Orlando Pride and North Carolina Courage trade defenders
Alanna Kennedy looks to pass the ball against Katie Stengel of the Washington Spirit | Western New York Flash Twitter - @WNYFlash

On Thursday, January 19th, the North Carolina Courage, previously the Western New York Flash, acquired Samantha Witteman from the Orlando Pride for Alanna Kennedy.  Both Witteman and Kennedy made their NWSL debuts in 2016. The Pride selected Witteman from Cal as the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NWSL draft; she appeared in 16 matches with 12 starts. Kennedy started and played in 15 matched for the Flash. The trade was even since both players can play defense/defensive midfielder.

Witteman on the Courage

The addition of Australian Women's national team, captain Lisa De Vanna to Orlando’s roster could have been the reason for Witteman’s departure. Considering the Courage is composed of the previous NWSL champions, their roster is already fairly deep. Witteman adds another layer of depth with her wealth of U23 national team experience. With key player Lianne Sanderson out with an ACL injury, she can slide into Sanderson’s role if needed. In Orlando, coach Tom Sermanni would often play Witteman on the wings, to which she did fairly well. She has a certain speed and tenacity that fits right in with their style of play.

Samantha Witteman playing her rookie season for the Orlando | Source: Orlando Pride - orlandocitysc.com

Kennedy on the Pride

In their inaugural season, Orlando had a rough time organizing a solid, consistent backline. The Australian defender would join her Matilda teammate Stephanie Catley on the defense. Kennedy started her professional career at 16 with Sydney FC of the Westfield W-League in Australia. Joining the Matildas in 2012, she has the experience and skill to help fill any holes in the Pride’s defense. She has the vision and persistence to prevent potential dangers, which is something Sermanni really needs. Kennedy is the excellent box-to-box player Orlando needs to connect their defense to the midfield, the missing piece to their success.