The season opener for the Orlando Pride is less than a week away, as they will travel to face the Portland Thorns next Saturday. In the final week of the pre-season there has been some big news and more results during this last week, and the final cut-down for the roster will be happening this next week.
First the Bad News
One of the toughest things as a fan is when your team has to part ways with a player, and this week the Orlando Pride announced that they were waiving Sarah Hagen. Hagen had a good season with the Pride last year, all things considered, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the club's inaugural campaign. But during the season there were some scares and missed time due to concussion, and it had a noticeable impact on her play.
Concussions are no trivial matter, as research in recent years around the lingering effects of concussions on retired NFL players has shown us, so I can never fault a player for considering his or her long-term health when deciding how aggressively to play on the pitch. I think Sarah Hagen has a lot to contribute to the game still--perhaps more years as a player, and also using her knowledge of the game to help other players and youth develop their skills.
Now for the Good News
Marta has signed with the Orlando Pride! Now if you're a soccer fan and you don't recognize Marta's name, you should just surrender yourself to the fraud police. Marta is a Brazilian superstar whose accomplishments on the pitch are truly staggering. Consider just the following few data points:
- Marta has scored more World Cup goals than any other women's player in history (15)
- Marta has won the FIFA Player of the Year (ballon d'or) award five times in her career (equaling the tally by Messi on the men's side of the ledger)
- Marta has scored 105 goals in 101 career matches for Brazil.
- Marta has scored 358 goals in 321 career club matches as a professional.
Suffice it to say that in the world of global soccer, landing Marta for the Orlando Pride is a bigger deal than the MLS team signing Kaka to anchor the squad. I mean, this is huge! And her signing means that this club is going to be incredibly fun and dynamic to watch on the pitch this season.
Recap of Results
On Friday, April 7, the Orlando Pride played their last pre-season match for the year, defeating the US U-23 team by the tally of 3 - 0 at the Lake Sylvan training complex. And this game saw the return to form for last season's leading goal scorer, as Kristen Edmonds scored two goals and had an assist on the third goal of the day. So that means the Pride have had a perfect pre-season, going 5 - 0 - 0 over that time, scoring 20 goals while surrendering only one.
Orlando Pride Lineup: GK - Aubrey Bledsoe (Hanna Siebert, 76th minute); Defenders - Jamia Fields, Alanna Kennnedy, Toni Pressley (Laura Alleway, 46th minute), Steph Catley (Jordan O'Brien, 76th minute); Midfielders - Maddy Evans (Nickolette Driesse, 66th minute), Kristen Edmonds, Dani Weatherholt (Carol Rodrigues, 76th minute); Forwards - Christina Burkenroad (Cami Levin, 76th minute), Danica Evans, Jasmyne Spencer.
And for those keeping score, here's a tally of goals and assists on the pre-season for the Orlando Pride:
|Danica Evans||Draft Pick||1||1|
Between the spotless record in preseason and the signing of Marta, I am optimistic that the Orlando Pride is poised to make a strong run at the NWSL playoffs and a championship this season.
For weekly news about the Orlando Pride all season long, be sure to tune in to the QueensCast podcast, and if you're a fan of women's soccer, come join The Crown -- we are the only recognized supporters group for the Orlando Pride. In fact, both The Crown and QueensCast were well represented yesterday at a pre-season event featuring four Orlando Pride players.
What about you? What are your thoughts on the Pride preseason? Do you predict the team will make the playoffs and contend for a championship? Or do you think there are too many off-season changes for the team to succeed this year? Let me know in the comments below!