On Saturday, the Orlando Pride will play the final match of their inaugural NWSL season. The season has been full of highs and lows, but after their final game, the Pride will look to the future and start to develop the squad they need to improve next season.
“We want to keep the core of the team,” Head Coach Tom Sermanni said after training this week. “We’ve got to build on this season rather than try to knock things down and try to rebuild again. So, it’s important that we keep a core of players here, a reasonable number. And then, at the same time… we’ve got to look at going out and strengthening our team, and making us more competitive next year.”
The Pride will have the opportunity to bring in more young players through the NWSL Draft, and bring in more NWSL and international veterans through trade or free agency. But part of the growth of the Pride will be focusing on the players that are already here, including some of their younger talent.
“I mean I think we just had a ton of players that grew,” Ashlyn Harris said. “I think Kristen Edmonds had a breakout year. I think if she continues on this path, I think she’ll get some chances with the US team. I think she deserves that. And I think that [Jasmyne Spencer] had a great year. I think Dani [Weatherholt] did really well, Sam [Witteman] did really well. I mean, these are a lot of young players that stepped in and filled some big shoes. So, I’m happy and I’m proud of them, and it’s gonna be good to see in the future what they can bring for this club.”
Many of the Pride’s international players missed a good portion of the season due to the Olympics. Fortunately, the Pride won’t have to deal with any major international tournaments during the next season. They will be losing veteran midfielder Becky Edwards, who announced her retirement this week, but they will also have time to develop other veteran stars, like newcomer Lisa De Vanna.
While Sermanni admits he already has an idea of what he wants to do with most of his current squad, the players will have one more chance to prove themselves this Saturday, September 24th, against FC Kansas City. Kickoff for the match is set for 5:00pm.