Monday marked a historic day for both the Orlando Pride and their brand new signing, Canadian forward Amanda Allen.
For the Pride, it’s yet another young and talented up-and-coming player to add to their core talent pool. For the 18-year-old Allen, it’s the next big step forward in her already promising career.
“I've been wanting to be a part of a pro environment since I was young, so it just feels unreal that my dream’s come true,” she told Orlando-Pride.com.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Allen in her career, getting her start with the Canadian Youth National Teams and playing with the under-17 teams in the CONCACAF U17 Championship in 2022, scoring three goals in the tournament. That performance led her to make her senior national team debut with Canada just six months later.
“Being part of the national team so young was a dream,” Allen said. “It was great playing with them as well, getting my debut in Brazil felt great and pro was the next step, and I wanted to take that step as soon as possible and I’m glad that it became a reality at Orlando.”
That mentality fits in with the youth movement that has been the main focus for the Orlando Pride over this past offseason. Five draftees signed from the 2023 NWLS Draft out of the seven new players speaks to the intent that new general manager Haley Carter and the club are taking in building the future of the roster.
“It's critical to what we're trying to build here in terms of long-term success and culture, so being able to get an athlete like Amanda, who's right at the beginning of her career, who is the future of Canadian Women's Soccer is really exciting for us,” she said.
“She's one piece of this plan that we're building here and making player development and long-term success our main focus.”
With Allen joining the team, she becomes the second 18-year-old to sign over the last year, with Malta International Haley Bugeja joining in July of last year. After the signing of Allen, 16 of the Pride’s 26 players are now under the age of 25.
“We're building a club that we want to be a world-class destination for athletes,” Carter said, “By getting young athletes like Amanda and being able to partner with international federations, we have the opportunity to get the word out about how things are going here and how serious we are about player development. So, the opportunity to have Amanda join us hits all of those wickets for us and we're really excited about what she brings to the table.“
That excitement and willingness for player development is a mutual feeling shared with Allen, who just was recently called up to both the first team for Canada as well as their U20 team for the CONCACAF Women’s U20 Qualifiers starting on April 14.
“I spent the last five years just working on my craft and trying my best to reach the next level, which I'm so excited to be at right now," she said, "and I see myself doing amazing things here in Orlando.”