It was less than a year ago that Orlando City Soccer Club announced that they were expanding into the NWSL, with Alex Morgan, Kaylyn Kyle, and Sarah Hagen as the club’s first signings. As the regular season comes to a close, some may be disappointed in what was admittedly, at times, a rough first season. But there are also a lot of positives to take away from the Pride’s first season of play, positives that they will be looking to build on next season.
The Orlando Pride found a lot of talent on their roster this season, and not just in their international stars. Kristen Edmonds, who the Pride acquired in a trade with the Western New York Flash, has been a phenomenal goal-scorer and offensive presence. Edmonds has six goals on the season, most of which came in crucial moments of the match. Another offensive star was Jasmyne Spencer, who also played for the Western New York Flash but was recently on loan to Sydney FC. Spencer’s speed and skill has created many opportunities for her team, and given her some goals of her own. Head Coach Tom Sermanni will definitely be looking to find more players with their talent in the offseason.
Aside from a star lineup, the Orlando Pride also had an impressive attendance record this season. The Pride broke the NWSL attendance record in their opening match, drawing a crowd of 23,403. They also had the second highest attendance average in the league, behind only the Portland Thorns, at 8,933. The fans have been one of the highlights of the Orlando Pride season, and they’re hoping they can draw out even more crowds at their new stadium next season.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, the Orlando Pride have a lot of bright spots. They recently signed Lisa De Vanna, an Australian National Team Midfielder who is sure to have an impact. The Pride also will get more time to work together next season, and won’t have to worry about losing their international players to national team competitions. With the inaugural season almost over, Sermanni and his team will have some time to sit down, analyze the team, and see what they need to do to improve next year.
That’s why, despite the fact that the Pride are out of playoff contention, this last match is still important to them. For fans that have been so fantastic, a win will allow the Orlando Pride to give their fans the proper send-off until next season. But it will also give the players an opportunity to prove themselves for next year, and the coaching staff an opportunity to see who has the skill and work ethic necessary to move forward. The Orlando Pride will be looking to finish a high note in their final match of the season-- but they will also be looking ahead to their next challenge.