In a very long night lasting just over five hours, the 2021 NWSL Draft saw the Orlando Pride select four players, including two midfielders, one forward and one goalkeeper.
For Head Coach Marc Skinner and his staff, this was a chance to add players that could contribute right away to the team.
“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 so far have given us very much,” Skinner said on a Zoom call between rounds Wednesday night. “We’re extremely happy with the players that we’ve signed and especially when you look at Viviana (Villacorta) for example. I think they explained perfectly, she’s like a metronome in terms of keeping the tempo of the game going and being able to dictate that, so you know she’s going to be a wonderful addition to that that midfield role.
“With Michaela (Colohan) she just she just adds so much kind of energy and verve and she’ll get to the box. I’ve always been looking for an aide to kind of mix our styles between attack and defense and transition quickly, so she has that ability. And then when we looked at Kerry (Abello), it was about meeting needs for the ability to change formations quickly and that for me, with her qualities, she can be more of the one situation to her ability to supply players like Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux and Taylor Kornieck, then it gives us a real threat in the air.”
Meanwhile, one of the newest hires for the Pride, GM Ian Fleming shared his thoughts on the four players drafted by the Pride.
“We came in with the idea of being able to get some players that we think can make an impact,” Fleming said, “And so from there we’re looking at positional needs, we’re looking at best player available in any given situation and each pick has its own set of considerations that point: Who’s on the board, are there any offers on the table from other clubs in a trade. When it when it comes down to it with these pics we’re very very happy with we came away with.”
For Pride fans interesed in the direction of the team moving forward, Fleming had this to say:
“This is a team that’s going to be built to win today, but they can start to put their hope in for tomorrow as well.”
Viviana Villacorta – 9th overall
The first of the Pride’s picks on the night, Viviana Villacorta comes out of UCLA having spent a full four years with the Bruins.
“I’m so excited. I’m so honored to be a part of this awesome team with amazing players,” Villacorta said via Zoom after being selected. “It’s an honor playing with [Marta and Alex Morgan]. I know I’m going to learn so much from them and I’m just going to keep growing as a player, and as a person as well, and just playing at that caliber with them, and they’re just going to help me become better.”
The former USYNT player will not join the team right away, with UCLA playing a spring season due to the fall one being delayed due to COVID-19. “Once our season’s over, hopefully winning a national championship, then I’ll come to Orlando and bring everything I have for them,” she said.
Through college, the midfielder earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors her sophomore and junior years.
“I think with my experiences in the past with either the national team or with UCLA, I’ve played with very capable players and really good players that have taught me a lot, and I feel like, at least for me, I bring a lot of connection in the midfield and I think I can definitely thrive with looking like setting up Alex Morgan, Marta just helping them like connect passes everywhere and just kind of cleaning up the midfield and just bringing my style of play to them.
Mikayla Colohan – 14th overall
With their second pick in the draft, the Pride went with another midfielder in Mikayla Colohan from BYU.
A senior, Colohan has played 50 games in three years with the Cougars. She scored 23 goals in college, with 15 in her junior year.
“Just super excited. I can’t wait for the opportunity,” Colohan said after being drafted. “I’m just excited to be a part of it be a part of that city. I’m looking forward to it a ton and I just hope to bring my best I hope anything that I can provide with the team and any assets that they need, I hope that I’m able to provide and I can’t wait I’m looking forward to it.”
The senior was named the WCC Player of the Year in her junior season, to go along with All-WCC honors as a freshman and sophomore.
“I love playing in the midfield. Just a possession style player that loves to attack from a variety of ways, whether it’s trying to get in behind quickly or by combination play. That pretty much sums me up I think.”
Kerry Abello – 24th overall
With their third pick in the draft Penn State forward Kerry Abello. Despite being listed as a forward, the Penn State website lists her as a defender, midfielder and forward, making her an incredibly versatile player
The senior appeared in 62 games with 43 starts, scoring 15 goals with eight assists. She has made two CoSIDA Academic All-America teams in 2018 and 2019 and was selected to All-Big Ten teams as a sophomore and junior.
Abello now provides some much needed versatility in positions as well as depth in the forward spot, as well as getting a player that can provide good balls to forwards up front.
Kaylie Collins – 34th overall
With the team’s final pick in the 2021 draft, the Pride went with a surprise pick, drafting goalkeeper Kaylie Collins out of USC.
A redshirt senior, Collins played in 53 games in three seasons, allowing 41 goals and making 162 saves. Through three seasons she has a save percentage of .798. Across her college career, she compiled a record of 39-8-5, and recorded 23 shutouts.
She was named the Pac-12 Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018, leading the conference in regular-season shutouts and posting the ninth-best goals against average in the NCAA. She also was awarded United Soccer Coaches All-American, a Top-Drawer Soccer Best XI and All Pac-12 and All-Region First Teams.
She will compete with three other goalkeepers on the roster, Ashlyn Harris, Erin McLeod and Brittany Wilson for a chance to make the roster.
The Pride are scheduled to begin their 2021 preseason on Feb. 1 at the Orlando Pride Training Ground at Sylvan Lake Park.