Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Trade Messiah Bright to Angel City FC

The Orlando Pride have surprisingly sent the second-year forward west after she requested a move.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

In a shocking move, the Orlando Pride have sent forward Messiah Bright to Angel City FC in exchange for $130,000 intra-league transfer funds. Bright, one of last year’s finalists for NWSL Rookie of the Year, was the Pride’s co-leader in goals scored and seemed to be the club’s striker of the future. However, the Pride will now have to find a replacement for last year’s second-round pick (No. 21 overall) after the forward requested a move out of Orlando.

“Messiah requested this trade for personal reasons and while we will miss her in Orlando. We are as committed to her as a person as we are to her as an athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Building a culture which supports athletes on and off the field often requires difficult decisions, such as this, but we remain committed to that culture, and are confident that a people-first approach is our competitive advantage. We appreciate Messiah’s contributions to the club and wish her all the best moving forward.” 

The Pride selected Bright out of TCU with the ninth pick of the second round in the 2023 NWSL draft and  signed Bright to a three-year deal on March 2, 2023. She appeared in all 22 regular-season matches, starting 16, and logging 1,379 minutes during her rookie campaign. She scored six goals on 41 shots with 12 on target but did not record an assist on her seven key passes. She passed at a 67.4% rate and finished with one interceptions, five blocks, a 53.8% tackle success rate, a 46.6% duel success rate, and a 59.4% aerial duel success rate. She committed 20 fouls, won six from the opposition, and was booked twice.

The 24-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 completed 66.7% of her passes in the competition but did not register an assist on nine key passes. Defensively, she won 50% of her four tackles, 44.4% of her duels, and 57.1% of her aerial duels. She also committed four fouls, suffered one, and was not booked in the tournament.

“I want to start by thanking the club for giving me the opportunity to do what I love,” Bright said in the club’s press release. “Reflecting on my time here in Orlando, it has been nothing but amazing. My teammates, the staff, and the fans welcomed me with open arms making the City Beautiful feel like home from day one. Although it was short, I will always remember the place where I started my career. I want to further extend a thank you to the club for supporting my request to move. Lastly, the dedication of this team was like no other, and I am so honored to have been a part of it. This group is special and I wish everyone the best as I send my continuous, outpouring love.”

What It Means for Orlando

This trade will obviously require a signing to replace Bright, a player with a lot of upside who tied Adriana for the club lead in goals in 2023. The Pride have some bodies who can play center forward but at the moment, Bright’s departure leaves a bit of a gap.

The recently acquired Simone Charley is coming off a serious injury and is likely more of a backup than a starter even when healthy. Mariana Larroquette and Ally Watt are less prolific options, while Amanda Allen doesn’t seem ready and the remainder of Orlando’s forwards operate more as wingers or attacking midfielders. Draft pick Alex Kerr isn’t signed yet and as a fourth-round selection, history is not necessarily on her side to make the roster. If the Pride want to contend in 2024, a replacement will be needed.

It is unfortunate that Bright asked out of a team built to develop together for an extended period of future success. Given Bright’s comments, it seems to be an amicable split, and it’s unproductive to speculate on why she asked to be moved. Bright can become a star in the NWSL if she can improve on her first touch, her decision making in the final third, and her ability to get her shots on target. But those will now become items Angel City will have to work on, while the Pride will have some extra cash to splash in the transfer market to try to find a suitable replacement — or even an upgrade.


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