Orlando Pride

2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Viviana Villacorta

Viviana Villacorta was having a solid, injury-free season before her 2023 campaign was cut short.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride drafted Vivana Villacorta out of UCLA in the 2021 NWSL Draft. She missed her rookie year due to an ACL tear and suffered an ankle injury in 2022. The midfielder was looking for a breakout season this year alongside Mikayla Cluff and Jordyn Listro in the defensive midfield, but suffered another season-ending knee injury. Despite the disappointing finish, she showed how important she can be to the team when healthy.

Let’s take a look at Villacorta’s third season with the Pride.

Statistical Breakdown

Villacorta played a significant role for the Pride in both the Challenge Cup and the regular season before tearing her ACL in September. She appeared in five of the Pride’s six Challenge Cup games, starting four and recording 325 minutes. She did not tally a goal or an assist or attempt a shot. A main distributor of the ball, the midfielder completed 98 of her 118 pass attempts (83.1%), four of her eight long passes (50%), and had one key pass. Most of her passes were either forward (33.9%) or to the right (34.7%). Defensively, she won three of her seven tackles (42.9%), 15 of her 22 duels (68.2%), and all three of her aerial duels. She recorded 10 interceptions in the competition, won four fouls, conceded three, and was not booked.

In the regular season, Villacorta played in 16 games, starting 13, and recorded 1,106 minutes. She did not score a goal but did assist on one and attempted nine shots, although none of those were on target and seven were blocked. Her passing was similar to the Challenge Cup, completing 337 of 402 passes (83.8%), eight of 19 long passes (42.1%), and she recorded seven key passes. Her directional passing was more even in the regular season with 27.9% going the right and 22.1% going to the left side of the field. Defensively, she won half of her 14 tackles, 37 of her 72 duels (51.4%), and five of her seven aerial duels (71.4%). She won nine fouls, conceded eight, and was not booked all season.

Best Game

Villacorta’s best game this season was on April 29 in a 3-1 win over San Diego Wave FC in California. The team’s first points of the season included quality performances from multiple players, including the defensive midfielder. She completed 28 of her 30 pass attempts, had 11 recoveries, and intercepted the ball four times. However, her biggest impact of the game came in the 42nd minute.

After Jaedyn Shaw gave the hosts the early lead, Cluff equalized in the 26th minute. Looking to take the surprising lead, Marta found the midfielder open and Villacorta quickly looked up to see Haley McCutcheon making a run behind the Wave defense. Villacorta sent a beautifully weighted ball to McCutcheon, who redirected it towards the back post with a header to give the team a 2-1 lead and ultimately the winning goal.

2023 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff gave Villacorta a composite score of 5.5 for the 2023 season. This is the same grade the TML staff gave her last season. She was on the bench for the first three games while Pride Head Coach Seb Hines figured out his lineup, but was the most trusted defensive midfielder for most of the season. However, she came off the bench in back-to-back games in September, before seeing her season end with a knee injury. Despite the premature finish to her season, she was a solid player for the Pride this year.

2024 Outlook

Villacorta signed a new contract with the Pride on Dec. 7, 2022, keeping her in Orlando through the 2024 season. However, she tore her ACL for the second time in her career in late September during training, ending her season. Since this injury takes eight to nine months to recover from, the midfielder will likely miss the first couple of months of the 2024 NWSL season — a significant absence in the Pride lineup.

How Villacorta returns from injury will determine her 2024 campaign. When healthy, she’s the team’s best defensive midfielder and a critical link between the back line and the attack. But it’s difficult to determine the impact she’ll have on the team next season until she gets back on the field, which is still a few months away.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)


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