Josee Feature

This week, Canadian Defender Josée Bélanger joined the Orlando Pride for their second week of training. The veteran defender brings with her a strong set of versatile skills that will hopefully help the Orlando Pride create a strong attacking defense.

Bélanger, who spent last season with the Swedish club FC Rosengård, started off as a forward. But when the Canadian National Team needed her, Bélanger stepped into the role of fullback, focusing on her defensive skills while still maintaining a strong attacking game. “I think slowly I kind of prefer now to play as a fullback. I think it goes more with my strength,” Bélanger said after training on Friday. “I feel more comfortable, I think, at that position now.”

Head Coach Tom Sermanni is hoping to utilize Bélanger’s skills to help strengthen the Pride’s attacking game. Steph Catley, an Australian defender who will be joining the team this weekend, has a similar style of play. “Both great engines, both great attacking players but they can defend as well,” Coach Sermanni said of Catley and Bélanger. “So, hopefully we’ll utilize both of those on the right and on the left.”

“Very versatile,” Coach Sermanni said of Bélanger. “She plays essentially as a starting fullback, but as a goal-scoring, attacking fullback.”

Bélanger thinks that the biggest thing the team needs to focus on is getting used to each other’s style of play and trusting each other. “We still need to know each other on the field,” Bélanger said. “We’re all good soccer players, I think it’s just to bring everything together.”

Bélanger seems excited about being in Orlando and about joining the new squad. “It feels really good,” Bélanger said. “Really excited about the season. We have a good group, the spirit is good, we work hard together.”

What Bélanger seemed most impressed with, though, was the supportive structure that the club has created for the players, both with training and physical fitness. “We get a lot of support,” Bélanger said. “It’s really a professional soccer club.”