Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Celia

The veteran fullback had her minutes cut considerably in 2023.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

The 2024 season was probably not what fullback Celia Jimenez Delgado (commonly known simply as Celia) anticipated. The veteran Spanish outside back was acquired from OL Reign in a trade on Dec. 18, 2021, along with Leah Pruitt (who is now retired), the 10th overall pick in 2022 (which became Caitlin Cosme), and the Reign’s natural 2023 second-round pick (which was traded to Houston as part of the Haley McCutcheon deal), in exchange for defender Phoebe McClernon. Celia put together a solid, if unspectacular, first year with the Pride in 2022. However, this season she found herself on the bench and was used a lot less frequently, with McCutcheon taking over the right back starting role and a brief look at Emily Madril in that spot as well.

Let’s take a look at her second year in Orlando.

Statistical Breakdown

The 28-year-old appeared in eight NWSL matches in 2023, starting only one. Celia missed one game due to injury and another with an excused absence. She tallied 193 minutes played and was subbed off in her lone start. She did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just two shots — one that was on target and another that was blocked. Celia completed 80% of her passes in the defensive half but only 57.4% of her passes in the attacking half, including one successful cross on five attempts and one key pass. Defensively, she registered four interceptions but no clearances or blocks. She one three of her four attempted tackles (75%), 13 of her 28 duels (46.4%), and eight of 11 aerial duels (72.7%). She won one foul while conceding four and was not booked.

In the NWSL Challenge Cup, Celia appeared in two of the team’s six matches, starting both and being subbed off in each. She logged 137 minutes without tallying a goal, assist, or shot attempt. As with the regular season, her defensive zone passing (66.7%) was far better than her success rate in the attacking half (47.1%). She had one cross attempt that did not find the target and had no key passes. Celia made four interceptions but did not record a clearance or a block on the defensive end. She committed one foul without winning any, and she was not booked.

Best Game

With such a small sample size, it’s tempting to go with one of the matches in which she played the most minutes. However, those were Challenge Cup games that resulted in lopsided losses and the team as a whole did not play well in them. I will go with her subsitute appearance in the 65th minute of Orlando’s 3-0 road win over the Washington Spirit on July 1. Celia came on for Messiah Bright and helped the Pride see out the final 25 minutes plus a great deal of stoppage time to hold on for a big road victory. She didn’t register anything in terms of statistics except a foul committed, but she was part of the effort in preserving the road shutout.

2023 Final Grade

After drifting a little further down the Pride’s depth chart in 2023, Celia only totaled 330 minutes between the regular season and Challenge Cup. As such, she will receive an incomplete for this past season after coming up 30 minutes shy of the requisite minimum number of combined minutes to receive a composite score from The Mane Land staff for her season. Last year, Celia received a 6 out of 10, but in 2023 she seemed to fall out of favor and was relegated to a bench role when the team needed her attacking skills to chase a game late.

2024 Outlook

Celia is under contract through the 2024 season and could return as a depth player. She would have an opportunity in camp to earn a bigger role with the team. However, at 28 years old and with plenty of tread left on the tires, it’s possible that she might want to find a new team rather than sit the bench again. She could be left unprotected in the NWSL Expansion Draft. She might make an attractive target for a team looking to build its roster. I would not expect her role to be much different in 2024 if she is still on the Pride roster, but she does have experience and good on-the-ball skills, and that’s not a bad combination.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)


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