Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod said she was thrilled to get a chance to close out her career with the Orlando Pride.
McLeod, a 37-year-old veteran who signed a one-year deal to back up Pride captain Ashlyn Harris, trained for the first time at the Pride’s facility in Seminole County on Monday.
“It was awesome,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited. I think it’s been really wonderful being here. The training facilities are incredible.”
After the conclusion of the 2015 NWSL season, McLeod moved to the Swedish Damallsvenskan to play for FC Rosengård, along with Marta and new Pride defender Ali Riley. During her two years with the team, Rosengård won two Svenska Cupen and a Svenska Supercupen title.
Since her time with FC Rosengård, McLeod played with Växjö DFF, then moved to Germany to play with SC Sand and FF USV Jena.
Amid many stops throughout her career, McLeod said the Pride have displayed a uniquely high level of professionalism while preseason camp was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You know, it’s been a trying time for everyone, but I’ve been impressed by the organization,” she said. “We have weekly updated meetings and it’s really nice to be in the know in a situation that’s constantly changing. I’m proud to be here and it was really nice to put the boots on today.”
McLeod said she felt confident going through voluntary individual workouts despite the ongoing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The club is following National Women’s Soccer League protocol that includes health screenings when players arrive at the facility wearing masks and strict social distancing unless players have been housed together during the league’s mandated quarantine.
“I’ve been really impressed with the safety, actually,” she said. “It is really strict, there’s a lot of protocols, but at the end of the day, I know that health is the No. 1 priority and that’s very clear every time you show up, especially today.
“But even in our meetings and everything we do, we’re trying to make sure we don’t spread anything; to make sure we don’t contract the disease. It’s just about being smart.
“I think at the end of the day, there’s some pretty incredible humans on this team. Very successful female athletes. They’re role models and we want to make sure we’re setting the right tone and the right message to all the young people that look up to the players on this team.”
McLeod has concluded a successful run with the Canadian national team. She made her debut in March 2002 and played in the 2007, 2011 and 2015 FIFA World Cups and in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She led the team in goal to its first medal, posting a shutout over France to win bronze at the 2012 Olympics.
During her career, McLeod notched 118 caps and 45 clean sheets for Canada.
She was first signed to fill in for Harris during the Tokyo Olympics and could potentially earn another year with the club after the Olympics were pushed back to 2021.
“I’ve been wanting to come back to the U.S. for a long time,” she said. “I’m an older player. I’m 37 years old. So to sign a contract this year really meant a lot to me. I mean, I’m really close with my family, and having been so far from them for so long, and I think too, I’ve just been really lucky to be at a club that’s so professional. I’ve never been at such a professional club. To be able to finish out my career, I’m hoping for a year, maybe two more years, that would be a dream.”