ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2021) — Orlando Pride bolstered its attacking options for the 2021 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season on Wednesday night, selecting midfielder Viviana Villacorta with the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft. With their next pick, the Pride would add another midfielder at No. 14 overall in Mikayla Colohan before selecting forward Kerry Abello at No. 24 overall and goalkeeper Kaylie Collins at No. 34 to close out the draft.
The Draft, which was held virtually for the first time in league history, marked the first drafts for Pride EVP Amanda Duffy and General Manager Ian Fleming, who joined the Club in February 2020 and December 2020, respectively.
“Exciting, stressful, just a lot of fun. I think we came away with some really great players that we can build around for the future,” Fleming said regarding the Draft. “I want [the Pride] to be a balanced squad. We have a team right now that has a great set of veterans, a fantastic group, a good set of young players as well and we want to continue to have balance across the squad in terms of positions, age groups and qualities that they bring to the team. It’s about being competitive, it’s about being able to balance the squad and to look to this season to try to win games but also have a long-view of how we are going to build for the future.”
“For us it was about selecting players that we felt could add good quality depth and challenge for starting places and I think that the players that we’ve selected have given us [that],” Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “We’re extremely happy with the players that we’ve selected. I always want to leave this Club in a better place than we found it and the depth that we’re bringing in now, it will have our stamp of how we want to play on it. That’s the most exciting thing.”
A product out of UCLA, Villacorta appeared in every game for the Bruins from 2017-19, totaling 71 appearances with 60 starts. A two-time All-Pac-12 honoree, Villacorta found the back of the net seven times in three seasons with the Bruins, adding 16 assists. On the international stage, the 21-year-old has appeared for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the U-18, U-19 and U-20 levels, a starter for the U.S. at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
With their first pick of the second round, the Pride elected to select Mikayla Colohan out of Brigham Young University. A MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist in 2019, Colohan has totaled 50 appearances for the Cougars, including 48 starts. Following a 2019 season that saw her score 16 goals while adding seven assists, Colohan was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team, United Soccer Coaches All-West Region First Team, All-WCC First Team, while receiving WCC Player of the Year honors. Through three seasons at BYU, Colohan found the back of the net 24 times with 19 assists to add.
A two-time Big Ten Champion out of Penn State University, Abello has totaled 62 appearances with 43 starts in three seasons with the Nittany Lions, scoring 15 goals and registering eight assists. In each of her sophomore and junior seasons, the 21-year-old received both All-North Region and All-Big Ten honors. In addition, Abello was previously called into camp for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the U-14, U-15, U-17, U-18, and U-19 levels, most recently in 2017 for the U-19 side.
To round out their selections on the evening, the Pride selected goalkeeper Kaylie Collins out of the University of Southern California. As a redshirt sophomore in 2018, Collins was named the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year, leading the conference in regular-season shutouts and posting the ninth-best goals against average (0.506) in the NCAA on her way to earning United Soccer Coaches All-America honors, a Top-Drawer Soccer Best XI nod and appearances on the All Pac-12 and All-Region First Teams. In three seasons of action with the Trojans, Collins totaled 53 appearances, registering 162 saves, 23 shutouts and a 0.78 goals against average.
The Pride will begin its 2021 preseason on Feb. 1 at the Orlando Pride Training Ground at Sylvan Lake Park in preparations for its sixth NWSL season. Fans interested in becoming a 2021 Orlando Pride Season Ticket Member can find more information at orlando-pride.com or by calling (855) ORL-CITY.