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Evaluating the Orlando Pride’s Trade of the First Pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft

The Pride received several assets when they traded the first overall pick in 2020. How have those asset worked out for the team?

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

On Jan. 8, 2020, the Orlando Pride made a trade that would impact multiple iterations of the team over the years since. The Pride ended the 2019 NWSL season with a record of 4-16-4 (W-L-D) and 16 points, the worst in the league. As a result, they were awarded the first overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft.

The clear-cut best player available in the draft was Stanford forward Sophia Smith. However, the sophomore had clear preferences on which teams she was willing to play for and delayed her decision to declare for the draft until the Portland Thorns traded up. The Pride got a haul for the right to draft the teenager, who turned out to be a superstar in the league and in the international game.

In return for the first overall pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft, Orlando received Emily Sonnett, the rights to Australian international Caitlin Foord, and the seventh and 14th picks in the 2020 NWSL Draft. The Pride have flipped every one of those assets in the time since — some with positive results and others with less success.

Let’s take a look at how each of those moves have turned out.

Emily Sonnett

Without question, the biggest asset received in the trade was Sonnett. The USWNT international was in her prime and had been with the Thorns since 2016. Despite spending on big names since joining the league, the Pride had little success and Sonnett was a player they could build around. However, she would never get a chance to play in Orlando, as the 2020 season was canceled due to the global pandemic, she was sent on loan to Sweden, and the club traded her at the end of the year.

The deal that saw Sonnett depart the Pride came on Dec. 24, 2020. In return for the midfielder/defender, the Washington Spirit sent Meggie Dougherty Howard, the ninth pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft, a future first-round pick, and $140,000 in Allocation Money. The Pride used the ninth pick on UCLA midfielder Viviana Villacorta, who is still with the team today. The conditional pick ended up being the second overall pick in 2023, which was traded to NJ/NY Gotham FC for $350,000 in Allocation Money and Gotham’s fourth-round pick in 2024. The Pride recently used that selection on UCF midfielder Talia Gabarra, who has yet to sign and may be a longshot to make the roster. After the Pride parted with the pick, Gotham dealt it to the Kansas City Current. In return, the Current sent USWNT forward Lynn Williams to New Jersey. They then used the selection on Duke forward Michelle Cooper.

Dougherty Howard was a key player for the Pride for two seasons. She played a total of 44 games (33 starts) in purple and recorded 2,747 minutes, adding three goals and five assists. She brought leadership to a team going through a complete rebuild, something the team needed at the time. Her time with the Pride ended after the 2022 season when she signed as a free agent with San Diego Wave FC.

The Rights to Caitlin Foord

The second player involved in the deal never played for the Pride. Foord moved to the NWSL in 2018, joining the Thorns from Sydney FC. After the Pride acquired her in the Jan. 8 trade, she signed with Arsenal of England’s Women’s Super League. She still plays for the London team today.

This situation is simpler than the others in this trade, as there was only one subsequent move. Racing Louisville FC joined the NWSL for the 2021 season and the league held an Expansion Draft on Nov. 12, 2020. The new club could take up to two players from each team and had already selected Pride defender Alanna Kennedy with the sixth selection. Louisville took Foord’s NWSL rights with its ninth pick of the draft, ensuring the Pride wouldn’t lose any more players. Since Foord hasn’t returned to the NWSL and is unlikely to, the Pride didn’t lose anything in that part of the trade.

Seventh Pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft

The first draft pick acquired in the trade for Smith was Portland’s natural first-round pick, seventh overall. The Pride used that pick on Virginia defender Courtney Petersen. It didn’t take long for Petersen to become a key member of the Pride. She lost the 2020 season to the pandemic, but was the starting left back in 2021. She played in 22 of the team’s 24 league games, starting 21 and recording 1,877 minutes. She scored one goal and added two assists.

Unfortunately, Petersen lost her starting spot in 2022 to Kylie Strom, the Pride’s current starting left back. She still played in 19 games, with nine starts, and logged 1,011 minutes of action. That was the final season for Petersen in Orlando as she was traded along with the team’s 2024 third-round pick on Feb. 1, 2023 to the Houston Dash for $65,000 in Allocation Money. That pick turned out to be the 36th overall and was used on Pittsburgh forward Amanda West.

14th Pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft

The Pride used the 14th pick of the 2020 NWSL Draft on Virginia center back Phoebe McClernon. It appeared as though the defender would be a cornerstone for the Pride’s rebuild, immediately becoming a regular starter. She played 25 games in 2021, with 19 starts, and recorded 1,776 minutes in all competitions. However, her time in Orlando ended up being short-lived.

On Dec. 18, 2021, OL Reign offered the Pride a deal they couldn’t refuse. In exchange for the young defender, the Pride got the 10th pick of the 2022 NWSL Draft, the Reign’s second-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft, forward Leah Pruitt, and Spanish right back Celia.

The Pride used the 2022 pick on Duke center back Caitlin Cosme and signed her to a two-year deal. A preseason and late season injury saw Cosme’s time limited in 2022. She was on the bench for seven consecutive games in July and August before landing back on the injured list. Finally healthy heading into 2023, Cosme began the year at starting center back beside 2023 first-round pick Emily Madril. She started the first four league games before being relegated to the bench once again. Additionally, she made two Challenge Cup starts, but the club decided not to renew her contract after the 2023 season.

The second-round pick was much more useful, because the club flipped it for a key player in the lineup. Combining the pick with $75,000 in Allocation Money, the Pride traded for Dash defender/midfielder Haley McCutcheon (nee Hanson) on Oct. 18, 2022. She immediately became a starter in the defensive midfield, finishing the 2022 season with six appearances, four starts, and 373 minutes. Last year, Pride Head Coach Seb Hines moved her to right back, where she started all 22 regular-season games, playing 1,955 minutes.

McCutcheon was clearly the most valuable player acquired in the McClernon trade, but the Pride also got two other veterans. Pruitt played in 13 games (nine starts) in 2022 for 749 minutes and recorded a goal and an assist before retiring on April 6, 2023. Celia was a regular starter at right back in 2022, playing in 18 games (17 starts) and recording 1,287 minutes. McCutcheon’s move to right back saw Celia’s time limited, as the Spaniard appeared in only eight games with one start in 2023 and logged just 193 minutes.

How did the trade work out for the Pride?

The Pride ended up getting a decent haul for trading the number one pick in 2020, especially since Smith didn’t want to play in Orlando. They ended up with two starters in Villacorta and McCutcheon, as well as a backup right back in Celia. It would’ve been better if they had more success with the 10th pick in 2022, but Cosme didn’t work out and is no longer with the team.

Even though Orlando lost Dougherty Howard to free agency, her leadership helped the young players develop into what they’ve become today. The team also ended up with a net gain of $480,000 in Allocation Money after all of the transactions related to the original trade. It’s unknown how exactly they’ve used the funds, but it’s gone towards building the veteran base of the team like acquiring Adriana and Rafaelle while re-signing Marta.

The biggest problem with this trade is what Smith ended up becoming. If she was a bust or left for Europe soon after arriving, the Pride would’ve been the winners. Instead, the striker won the 2020 Fall Series, 2021 NWSL Shield and Challenge Cup, and the 2022 NWSL Championship. Individually, she was named the 2022 NWSL MVP and U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. Orlando did not net a star player, but got multiple useful players who contributed over the last few years.


After all the wheeling and dealing, here’s what the Pride received for shipping the number one pick in 2020 off to Portland.

  • Three seasons of Courtney Petersen
  • Two seasons of Meggie Dougherty Howard
  • One season of Phoebe McClernon
  • One season of Caitlin Cosme
  • One season of Leah Pruitt
  • Celia (still with the team)
  • Haley McCutcheon (still with the team)
  • Viviana Villacorta (still with the team)
  • Talia Gabarra (currently unsigned)
  • The rights to Caitlin Foord (lost to Racing Louisville in the 2020 Expansion Draft)
  • $550,000 of Allocation Money

Meanwhile, the club gave up $75,000 in Allocation Money and a second-round pick in the 2023 NWSL Draft along the way.

Note: Michael Citro assisted with research for this story.

Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Sign Midfielder Kerry Abello to New Contract

The Pride have signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that the club has signed midfielder Kerry Abello to a new three-year contract. The deal keeps Abello in purple through the 2026 NWSL season.

“We are thrilled to keep Kerry in Orlando through 2026. Since joining the club, she has proven to be a reliable and versatile player for our team,” Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “In a few short years, she has grown into a leader in our locker room and sets the standard for professionalism and accountability, two values we center our culture around. Ensuring she remains a part of what we are building here, both on and off the field, was a priority for us in the off-season. We are happy to bring that to fruition and look forward to her continued growth and performance.” 

Abello was initially drafted by the Pride with the 24th pick of the 2021 NWSL Draft, but decided to return to school for a fifth season. The club finally signed the Penn State product to a two-year contract on Jan. 28, 2022. The midfielder signed another two-year deal on Feb. 23, 2023, with a club option for 2025. Just over a year later, she’s now inked a third contract, ensuring her stay in Orlando will run through 2026.

Initially coming off the bench, Abello became a regular starter late in her rookie season. Over the past three years, she’s seen time at attacking and defensive midfield, showing her versatility. In total, Abello has made 49 appearances (31 starts) in all competitions and recorded 2,835 minutes. She’s scored one goal and contributed one assist.

Last year, the 24-year-old midfielder made 25 appearances (18 starts), recording 1,642 minutes, and adding a goal and an assist. She participated in all but two league games and five of the team’s six Challenge Cup contests.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is truly no place I’d rather be. Thank you, Orlando, for having me for the next three years,” Abello said in a club press release. “I’m feeling full of joy, gratitude, and inspiration. There’s work to be done, and I can’t wait to put my whole heart into this season and all the rest. Vamos!”

The Batavia, IL, native was a part of the United States youth set up at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels. She received a call up to the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team for the 2022 Women’s U-23 Three-Nations Tournament, scoring in a 3-0 win over Sweden.

Prior to being drafted by the Pride, Abello was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, helping Penn State win three Big Ten championships. She was also named to the All-North Team twice in her five collegiate seasons.

What It Means for Orlando

Similar to her last contract, this deal ensures that Abello will continue her stay in Orlando beyond the upcoming season. She originally started on the bench under former Pride head coach Amanda Cromwell, but won over Seb Hines with her versatility in the midfield. During her first two professional season, she’s played extensively at attacking and defensive midfield. However, she can also play on the back line, having been a center back in college.

Following the 2023 NWSL season, Carter told The Mane Land’s Skopurp Soccer podcast that the club focused on the back line last off-season and was focusing on the midfield this off-season. Signing Abello, who has been a crucial part of the club’s rebuild, was always going to be part of that plan.

Between the re-signing of Abello and the new additions to the team, the midfield has more depth than before. Abello’s presence could be crucial, because the midfield’s Brazilian internationals will likely miss time due to international call-ups. Abello can fill in multiple positions, ensuring there won’t be a significant drop-off when the internationals depart.

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season

The Pride take part in the NWSL kit reset with new primary and secondary jerseys for the 2024 season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride unveiled their two new kits today ahead of the 2024 NWSL season. The jerseys are part of the league-wide kit reset, launched by the NWSL and Nike. The club’s new Phoenix Kit features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue, and the secondary Citrus Kit has an all-new color scheme, paying tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. Both jerseys will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at “The Kit Party presented by Orlando Health,” taking place at the Orlando Regional History Center.

Replicas of the two new jerseys are available for purchase at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in The Den at Inter&Co Stadium during regular business hours, and on NWSLshop.com. Replica goalkeeper jerseys will also be made available during a late spring release.

“We are proud to share two new, powerful kits with our fans and honored that we are again able to share the story of one of the pillars of our community and the state of Florida,” Pride Chief Marketing Officer Pedro Araujo said in a club press release. “Each year, it is important for us to use our platform to celebrate those that laid the foundation for our city, and this year is no different. We hope our fans are as excited to wear the Citrus Kit and the Phoenix Kit as we are, and to proudly represent Orlando both at home and outside of Central Florida. This new partnership with Nike is a very exciting moment for the league. We’re grateful for their continued support of the Orlando Pride and the NWSL as a whole and are excited for the future opportunities this new, refreshed commitment will bring to our kits and team performance gear.”

The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green scheme, a first for the Pride, with inspiration taken from Central Florida’s citrus industry. The jersey features oranges and leaves, with letters and numbers featuring the same iced-out green coloring. The design of the kit takes direct inspiration from the historic packaging of citrus crates and labels, unique to each grove. The back of the socks features a hand-drawn “Pride,” which is also inspired by the labels. Meanwhile, the “Outer Pride” on the lower corner of the jersey is a stylized “OP” with an orange cross-section and orange blossom leaves and flowers.

The primary home jersey this season will be the new Phoenix Kit, which is more recognizable to fans. The jersey features the club’s traditional colors of purple with blue letters and numbers. The jersey features a unique two-toned purple gradient that runs diagonally from the top right to the bottom left of the jersey. The club’s shirt sponsor, Orlando Health, remains in white, but the letters, numbers, and Nike logo on the darker purple are the team’s second color, “Eola Blue.”

The new kits are part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset, the first time a women’s professional soccer league has presented refreshed primary and secondary uniforms for all of its teams. Each club is receiving jerseys that reflect the club’s identity and joyful expression and celebrate the team’s community.

The Pride’s unveiling has been in cooperation with Hollieanna Groves, a local and family-owned grower, harvester, packer, and shipper of Florida citrus. The Maitland-based company is a fourth-generation packing house and sales room, providing the backdrop for one of the club’s kit photo shoots.

Here are some photos of the Pride’s newest kits courtesy of the Pride:

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Orlando Pride

Orlando Pride Place Megan Montefusco on Season-Ending Injury List

The Orlando Pride have placed center back Megan Montefusco on the season-ending injury list following surgery on her right foot.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

The Orlando Pride announced this afternoon that center back Megan Montefusco has been placed on the season-ending injury list. The defender had off-season right foot surgery, performed by the club’s official medical team, to repair a long-term problem.

“This is an unfortunate situation for Megan, though we’re happy she was able to address an issue that has plagued her for some time, and we are confident she will come out of this a stronger athlete,” Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter said in a club press release. “Our club is fully behind her and will support her throughout her rehab process, as will our amazing partners at Orlando Health. Our goal is to help Megan get back on the field as safely and smartly as possible, and we are behind her every step of the way. We look forward to seeing her back out on the pitch as soon as she is ready.”

The Pride originally acquired the defender in a trade with the Houston Dash on Jan. 28, 2022 that saw Marisa Viggiano go the other way. She was a regular starter at center back that year and through most of 2023, but lost the starting position when the club signed Brazilian international Rafaelle. Montefusco has made 45 appearances (42 starts) for 3,773 minutes in all competitions over her two seasons in Orlando, scoring one goal.

The 31 year-old signed a new contract with the Pride on June 15, 2023 through the 2024 season with an option for 2025. As one of the team’s main representatives alongside fellow center back Carrie Lawrence, Montefusco appeared at Orlando City’s preseason game against the New England Revolution, signing autographs and taking part in a question-and-answer session while wearing a walking boot.

What It Means for Orlando

This news is a bit of a blow to Orlando’s depth on the back line. Montefusco was the first center back off the bench late last year and was expected to have the same role this year. However, her absence will make room for Lawrence, who missed the 2023 season after suffering a torn ACL during preseason, and Tori Hansen, who is currently on loan with Melbourne Victory FC in Australia. The duo will now compete for the third center back spot unless the club replaces Montefusco with another veteran, as the NWSL transfer window remains open.

This injury could also open up a spot for the Pride to sign 2024 second-round NWSL Draft pick Cori Dyke, who the club took at No. 22 overall out of Penn State. Dyke has experience at center back in college. She played as a central midfielder for the first four years in college, but moved to center back for her final season. Despite moving to the back line, the 2023 season was her most productive offensively, as she recorded five goals and six assists.

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