2018 NWSL team preview: Orlando Pride

After finishing 3rd in the league in 2017 the Orlando Pride are looking to go even greater heights in 2018.

The Orlando Pride will begin their regular season on Saturday, March 24th at home against the Utah Royals. With arguably the strongest roster in the league returning this season the Pride hopes to capitalize on their talent and earn a berth in the Championship game in 2018.

Successful Second Season

After finishing third in the league in 2017 the Pride are anxious to move past their 4-1 semifinal loss to the eventual NWSL Champion Portland Thorns. What began as a rough 2017 season with no wins in the first four weeks the Pride were able to turn it around with a big win in Week 5 of the season against the 2016 NWSL Champions North Carolina Courage, who had beaten them just a few weeks before. This turn led to an 11-7-6 record and for the last two months of the season their wasn't a hotter team to be found, winning six games and drawing 3 in the months of August and September.

Something Old and Something New

With the return of Marta and a healthy Alex Morgan set to play the whole season, there is definitely fire power in the front line.

Along with Marta and Morgan the additions of Sydney Leroux from Utah and the re-signing of Chioma Ubogagu will hopefully add some depth. Last season while Morgan was playing in France the Pride were in need for some additional attacking options and sought out Ubogagu, who they signed for a third round draft pick from Houston. Once with the team she made an immediate impact playing in 20 games and starting in 16 of them, scoring 4 goals and adding 3 assists. She played many roles with the team, including a stent on the back line, earning her a look and a call-up by Jill Ellis for the USWNT.

Chioma Ubogagu during practice (Photo: Orlando Pride)
Chioma Ubogagu during a recent practice. (Photo Courtesy: Orlando Pride)

During the off-season the Pride made a strong midfield addition by signing Australian international Emily van Egmond. This will be her second time playing in the NWSL and she is joining the Pride most recently after playing for VfL Wolfsburg in Germany and the Newcastle Jets in the Australian W-League.

Also acquired during the offseason was Canadian defender Shelina Zadorsky. Zadorsky most recently played with the Washington Spirit and will add a huge boost to the backline. She also has experience playing alongside Ali Krieger, which should prove to be beneficial.

Preseason Action

The Pride had three preseason matches the first being against Florida State University on February 28th which they lost by a score of 3-2. They then had a closed door match against the University of Central Florida on March 3rd followed by another open match against the University of South Florida on March 8th, which they won by a score of 5-1. The Pride have played Florida State and the University of South Florida in their previous preseasons. This would be the first time playing against the University of Central Florida.

What to Expect This Season

With the new additions of Sydney Leroux and Emily van Egmond adding to the fire power of strong forward and midfield lines they will hopefully add to the scoring opportunities for the Pride. If everyone can stay healthy they should finish in the top part of the league and potentially win the Championship, and maybe this will finally be the year that they will beat the the Portland Thorns, they may just have the fire power to do it. 

For more information on the full roster release: https://www.vavel.com/en-us/soccer/2018/03/20/nwsl/893951-orlando-pride-announce-final-2018-roster.html