The Orlando Pride have loaned Brazilian defender Monica Hickmann Alves to Atlético Madrid Femenino for the duration of the 2017/18 National Women's Soccer League offseason. Today's announcement makes Monica the fifth Pride player to go abroad to play during the winter break, with the other four appearing in the Australian Westfield's W-League. While the season for Atlético will last well into June, the press release notes that Monica will come back to Orlando for the start of the NWSL preseason in March. She will be in Spain for approximately 14 games, depending on the Orlando Pride preseason schedule.
Coach Tom Sermanni lauded the decision by Monica hoping that the veteran defender could "bring her veteran leadership and international experience" to the new club while also experiencing personal growth from playing a new system with a different group of players. Spain will be the fifth different country that the 30-year old defender played for after stints in Austria, Brazil, the United States and Australia.
The 2017 season was Monica's second season with the Orlando Pride, and she tallied 1284 minutes across 19 appearances for the team. She helped improve an Orlando squad that made the playoffs for the first time in their second season in the league. The Pride were defeated by the Portland Thorns in the semifinals of the tournament, which the Thorns would go on to win over the North Carolina Courage.
Atlético Madrid is the reigning champion of the Primera División, the highest level of women's football in Spain. The team earned their second league championship in 2017 and their first since 1990, but the team was disbanded from the early 1990s until 2001. Monica will join forward Francisca Ordega of the Washington Spirit who is also on loan with Atlético, as well as Brazilian nationals Jucinara Soares and Ludmila da Silva. Both Jucinara and Ludmila play on the Brazilian Women's National Team with Monica.