Seven Orlando Pride Players Join W-League Teams for 2018-19 Offseason

Seven Orlando Pride Players Join W-League Teams for Offseason

Seven Orlando Pride players are headed to Australia for the 2018-19 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) offseason to play in the upcoming Westfield W-League campaign.

Forward Rachel Hill will return to Perth Glory FC, while defender Alanna Kennedy heads back to Sydney FC. Midfielders Christine Nairn and Dani Weatherholt will join Melbourne Victory FC, defender Carson Pickett and forward Chioma Ubogagu will play for Brisbane Roar FC, and midfielder Emily van Egmond returns to Newcastle Jets FC.

Kennedy, Pickett, Ubogagu, van Egmond and Weatherholt will join their teams on loan, while Hill and Nairn, who were recently extended new contract offers by the Pride, will sign one-season contract agreements with the W-League sides. This season will mark the first W-League stints for both Ubogagu and Weatherholt.

Hill, 23, returns for her second straight season with Perth after playing 12 matches and scoring nine goals during the 2017-18 season. After leading the W-League with six assists and finishing second in the league in both chances (33) and shots (44), Hill was named a Team of the Season substitute by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA). The forward appeared in 21 matches and totaled four goals for the Pride in 2018.

Kennedy, 23, returns to the W-League for her fifth campaign with Sydney FC and her eighth in her home country of Australia. Last season, Kennedy won the W-League Grand Final with Melbourne City FC, a title she previously won with Sydney in 2012-13. Last season Kennedy played in all 14 of Melbourne’s games and scored one goal. With the Pride last year, Kennedy started and played all 90 minutes in 20 games, scoring two goals and adding one assist.

After a season off from the W-League, Nairn returns to Melbourne Victory, where she previously played three seasons from 2014 to 2017. The 28-year-old midfielder captained the squad during the 2016-17 season. In her three previous seasons with Victory, Nairn appeared in 36 matches and scored five goals. Nairn made 20 appearances for the Pride last year, scoring one goal and adding a team-high four assists.

Nairn will be joined at Victory by three-year Pride veteran Weatherholt, marking the midfielder’s first experience in Australia. Weatherholt, 24, was selected by the Pride with the No. 31 pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft. Over three seasons with Orlando, the California native has totaled 3,930 minutes over 54 appearances with three goals and one assists, including two goals for Orlando in 2018.

Pickett, 24, returns to Brisbane Roar for her second season in the W-League. In her first season with the Roar, Pickett scored her first professional goal during the third week of competition against the Western Sydney Wanderers. The left back finished second in the league in crosses (70) and led Brisbane to a semifinal appearance, falling to eventual champion Melbourne City FC. Pickett, who finished her first season in Orlando with 19 appearances and 1,381 minutes, was named to the PFA’s Team of the Season for the 2017-18 season.

Ubogagu, 26, will also join Brisbane and will be the second Pride player making her W-League debut during the upcoming campaign. After being acquired from the Houston Dash in 2017, Ubogagu has totaled eight goals and four assists in two seasons with the Pride, making 40 appearances for 2,685 minutes. The forward previously played outside of the States with Arsenal in England in 2015.

Van Egmond, 25, will begin her sixth season with her hometown club, Newcastle Jets, and her ninth season in the W-League. During the 2017-18 season van Egmond appeared in all 12 regular-season matches, scored four goals, added five assists for the Jets and was also named to the PFA’s Team of the Season. The midfielder finished the 2018 NWSL season, her first in purple, with one assist and 17 appearances.

Pride fans will be able to keep up with players competing overseas during the offseason by following the Pride on Twitter at @ORLPride. In addition, the W-League recently announced that fans in the United States will have access to at least 17 streamed matches on ESPN+ from October to February.