The Orlando Pride on Monday announced the core of a talented roster — one that was expected to contend for an NWSL title in 2018 — is still under contract.
The Pride, who parted ways with coach Tom Sermanni after the team failed to reach the playoffs, exercised contract options on 10 of their 20 players after the 2018 season. The list includes Brazilian legend and 2018 The Best FIFA Women’s Player Marta, whose option was exercised ahead of what will be her third season in Orlando.
The club has retained the NWSL rights to players whose options have been exercised and extended qualifying offers for new deals for other players. If those options were declined, those players would have entered the NWSL Re-Entry Wire.
The club exercising an option does not guarantee a player will be back next season.
Most NWSL deals are one-year deals with team options, while Marta’s contract was a notable exception. It was a two-year deal with a team option for a third year.
Marta, a six-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, finished the 2018 NWSL season with four goals and four assists during 17 appearances (15 starts) for the Pride. Her numbers were lower than her NWSL-leading 2017 campaign, which included 13 goals, but she still produced moments of magic for the Pride during an up-and-down season.
The club exercised its option on striker and top goal-scorer Sydney Leroux, too. Leroux joined the team via trade before the 2018 season got started. She scored six goals but was hampered by an undisclosed illness and a concussion late in the season.
Other notable players whose options were exercised include Australian national team midfielder Alanna Kennedy and fan-favorite defender and veteran leader Ali Krieger. Familiar midfielders Dani Weatherholt and Kristen Edmonds also had their options exercised.
Forward Chioma Ubogagu, who had a hot start to the 2018 campaign, but finished the season with four goals, also had her option exercised.
New contract offers were extended to talented players like Camila, who in the middle of the season returned from a knee injury she suffered in 2017, and Rachel Hill, who played valuable minutes as a super sub and finished the year with four goals.
Backup goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer was also extended a new contract offer.
In total, the Pride extended contract offers to seven players.
Orlando retains the rights to Federation players Ashlyn Harris, Alex Morgan and Shelina Zadorksy — the list of 2019 Federation players hasn’t been announced yet. Federation players salaries are subsidized by the U.S. or Canadian national teams and their contracts are handled by the national teams.
The Pride ended the 2018 season with a 8-10-6 (30 points) record and missed the playoffs, despite entering the season with high expectations. On-field chemistry was a constant question hanging over the Pride this season, though Sermanni, after he parted ways with the Pride, said the team doesn’t need a major overhaul ahead of the 2019 season.
“I think there needs to be a couple of changes,” Sermanni said. “I don’t think there need to be major changes. I don’t think there has to be a major overhaul of this team. I think it just takes a couple of new players in key positions, and then, the second thing it takes is a couple of players just getting the spark back in their performances.”
Orlando Pride Contract Status (list provided by the club):