JJ Duke takes a look at what the Orlando Pride might (and should) do in the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft. Last year’s debutantes will look to add depth in the midfield and scoring options.
Ali Krieger (acquired from Washington Spirit)
Camilia (signing; last club: Tirandentes in Brazil)
Becky Edwards (retired)
Kaitlyn Savage (waived)
Alex Morgan (short-term loan to Lyon)
Possible Draft Day Activity Level
Orlando, with their two picks, shouldn’t fully be sitting on their laurels. Then again, with this draft being as deep as it is, having early third- and fourth-round picks won’t completely hurt them. Don’t be shocked if they trade up and give up players or future picks for a second rounder.
What the Pride Need
Last season was a story of two halves. The first 10 games, they shot for the stars and had quite a fun ride getting there. The Pride won four of their first six games and had some dramatic wins in the process. Head Coach Tom Sermanni got the most out of Kristen Edmonds in the midfield and Alex Morgan looked inspired prior to leaving the team for Rio. After the team saw a half-dozen key players depart for Rio, Lianne Sanderson traded, and backup goalie Aubrey Bledsoe suffer a season-ending injury, the Pride fell apart because of a lack of depth.
A 2-10-1 record from June onward sent them into a downward spiral and a big reason for that was a lack of consistent scoring from the forwards. Edmonds led the team with six goals and Morgan chipped in four. With Morgan in France with Lyon until June at the earliest (maybe), the Pride need another scoring option or two. Lisa De Vanna joined the club at the end of the season and with no major tournaments for Australia and with her playing under Sermanni full-time again, she could carry the majority of the scoring load. Having depth in the midfield and front line will be key.
With the Pride’s first pick of the day coming at No. 22, a lot of the top-tier forwards will be off the board by then. But, the gap between tiers is not big at all so options will be there. Perhaps a forward like California’s Ifeoma Onumonu could get a look here (plus, the Pride’s first-round pick from last year, Samantha Witteman, played with her in college, so no doubt she will have provided Sermanni with a good scouting report).
If Sermanni wouldn’t mind waiting around for UCLA’s Darian Jenkins to return after recuperating from the broken leg she suffered in October, she could be another speedster to add to a front line of De Vanna and Jasmyne Spencer. That would cover the forward option but if they elect to go for midfield depth with their first pick, Jordan Jesolva has the ability to share the scoring load in the midfield with Edmonds. Jesolva scored 10 goals for Santa Clara, and would be reunited with her college teammate Dani Weatherholt in the process.