The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that goalkeeper Erin McLeod and midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir are leaving the club. Married on Jan. 2, the pair will depart the NWSL and move to Jonsdottir’s home country of Iceland.
“Both Gunny and Erin have been incredibly important members of, not only the Pride, but of the NWSL as a whole,” Pride Head Coach Seb Hines said in a club press release. “Their impact, skill, and professionalism will be missed both within our locker room and in our community, but this next step of their lives is an exciting one that we are also celebrating. On behalf of the entire organization, we thank both Erin and Gunny for everything they have given to the club and wish them all the best in this next chapter together.”
McLeod initially joined the Pride in 2020 to back up Ashlyn Harris. The Canadian international made her debut for Orlando in 2021 and became the starter last season when Harris was traded to NJ/NY Gotham FC. She signed a one-year contract extension early in the 2022 season, that ran through 2023. In two regular seasons, McLeod played in 26 games (25 starts) and recorded 2,273 minutes. She saved 81 of 129 shots (63%) and conceded 48 goals. Her four clean sheets are second in team history behind Harris’ 14, and she ended her Pride tenure with a record of 8-10-7.
The Edmonton native was on Canada’s roster for four World Cups and three Summer Olympic Games. The 39-year-old most recently won a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo games, adding to her bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics in London.
“This decision was one of the hardest of my career, but as I have gotten older, my dreams and priorities have shifted. Now it is time to begin the next chapter of my life with my wife,” McLeod said in the press release. “I am inspired and excited by the work this club has done in the off-season, led by the Wilf family, which has made this decision even harder. I believe, now more than ever, there are great things ahead for this club. A new identity, a new Pride. To the fans and the Black Swans, thank you for showing up, no matter what. Without all of you, this club wouldn’t exist.”
Jonsdottir joined the Pride, along with the rights to Erika Tymrak, prior to the 2021 season in a trade with the Utah Royals that saw Kristen Edmonds go the other way. A regular starter during the 2021 season, the Icelandic international was named captain ahead of last season when Marta went down with a torn ACL during the NWSL Challenge Cup. In two seasons with the club, Jonsdottir made 48 appearances (42 starts) and recorded 3,700 minutes. She scored five goals and provided two assists in all competitions.
The 34-year-old has been a regular on Iceland’s national team since 2011. She recently played in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro Championship and the 2022 SheBelieves Cup.
“Orlando has been my home for the past two years and it is not easy saying goodbye,” Jónsdóttir said in the club’s release. “Thank you to the players. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to step on the field with you. Thank you to the staff. You were always so welcoming and willing to help in any way possible. And last but not least, thank you to the fans for their endless support, especially to the Black Swans, who always showed up and supported us through the thick and thin. I wish the Pride the best of luck this season and I will be cheering you on from afar.”
Off the field, Jonsdottir was the Pride’s Nationwide Community Impact Ambassador. She represented and raised money for Special Olympics Florida and supported the athletes at the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando.
What This Means for Orlando
The most noticeable absence will be McLeod, who started 20 of the team’s 22 NWSL regular-season games last season. The starting role will likely now go to English goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse, who was signed last season from French club Bordeaux. Including the NWSL Challenge Cup, Moorhouse started five games last year, saving 23 of 36 shots (64%) and conceding 13 goals. Giving up 2.6 goals per game is not a recipe for success, but there was more than just goalkeeping at fault.
The only other goalkeeper on the Pride roster is Kaylie Collins, so they’ll be looking to sign a third before the start of the 2023 season.
Jonsdottir had a tough 2022 season, missing five games due to minor injuries and international duty. When she returned to action, she came off the bench, but started the final three games of the season. The Pride will miss the Icelandic midfielder’s leadership in the middle of the field, as shown by her captaincy early in the season. She was also a willing late runner into the box to help the attack, which is something the younger players will have to add to their game.
While Marta is returning, the loss of a veteran midfielder like Jonsdottir especially hurts after Meggie Dougherty Howard signed with the San Diego Wave as a free agent. The team does have the experienced Haley McCutcheon, but the young team will miss the additional leadership.