With the departure of Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner still just a few days old, the NWSL side has already found his replacement, at least in the interim. The former University of Florida head coach for the last 26 years, Becky Burleigh, has been named as the Club’s interim head coach, it was announced on Sunday. Burleigh will remain with the team, at the very least, until the end of the season.
“In addition to having a distinguished coaching career, Becky is among the most widely-respected leaders in our sport,” Orlando Pride Executive Vice President Amanda Duffy said in a statement. “Under Becky’s guidance, I’m confident that she will instill a new focus and confidence amongst the team, and strengthen the team’s existing foundation during this unique transition period for our Club. Our goals and expectations for this season remain unchanged, and we look forward to Becky shepherding this team through the remainder of this season to build on its early success.”
“Becky has a tremendous reputation and history of success in women’s soccer, and we are thrilled to welcome her and Alan to the Orlando Pride organization,” said Mark Wilf, newly named Chairman of Orlando City SC and Orlando Pride. “Building the Pride, both on and off the field, is of utmost importance to us, and adding Becky will position this team for continued growth and success.”
Prior to her retirement from UF in February of this year, Burleigh oversaw the Gators program since 1994, putting together a 513–160–46 career record, including one NCAA Championship, 14 SEC titles, while making the NCAA tournament in all but four years of her tenure.
She has also helped produce talented players that have come from Gainesville, including current Pride players Erika Tymrak and Meggie Dougherty Howard. She also coached one of the greatest strikers in U.S. Women’s soccer history in Abby Wambach.
“I’m excited to become a member of the Orlando Pride franchise,” Burleigh said in a release. “My hope is to create a seamless transition plan to build on the growth and strides that Marc and the team have made so far this season. Change, despite being difficult, always brings an opportunity for growth. I’m eager to work in partnership with the existing staff and players to make that happen.”
Joining Burleigh on her staff is former associate head coach with her at Florida, Alan Kirkup, who will serve as interim assistant coach. The former Manchester United player joined Burleigh’s staff in 2005 and has been with her ever since. Prior to UF, Kirkup had stops as head coach in Eastern Illinois, SMU, Maryland, Arkansas and Southampton FC Academy.
Most notably, Burleigh served as the Pride’s color commentator during the 2016 season.
Burleigh and Kirkup will now join the team for training this week, preparing for the team’s next match on Saturday, July 31 in North Carolina as they take on the Courage for the second time this season. That match will kickoff at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park and will be broadcast on Paramount+
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