar role on the Pride next year — a reliable and versatile midfielder off the bench who can find teammates in the attack. Unless the Pride’s shooters are more lethal in 2024, I wouldn’t expect her assist numbers to go up, but perhaps she can find the net herself once or twice next season.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Rafaelle

Rafaelle joined the Pride on July 3 and immediately was a key part of the team.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride signed Rafaelle on July 3 to a contract running through the 2025 NWSL season. The Brazilian international took part in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, joining the Pride after the tournament. She immediately partnered Emily Madril at center back, becoming a key member of the starting lineup as the Pride made a run towards the NWSL playoffs.

Let’s take a look at how Rafaelle played after joining the team this season.

Statistical Breakdown

Rafaelle joined the Pride after the end of the 2023 Challenge Cup, so all of her appearances came in the regular season. She made seven appearances, all starts, and played 610 minutes. She played all 90 minutes in six of those games, being substituted for Megan Montefusco on Aug. 20 against the Chicago Red Stars, her first game with the club. The center back finished the season with 31 clearances, seven blocks, and 11 interceptions. She won nine of her 11 tackles (81.8%), 32 of her 50 duels (64%), and 17 of her 23 aerial duels (73.9%).

Going forward, Rafaelle completed 243 of her 305 passes (79,7%) and 30 of her 64 long balls (46.9%). As expected, most of her passes were forward (37.4%) and she played the ball more to her right (30.5%) than to her left (25.2%). She did not register an assist, a key pass, or a cross on the season. She took seven shots, putting four on target, and scored her lone goal in her Pride debut. Additionally, she won one foul and conceded six, but no penalties and she was not booked.

Best Game

Rafelle’s best game of the season came in her first appearance for the club, a 5-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Aug. 20. The Brazilian was strong defensively, winning all three of her tackles and recording one block, three interceptions, and six recoveries. She completed 28 of her 34 pass attempts (82.4%), with 25 of those passes coming from her own half.

It’s arguable whether this was her best defensive game, but it definitely featured the most memorable moment of her first season in purple. In the 14th minute, Penelope Hocking cleared the ball out for a Pride corner. Adriana’s set piece sailed beyond several players, but Rafaelle was on the back side of the box to head it towards goal. Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher got her hand to the ball, but couldn’t keep it out, giving the Pride an early 1-0 lead.

The Pride were up 5-0 in the 70th minute when Seb Hines decided to replace the center back with Montefusco, giving the 32-year-old defender a rest before an intense end to the season.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Rafaelle a composite grade of 6.5 for the 2023 season. She was better defensively than Montefusco and slid in nicely alongside Madril. Joining the team late in the season, she had a smaller sample size than she’ll likely have next season, but impressed. Having some competitive games and a full preseason, she might even receive a higher grade next year.

2024 Outlook

Rafaelle joined the Pride late in the season as they made a push for the playoffs. Going into next season, she’ll have experience playing alongside her center back partner, Madril, which should provide more comfort. Her current contract is through the 2025 season, so that pairing will likely remain on the starting back line at least through the next two years.

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