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Orlando Pride Sign Forward Ally Watt Through 2024

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The Orlando Pride have announced that forward Ally Watt has signed a new contract that extends her stay in the City Beautiful through the 2024 NWSL season. Watt joined the Pride exactly three months ago when Orlando sent $125,000 in Allocation Money to OL Reign for the speedy forward.

“Ally is an exciting young player and we’re happy to have her continue with us after acquiring her earlier this year,” Head Coach Seb Hines said in a club press release. “She’s a player that is well-traveled and we’re happy that Orlando is a place she’ll be for the foreseeable future. We think she is someone who fits very well in what we’re trying to build here at the Pride and we look forward to having her back with us in 2023.”  

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in Orlando and I’m excited to continue as part of this organization,” Watt said in the club’s release. “I’m happy to be with a great group of girls and I’m very excited for the future of this team and the organization. I can’t wait to get started in 2023.”

Watt played in six matches with the Pride after being traded from OL Reign, starting one and playing 219 minutes. She scored one goal — on her Pride debut — but did not add any assists, taking nine shots and getting four of those on target. She passed at a 68% success rate, winning six tackles and two interceptions. She committed four fouls and drew one and was offside once. She was not booked. Because the league site has combined her season stats, some of her Pride-specific stats are unavailable. Combined across the Reign and Pride, Watt played 616 minutes in the league in 20 appearances, but started only four times. She scored just the one goal with Orlando, passed at just a 61% success rate, and provided seven key passes without registering an assist.

After playing just 219 minutes with the Pride, Watt did not receive a Season in Review grade from The Mane Land, but from what little we saw, her play was encouraging. The Pride have needed more pace in the attack and Watt certainly brings that.

Watt was a first-round selection (No. 6 overall) of the North Carolina Courage out of Texas A&M back in 2020, but has had a professional career plagued with injuries. She made her professional debut during the 2019-2020 W-League season in Australia for Melbourne City.

The 25-year-old attacker made her NWSL debut on June 27, 2020 during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup but her season was cut short after just 13 minutes when she tore her ACL and meniscus. The Courage traded the Colorado Springs native to the Reign following the 2020 season in exchange for Taylor Smith and the rights to former Pride forward Jodie Taylor.

However, Sounder at Heart reports that before she could return to full training, her 2021 season was also cut short due to a failed meniscus repair. As a result, the forward had to have another surgery — the fourth on her knee.

Watt returned to full training for the Reign last fall and made her debut for the Washington-based club — her second NWSL appearance — on Oct. 10, 2021. The forward appeared in 21 of the Reign’s 22 games in all competitions during the 2022 NWSL season prior to being traded to Orlando.

Prior to turning professional, Watt was Texas A&M’s first two-time United Soccer Coaches All-America first team selection. Additionally, she was named to the All-SEC first team three times, named the 2019 SEC Forward of the Year, and was a 2018 and 2019 MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist.

Internationally, Watt appeared for the United States U-20 National Team. She took part in the 2016 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup in Papua New Guinea, scoring two goals.

What It Means for Orlando

It’s difficult to say what Watt’s signing on through 2024 means for the Pride because, for starters, it depends on whether or not she can stay healthy. Watt didn’t even do that in her brief stint with the Pride at the end of this season, although it was a wrist that kept her out of the season finale, not her knee.

A healthy Watt getting regular minutes could become a valuable part of Orlando’s attack. She was a top-six draft pick for a reason. Watt has a world of potential and a whole lot of pace. The Pride will hope she can stay in the lineup and produce the way the Courage thought she would back in 2020. If she can do that, her acquisition could be one of the most important in club history. However, it’s fair to say that at this point in her career, Watt still has a lot to prove.

Playing alongside Darian Jenkins will give Orlando a formidable amount of pace on the attacking line, but both players have to improve their passing in the final third and their finishing for that pace to matter. The Pride are betting on that to happen.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Kylie Strom to Three-Year Deal

The Pride have signed starting left back and free agent Kylie Strom 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 starting left back Kylie Strom to a new three-year contract. The defender became a free agent following the 2023 NWSL season, but the Pride said they were in negotiations to bring her back.

“Kylie is coming off the best season of her professional career, a season in which she was one of the most underrated defenders in the league, and we believe she deserves much more recognition than she’s received,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “It means a lot to us that she has not only seen what we are building here, but she has completely bought into it and has chosen to stay in Orlando. She is a vital leader within the locker room and on the field, and we couldn’t be more excited to keep her onboard. Our goal is to build off last season’s success and ensuring her return was a key aspect of that.” 

The Endicott, NY, native joined the Pride from Spanish side Atletico Madrid on July 5, 2021, where she spent two seasons. Her initial contract with Orlando was a two-year deal with an option for a third year. The club picked up her option after the 2022 NWSL season and she became a free agent this off-season. However, she says her intention was to remain in purple and be a part of what the club is building.

“I have said it since the beginning of last year, what we are building here throughout the Pride is really special,” Strom said in a club press release. “I think the team that we have, from the players to the people, is all really exciting and I am just excited to continue to be a part of it. I think we can achieve a lot after coming up just short last year. Moving forward, we have learned and grown and have a lot to look forward to.” 

In her first three seasons with the Pride, Strom has made 58 appearances in all competitions, with 46 starts, and has played 4,163 minutes. She made her debut on July 9, 2021 in a 1-1 draw against Racing Louisville. Her Pride career began on the bench, but she took over the starting left back job from Courtney Petersen midway through last season. This year, she started 26 of the team’s 28 games in all competitions and all 22 of the Pride’s leagues games.

The 30-year-old had a breakout year in 2023, starting 26 games and recording 2,281 minutes. She had a goal and an assist, playing the second-most minutes on the team behind center back Emily Madril. Additionally, she was named to the NWSL Team of the Month for both May and August.

What It Means for Orlando

The signing of Strom means that the Pride will have their starting back five returning next season. They previously signed goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse and center back Madril to new contracts, so the next one up is right back Haley McCutcheon. Everyone else is under contract through at least the 2025 NWSL season (McCutcheon is currently signed through 2024).

Finding the right defensive unit has been a struggle for Pride Head Coach Seb Hines since he took over the role on an interim basis midway through the 2022 season. But he settled on Strom, Madril, Rafaelle, and McCutcheon in front of Moorhouse last season. The Pride’s 28 goals conceded last year was sixth in the 12-team league, but they showed improvements as the season went on. They only gave up multiple goals once in their last five games, though it was a key 3-2 loss to Racing Louisville, eventually knocking them out of the playoffs.

Regardless, the team sees this defensive unit as essential to the team’s success next season and there was little question Orlando wanted Strom back. The only free agent from last year’s team now is defensive midfielder Jordyn Listro, who is a restricted free agent. With the club having traded Mikayla Cluff to the Utah Royals for expansion draft protection, bringing Listro back likely becomes the club’s new top priority.

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Messiah Bright

The Pride’s rookie striker made a name for herself in 2023.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

The Orlando Pride selected Messiah Bright with the ninth pick of the second round (21st overall) in the 2023 NWSL draft, and she may have been the steal of that draft. The Pride then signed Bright to a three-year deal on March 2. The Dallas, TX native started all 102 matches she played at TCU during her college career.

Let’s take a look at the rookie striker’s 2023 season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Bright appeared in 22 regular-season matches, starting 16, logging a total of 1,379 minutes. She scored six goals on 41 shots with 12 on target and 10 blocked. She did not have an assist, but she made seven key passes. Bright completed 184 of her 273 total passes (67.4%). She was accurate on 52.7% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 83.7% in her own half. She was three of four on her long passes (75%). She also completed two of her 25 crosses. Defensively, she made one interception and five blocks, won 14 of her 26 tackles (53.8%), won 99 of her 211 duels (46.6%), and won 38 of her 64 aerial duels (59.4%). She also committed 20 fouls, suffered six fouls, and was booked twice.

The 23-year-old made six appearances in NWSL Challenge Cup play, starting three games and playing 307 total minutes. Bright scored one goal on seven total shots with three on target. She attempted four crosses, though none were successful, and registered no assists. Bright completed 48 of her 72 total passes (66.7%). She was accurate on 58.5% of her passes in the opponent’s half, and 73.9% in her own half.  Bright was one for three on her long passes (33.3%), and made nine key passes. Defensively, she won two of her four tackles (50%), 20 of her 45 duels (44.4%), and eight of her 14 aerial duels (57.1%). She also committed four fouls, suffered one foul, and was not booked in the tournament.

Best Game

Bright’s best match was the 5-0 win over the Chicago Red Stars on Aug 20. She scored the first brace of her professional career with the first goal coming in the 23rd minute on this absolutely stunning volley into the upper right corner of the goal.

Bright followed up that goal with her second early in the second half. In the 49th minute she received a gorgeous through ball from Marta, went around the keeper and then calmly put it inside the left post past the surging defenders. 

Bright only played 60 minutes, but she made the most of each minute. Her goals came on four shots with three on target. She also completed seven of her eight passes (85.7%) on 19 touches, committed no fouls, suffered no fouls, and was not booked.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Bright a composite rating of 6 out of 10 for the 2023 season. She had a very solid rookie season, but she was still a rookie and thus made some mistakes. Bright has all the tools to be a great striker in the NWSL and perhaps eventually for the USWNT. Given this was Bright’s first season, she did not receive a grade in 2022.

2024 Outlook

Bright is signed through the 2025 season, though if she continues to develop as expected she may get a new contract before then. She will be a consistent starter for the Pride in 2024 as she was in 2023, and I expect her production to increase despite teams now knowing what she is capable of doing. Her size and strength can’t be taught, though she can learn to use those attributes more effectively.


Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

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2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Emily Madril

The first-year defender played almost every single minute available in the 2023 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

The Orlando Pride selected former Florida State defender Emily Madril with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2023 NWSL Draft. The 5-foot-7 Navarre, FL native decided to forego her last season of eligibility in Tallahassee to begin her professional career. A two-time national champion (2018 and 2021), Madril left FSU, signing a contract with the National Women’s Soccer League through 2025 and was loaned to Swedish side BK Hacken FF.

Following a standout first NWSL season in which she played all but three minutes in the regular season, Madril was rewarded by the Pride with a new contract through 2026.

Let’s take a look at her first season with the Orlando Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Madril started all 22 of the Pride’s regular-season games in 2023, leading all rookies in minutes played (1,977), and coming off only moments before the end of the club’s season finale against the Houston Dash when the Pride were desperately trying to score a game winner to stay in playoff contention. The defender did not record a goal or an assist on the season, attempting just one shot, which was off target. Madril completed 814 of her 953 passes (85.4%), 46 of her 103 long passes (44.7%), and one of her three crosses, while recording five key passes. There wasn’t much drop-off in her passing rate related to position on the field, as Madril completed 88.7% of her passes in the defensive half and 75.6% in the attacking half. Defensively, she added 19 blocks and 19 interceptions, won 17 of her 28 tackles (60.7%), and was successful on 76 of her 122 duels (62.3%). She also won 54.5% of her 33 aerial duels. She won 23 fouls while conceding only nine and was booked twice during the regular season.

In the NWSL Challenge Cup, Madril appeared in five of the team’s six matches (all starts), and played 450 minutes. She did not score a goal or assist on one and did not attempt a shot. She completed 193 of her 224 passes (86.2%), including 13 of her 25 long passes (52%). Madril passed at an 89% rate in her own half and a 78.3% in the attacking half, recording one key pass, but not attempting a cross in the competition. She recorded 10 blocks and four interceptions on defense, winning 55.6% of her tackle attempts, 68.1% of her duels, and 71.4% of her aerial duels. She committed five fouls, drawing six on the opposition, and was not booked in the tournament.

Best Game

With a number of standout games to choose from, I’ll go with the Pride’s 1-0 win over OL Reign on July 7. Paired with Megan Montefusco as the center back tandem, Madril and her teammates limited the Reign to just five shot attempts (two on target) across the 90+ minutes of the game. Madril had 55 touches and completed 89.1% of her 46 passes. She recorded two tackles and drew two fouls on her opponents while not committing any. Madril and her teammates helped Messiah Bright’s 16th-minute strike hold up over the remainder of the match without constantly being under siege. It was a complete performance and one of the team’s best defensive efforts of the year. It was also just the Pride’s second win ever against OL Reign.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Madril a composite rating of 6.5 for the 2023 season. There were several shaky moments early in the year for the first-year NWSL defender that prevented that score from rising higher (such as conceding a penalty against Angel City), but as the season progressed and she became more comfortable with Seb Hines’ system, the league, and her teammates, Madril was a solid player on the Pride’s back line. She showed her versatility in being able to play both center back positions as well as right back for a couple of matches. A 6.5 is a good rating for a first-year NWSL center back, and Madril showed that she has the potential to develop into one of the league’s best defenders.

2024 Outlook

Madril is obviously highly regarded by the organization and has a huge upside. She has expressed on multiple occasions how happy she is to be with the Pride, and I would expect her to be in Orlando until/unless the Pride get an offer they can’t refuse from a bigger club or if Madril decides to leave once she’s eligible for free agency. Madril should be a starter on the back line for the Pride in 2024 barring something unforseen.


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