With the 2017 NWSL College Draft done, many clubs like the Orlando Pride, are still finalizing their rosters for the upcoming 2017 NWSL season. The Pride has made significant changes to their roster since the end of the 2016 NWSL season. After the season finale, Becky Edwards, a midfielder for the Pride and the USWNT, announced her retirement from the sport. This seemed to be the start of what would become a busy offseason for the Pride.
While coach Tom Sermanni works to mold and shape what he hopes to be a championship contender, the Orlando City Soccer Club (OCSC) has been hard at work building a new soccer-specific stadium for all their teams. The OCSC consist of the Orlando City, a Major League Soccer (MLS) team, the Orlando Pride, a National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) team, and Orlando City B which is a United Soccer League (USL) team.
All three teams will be sharing the stadium that will house 25,500 screaming fans. The stadium will boast the first ever safe-standing supporter section in North America that is designed to allow the supporter groups such as The Crown, Pride's supporter group, and the Ruckus, Orlando City's main supporter group, to jump, dance, and chant their teams to victory without the worry of hitting a chair or armrest. The stadium will have a natural grass field, which is safer that artificial turf, that is sunk eight feet below the ground level for amazing views from street level. Most seats will also have a canopy that has been designed to enhance the crowd noise to hopefully make it one of the loudest places to play.
As OCSC work to complete the stadium in time for Orlando City's first game of 2017, Coach Sermanni is hard at work incorporating all the new faces that have shown up on the roster. As with any team, as new players come in, other players must leave. Just weeks after the 2017 NWSL College Draft, where the Pride selected forward Danica Evans, and midfielder Nickolette Driesse, the roster shaking began. They first begin with a trade for Rachel Hill, a forward selected by the Portland Thorns during the 2017 NWSL College Draft. In return, the Thorns will receive the Pride's natural first and fourth round picks in the 2018 NWSL College Draft. They then traded midfielder Sam Witteman to the newly relocated North Carolina Courage for Australia Women's National Team defender Alanna Kennedy who has playing time with Steph Catley, a defender for Australia Woman's National Team. Within the same week, the announced the trade of Pride's natural third pick of the 2018 NSWL College Draft for the rights to Chioma Ubogagu, a former Arsenal Ladies forward playing for the Houston Dash.
As the roster becomes overcrowded, the announcement of the release of Canadian Nationals Josée Bélanger and Kaylyn Kyle came down from the top. Bélanger has expressed that she will not play in the 2017 NWSL season and focus her attention to the Canada Women's National Team. Kyle has not been verbal with any future plans. You can see the current Pride roster here.
Another new face around the pitch is Goalkeeper Coach Lloyd Yaxley. Yaxley was acquired from the Washington Spirit. He was Ashlyn Harris' coach while she played with the Spirit and he is involved with the USWNT senior and U-23 teams. He was employed by the Spirit for four seasons.
With so many changes on and off the pitch, it is obvious Sermanni is making a run at the NWSL championship. The Pride finished the 2016 NWSL season in ninth place with only six wins. Although 2016 was Pride's first season, Sermanni and the fans wanted more. He is hoping all the new changes will help make it happen.