How the Orlando Pride will address their roster issues heading into the 2020 fall series.
On September 19, the Orlando Pride return to action in the NWSL fall series against the North Carolina Courage. That in itself would be a daunting prospect during any given season. Albeit, the Courage have been affected by several high-profile departures themselves, the Orlando Pride are currently struggling to fill a match-day roster. The Pride have shifted their focus towards the 2021 season, with the fall series seemingly being low on everyone's agenda. I discussed previously, how a lack of foresight from the league has lead to this mass exodus from the league. As such the quality of the fall series, will undoubtedly be severely diminished.
All that being said, it's still an exciting prospect to finally see our Pride in action again. The likes of Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, and potentially Alex Morgan will still take the field for the Pride during this series. So for that reason, there is still a fair amount to get excited about.
The games could serve as a precursor for 2021, and what to expect in terms of team shape and style ahead of the 2021 season. Assuming that it is able to safely go ahead, of course.
Ahead of the eagerly anticipated roster confirmation we take a little (unconfirmed) look at how the squad might be shaping up ahead of the first game of the NWSL fall series. If anyone has any (solid) information about players who may be available to Marc Skinner’s squad, then feel free to get in touch and we'll edit this piece. It’s fun to speculate until we have a concrete announcement from the club.
Key players like Ashlyn Harris will feature again for the Pride.
In terms of the series itself though, at this point it's very unclear just how the Orlando Pride is going to look. the 12 loan outgoings have left the Pride desperately short in some areas, particularly in the midfield. If you look below, I have included a graphic depicting the options that the team has at this point. Again, I hasten to add, this is as yet unconfirmed. Regardless, we understand that the roster will be supplemented over the coming days and weeks. But more on that shortly.
We know, from various press releases, that the Pride are focusing on 2021. The fall series could be an ideal opportunity to have a look at local talent. It also gives the team chance to see how they cope in game scenarios and situations against quality, professional opposition. Amanda Duffy has spoken, publicly, to the fact that the Pride were going to use the rest of 2020 to identify local new talent, and provide a competitive environment for the remaining Pride members.
Having spoken to Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel, we now know that the team plans to use links with local women's soccer programs, to identify talent that may benefit the team moving forward. There's certainly a lot of talent in central Florida, so it's great to see the team utilising and strengthening those links. These players will be non-rostered, and signed to short-term contracts. Basically, the Pride won't be fielding incomplete rosters. Which will be hugely reassuring to a lot of fans.
We know from the initial announcement from the club, that Ali Krieger's commitments to the Orlando City broadcast team will fit around her duties for the Pride. Julia was able to confirm that this is still the case, despite uncertainty about what Orlando City's schedule might look like during phase two of the MLS regular season resumption. Julia has also been able to confirm Alex Morgan's return to training. Pride fans will be eagerly awaiting her return to competitive action.
These are certainly uncertain and, frankly, bizarre times for the Orlando Pride. Having missed out on the NWSL Challenge Cup it’s honestly just great to have some Pride games to look forward to. Whilst it’s undoubtedly disappointing that the team will take to the field without the likes of Claire Emslie, Emily Sonnett and Ali Riley, it's not all bad. The likes of Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris will all be present. The opportunity to find the best local, young talent ought not to be sniffed at either. This could be a great opportunity for the team to strengthen for 2021. And we can’t wait.
Huge thanks to Orlando Sentinel Pride beat writer, Julia Poe. Julia was gracious enough to field our questions about the Pride’s 'speculative' roster.