Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all of you are doing well down in Florida. I’ve been busy with work lately, but there are only a few days to go before the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Orlando Pride Announce Roster Decisions
The Orlando Pride announced their roster decisions following the 2022 NWSL season. While there were no major surprises, we can expect another rebuilding year next season for the Pride. The Pride picked up the options for Julie Doyle, Gunny Jonsdottir, and Kylie Strom for the 2023 NWSL season. The Pride made new offers to Jordyn Listro, Viviana Villacorta, Celia, Carrie Lawrence, and Courtney Petersen. The club decided not to bring back Thais Reiss, Parker Roberts, and Chelsee Washington, and they will enter the waiver wire. Meggie Dougherty Howard, Toni Pressley, Erika Tymrak, and Marta will be eligible to test NWSL free agency for the first time, but the club is in discussions with all four players about returning to the Pride in 2023. There are 12 Pride players who remain under contract, including Haley Bugeja, Darian Jenkins, Leah Pruitt, Ally Watt, Mikayla Cluff, Kerry Abello, Caitlin Cosme, Haley Hanson, and Megan Montefusco. Goalkeepers Kaylie Collins, Erin McLeod, and Anna Moorhouse also remain under contract.
Pride Sign Ally Watt to a New Contract
The Orlando Pride and Ally Watt agreed to a new contract that will keep her at the club through the 2024 NWSL season. Watt joined the club three months ago when she was acquired in a trade with the OL Reign in exchange for $125,000 in Allocation Money. Watt made six appearances for the Pride after the trade, starting in one match and playing 219 minutes. Watt also scored a goal in her debut but didn’t have any assists for the Pride. She missed the season finale for the Pride due to a wrist injury. The 25-year-old has potential and brings pace up front in the attack. Hopefully, if Watt can stay healthy next season, it can be a huge boost for the Pride offensively.
Kelley O’Hara Signs with Gotham FC
Former Washington Spirit defender Kelley O’Hara announced that she has signed with NJ/NY Gotham FC.
— NJ/NY Gotham FC (@GothamFC) November 16, 2022
O’Hara makes NWSL history as the first player to sign with a new team via free agency. She previously played with the club from 2013 to 2017 when it was known as Sky Blue FC. O’Hara made 24 appearances for the Spirit and scored the game-winning goal in the 2021 NWSL Championship game to clinch the Spirit their first title. O’Hara will boost a Gotham defense that conceded 46 goals this past season.
Ashlyn Harris Gets a New Gig with Gotham FC
NJ/NY Gotham FC announced that former Orlando Pride and USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will move up to the front office in a new role as the club’s global creative advisor. Harris announced her retirement from professional soccer earlier this week. In her new role, Harris will drive collaborations between Gotham FC and brands to steer the club’s artistic direction alongside the marketing team. Harris has experience as a brand ambassador for Adidas and worked as a model for Elite Model Management. Harris also did brand ambassador work and marketing collaboration for Ally Bank, Hertz, and Procter & Gamble.
Potential Breakout Stars to Keep an Eye on at the World Cup
Stars and Stripes FC identified some players who can impress in the World Cup. Almoez Ali has 42 goals in 85 appearances with Qatar and could be the star of the tournament’s first match on Sunday. In Group B, American midfielder Yunus Musah could be crucial for the USMNT to succeed in a group that also includes England’s Jude Bellingham and Welsh midfielder Daniel James. Mexico’s Uriel Antuna, Polish forward Karol Swiderski, and Swiss forward Breel Embolo are a few of the other players to watch in Qatar. It will also be the World Cup debut for Canada’s Alphonso Davies, who will play as a forward for his team.
More MLS Clubs Make Roster Decisions
FC Cincinnati announced that it declined the option of defender Geoff Cameron. New York City FC declined the options on midfielders Matias Pellegrini and Gedion Zelalem, while goalkeeper Sean Johnson is out of contract. Sporting Kansas City re-signed goalkeeper Tim Melia and is working on retaining Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, and Andreu Fontas as well. The runners-up in this year's MLS Cup final, the Philadelphia Union, picked up the option on Kai Wagner and are conversing with forward Corey Burke and former Orlando City goalkeeper Joe Bendik on returning next season. MLS Cup champion LAFC exercised the options for Kellyn Acosta, Latif Blessing, Mamadou Fall, and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau.
- NYCFC reportedly reached an agreement to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens, with the project expected to be completed in 2027.
- Although he only joined this past summer, Italian defender Domenico Criscito will not be with Toronto FC next season.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 15, 2022
- The NWSL announced that the 2023 NWSL Draft will be held during the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia on Jan. 12.
- France and RB Leipzig star Christopher Nkunku will miss the World Cup after suffering a sprain on his left knee in training less than a week before France's first match against Australia.
- Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has reportedly informed his bosses that Cristiano Ronaldo should not play for the club again.
- Some USMNT players shared their memories of dealing with trash talk over the years and goalkeeper Matt Turner mentioned his experience playing against Orlando.
"It's just fun to get into players' heads, so I like to do it sometimes."
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 15, 2022
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.