ORLANDO, Fla. – As the 2016 opening ceremony in Rio draws near, and the official Olympic rosters have been slated, teams from coast-to-coast have started preparing for the absence of significant members – one of those clubs in particular, the Orlando Pride.
Not one, but six players on the Pride’s roster have been selected to compete in the Olympic games (Alex Morgan/USA, Ashlyn Harris/USA (Alternate), Josée Belanger/Canada, Steph Catley/Australia, Laura Alleway/Australia, Monica Hickmann Alves) leaving many positions to be filled.
“I think for us we are fortunate in sense,” head coach Tom Sermanni said, “I think we’ve got a number of players who are comfortable playing in different positions. There are set players that you are never going to put in different positions, but we are fortunate that we’ve got players who are actually comfortable at playing in different positions.”
With the Pride coming off of 2-1 triumph over the Boston Breakers on Wednesday, the club was in search of someone to lead the way. Defender Kristen Edmonds (29) didn’t hesitate to step - playing all 90 minutes of the match and netting two goals.
“I think she continues to get better and better. There’s a continuous improvement at the refinement of her game, her decision-making, her running. I think for me, that’s a great example of players at any age can actually improve their game and take it to a different level,” said Sermanni.
Edmonds’s performance was good enough to earn her the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Player of the Week for the first time in her career and in Pride history. Although that alone is an outstanding achievement, that’s not the only reason why teammate Sam Witteman appreciates Edmonds’s game, it goes beyond just her playing ability.
“She has definitely helped me with some of my spacing and some of my movements,” said Witteman, “[But] playing with other experienced players and players that have so much heart and dedication to the game is so inspiring, and I take that from her.”
Orlando looks to build on momentum this weekend as they play host to the Chicago Red Stars Saturday night at Camping World Stadium. Both teams are tied for fourth place in conference standings.
“We go at each game with the same intensity and the same mentality, said Witteman, “We want to win, we want to play our game of soccer, and keep our brand strong.”