2023 NWSL Draft: Orlando Pride selects three forwards and two defenders; trade two picks for Allocation Money

NWSL: 2023 NWSL Draft

Courtesy of Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

By Luis Hernandez, Contributor

After a lengthy 2023 NWSL Draft, the Orlando Pride walked away with five new players heading into their 2023 season.

In addressing needs, the club selected three attackers and two defenders.

Leading up to the draft, the direction of the Pride was in question. The club still has no general manager in place since announcing Ian Fleming’s departure back in November, they traded their second overall pick to Gotham for cash and failed to land Brazilian star Debinha, who chose Kansas City over the Pride.

With former Pride GM Erik Ustruck acting in an interim capacity for the same role, Head Coach Seb Hines began his first draft in charge by addressing the one of the questions of the roster; the back line. With the third overall pick, the club drafted the top center back in the class, Florida State standout, Emily Madril. She took a different path to the pros after deciding to forego her college eligibility by signing a contract directly with the league through 2025. Madril was then sent out on a short-term loan to BK Häcken FF of the Swedish Damallsvenskan. In her final year at FSU, Madril started all 25 games for the Seminoles during their 2021 National Championship run, where she played a team-high 2,306 minutes, missing only nine minutes all season.

For the Pride, Madril has the potential to be a day-one starter. Prior to the draft, the Pride had three center backs on the roster with Megan Montefusco, Carrie Lawrence, and Caitlin Cosme. Madril can be a vocal leader who is not afraid to take the ball forward and distribute into the attacking half. The transition to the professional level should be easier for Madril as she has been getting match minutes in Sweden over the last few months and was able to contribute a goal from the four matches she subbed into.

“I’m glad I can come in with that experience,” Madril said, “I tried to soak in as much as I could while I was in Sweden and I think I still have a lot to learn but I can bring some of what I learned while I was in Sweden.”

In the second round, the Pride made the move to pick the best available player by selecting Texas Christian University forward, Messiah Bright. During her time with the Horned Frogs, she started in 102 games scoring 49 goals with 17 assists, and in 2021, she was able to set her school’s single-season records in goals scored with 17 goals, a mark that was tied for fourth nationally that year.

This adds another scoring option to a Pride team that could only manage 22 goals and an attack which saw Megan Dougherty Howard, who has just signed for San Diego,  lead the team in scoring with only three goals. Bright has a nose for goal and is willing to take her chances in front of the net. For her collegiate career, she was able to put 43% of her shots on frame. 

In the third round, Orlando started with three picks and finished with just one, after trading their 29th and 34th overall to the Washington Spirit for $75,000 in Allocation money.

The pick they kept, the 25th overall, was used to select UNC centerback Tori Hansen. A first-team All-American, Hansen anchored the back line for the Tar Heels, playing and starting in all 26 matches her final year, including a run to the College Cup Final, where they would eventually lose to UCLA. The 5-foot-10 defender was able to contribute to 15 clean sheets in the 2022 season.

By committing to a pair of center backs in the draft, the Pride could have the defensive pairing of the future. Hansen will be pushing for a starting spot from the veteran defenders, and could also allow Carrie Lawrence to return to her natural position as a right back.

For the fourth and final round of the NWSL draft, Orlando picked Summer Yates from the University of Washington with the 39th overall selection. The fifth-year senior was selected to the All PAC-12 first team three times while playing 93 matches with 86 career starts. She can play as a forward or attacking midfielder and her ability to create scoring chances stands out as the strength to her game. Yates has been previously called up to the U.S. U-23 Women’s Youth National Team in 2022.

The Pride coaching staff have looked to address the offensive woes for the previous season and Yates should be able to put the ball into dangerous positions for her new teammates, hopefully translating into more scoring output. While at Washington for her final year, she led the Huskies in goals (7) and assists (6).

The last pick for the Pride was used to select Orlando native Kristen Scott from UCF. Scott was known for her finishing ability for the Knights, as she was able to find the back of the net 33 times from 83 shots on goal in 72 matches played. She is not afraid to charge into the mixer and fight in front of the goalmouth to put the ball in the net. Additionally, in her youth, Scott was a member of the Orlando City ECNL girls’ side and attended Edgewater High School.

As a local product, the Pride had to be familiar with Scott, and will look to her as another potential scoring option.

Here’s what Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines had to say about the draft

“We’re really pleased. Obviously we got some really exciting players, players that cover a lot of positions of need as well. Overall, we’re really excited and really pleased with the picks that we have. We highlighted key players in key positions and you look at the picks that we got, they can come in and make an immediate impact to the team. I spoke about having a competitive environment in our training and I think we have that in our draft picks.”

Player Bios 

Emily Madril

University: Florida State University

Position(s): Defender

Hometown: Boise, Idaho

Youth Club: Gulf Coast Texans

Citizenship: United States

Messiah Bright

University: Texas Christian University

Position(s): Forward

Hometown: Desoto, Texas

Youth Club: Solar SC

Citizenship: United States

Tori Hansen

University: University of North Carolina

Position(s) Played: Defender

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Youth Club: NC Courage Academy

Citizenship: United States

Summer Yates

University: University of Washington

Position(s): Forward/Midfielder

Hometown: Pasco, Washington

Youth Club: Pacific Northwest FC

Citizenship: United States

Kristen Scott

University: University of Central Florida

Position(s): Forward

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

Youth Club: Orlando City

Citizenship: United States


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