This week, many of the Pride Olympians returned to training to prepare for the remained of the NWSL season. Orlando Pride had six players featured in the Olympics, including two women for the United States, two for Australia, one for Canada, and one for Brazil. The Americans returned to training on Monday, and Brazilian player Monica Hickmann Alves had her first day back on Thursday. The Pride are still waiting on the return of Australian Laura Alleway and Canada’s Josée Bélanger.
“The Canadians are still polishing their medal off at the moment,” Sermanni said with a laugh. Bélanger, who won Bronze at the Olympics with the Canadian national team, has this week off to celebrate and rest before returning to training. Steph Catley will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring injury, and Laura Alleway is week-to-week with a quad injury.
As for Monica, she returned to camp on Thursday and will be available for the match against the Spirit, but Sermanni isn’t eager to start her. Monica played in every minute of every game for Brazil at the Olympics, with only a very short break before returning back to training. “I think this is Monica’s first day back at training so… she won’t start the game,” Sermanni said. “We just need to be careful with her. She’s played six matches in two and a half weeks.”
U.S players Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris have been back in training since Monday. After a disappointing early exit from the Olympic tournament, Morgan got the right balance of playing time and rest. There were some questions about Harris’ fitness - as an alternate, she didn’t play at all in Rio. But Sermanni has faith in her. “She’s been training every day with two or three very high level goalkeepers, and the world’s number one team,” Sermanni said. “The training environment she’s been in has been intense. She won’t miss a beat.”
While there doesn’t seem to be a clear timeline for when Alleway will return to camp, Bélanger is expected back in training next week and will hopefully be available for the match against Sky Blue. The rest of the Pride Olympians will be back in action Friday, August 26th at 7:00pm at Camping World Stadium.