Stat Girl Sammy: Orlando Pride Preseason Standouts

IMG_3342.JPG

Sydney Leroux Dwyer

Age: 27 

Nationality: American & Canadian 

Position: Forward 

Fun Fact: Of the 35 goals that Leroux has scored for the United States Women’s National Team, 5 have been assisted by new Orlando Pride teammate, Alex Morgan. 

 Photo: the18.com

Photo: the18.com

Sydney Leroux, or as some still say Syd the Kid, has been making waves in women’s soccer since 2012. After a standout career at UCLA that helped her break into the national team, she joined the NWSL as a member of the Boston Breakers. Since Boston she’s had stops in Seattle, Western New York, and most recently Kansas City prior to landing here in Orlando alongside husband Dom Dwyer. However, even though Leroux has bounced around the league, she’s always had a nose for goal which she has shown throughout preseason with the Pride by scoring a total of four goals in just three games. 

Now, if you have followed Leroux’s career from day one then you know her unreal pace this preseason is a sign of very good things to come. In 77 appearances for the national team, Syd has accumulated 35 goals while adding another 23 goals in 67 NWSL appearances. The Kid has averaged about 6 goals a season for each of the four NWSL seasons that she’s suited up for. After sitting out the 2016 NWSL season to give birth to future United States Men’s National Team star, Cassius Cruz Dwyer Leroux had her work cut out for her in order to get back to the force to be reckoned with that she once was. 

Sydney Leroux’s 2017 NWSL season saw her score 6 goals in 23 appearances for FC Kansas City and if her preseason with the Pride has anything to say about that, it’s that those 6 goals last year were just scratching the surface of what Leroux’s potential still is. Look for Syd the Kid to be getting on the end of many balls this year for the Orlando Pride, especially if her girl Alex Morgan is dishing them out because they have scorching chemistry on the field. 

Stat Girl Sammy’s prediction for Sydney Leroux’s 2018 NWSL Season with the Orlando Pride is that she will at least match if not beat her 6 goal total from last year since I see her as a starter week in and week out but only time will tell if Leroux is able to get back to the player that she once was. 


Christine Nairn

Age: 27 

Nationality: American 

Position: Midfielder 

Fun Fact: Nairn appeared twice for the USWNT during her senior year of high school and she scored one goal that assisted by USWNT and NWSL legend, Lauren Cheney. 

 Photo: Vavel

Photo: Vavel

Have you ever sat close enough to hear what players say on the field or on the court at a sporting event? Well if you’ve done so at a recent Washington Spirit or Seattle Reign FC NWSL match then chances are that you’ve heard Christine Nairn's voice echoing from the pitch. Known to many as a fiery player that is not afraid to speak her mind she’s garnered the reputation of a classic strong woman, which has not only given her the opportunity to captain W – League, Melbourne Victory while overseas but also has helped cement her status as a role model for the younger generation. 

After a standout career at Penn State University, a school that also produced former Orlando Pride player Maddy Evans and current Orlando Pride Player Ali Krieger, Nairn took her talents to the NWSL and began her first stint with Seattle Reign FC under newly appointed Utah Royals FC coach, Laura Harvey. In her first NWSL season Nairn appeared in 22 matches, led the Reign in assists and tallied 3 goals. However, after her standout rookie season Nairn saw herself traded to her hometown team, the Washington Spirit. Nairn spent three seasons in the DMV, where she continued to collect accolades. 

In 2014 Nairn found the back of the net 6 times and took an overwhelming 68% of the Spirit’s corner kicks that season. She followed that up with 5 goals in 2015 and 3 goals in 2016, which helped her earn the Washington Spirit’s MVP award as she played a huge role both on and off the field in a year that saw the Washington Spirit make their first trip to the NWSL Final. Sadly, Nairn’s time with her hometown team was short lived as she was sent back to Seattle prior to the 2017 season as part the Spirit’s complete overhaul. The trade saw her once again reunite with Laura Harvey, but the results were not what they once were. 

In fact, 2017 was Nairn’s least productive season in the NWSL. She only scored 1 goal in 23 appearances and while she had 5 assists her Reign FC team failed to qualify for the playoffs. Questions surrounded the team, and many wondered how a team that seemed like a contender right out of the gate every year could fall so far. No direct answer was given, but when Laura Harvey stepped down as head coach everyone knew that the Reign were going in a new direction. 

The Reign’s new direction landed Nairn and her teammates Haley Kompmeyer and Carson Pickett in Orlando eager to start a new journey. The trio are already close and have been welcomed with open arms by returning Orlando Pride players who feel that they are part of the missing pieces that were required in order to push past the NWSL semifinals. In Nairn’s case look for her 2018 season to be all about proving that her 2017 season was just a fluke. 

Stat Girl Sammy’s prediction for Christine Nairn’s 2018 NWSL season has her scoring 3 goals and racking up 4 assists while pulling the strings in a much improved midfield alongside returning Orlando Pride Players Dani Weatherholt and Alanna Kennedy as well as new Aussie import Emily VanEgmond. 


Carson Pickett

Age: 24 

Nationality: American 

Position: Defender 

Fun Fact: Florida native, Pickett has represented the United States at the U-17 and U-23 levels. 

dsc_8010.jpg

January 29th 2018, the day that deep down many Orlando Pride fans knew would come but hoped never did. Rumors had been circulating throughout the 2017 season that star left back Steph Catley would not be returning to the team in 2018. Many thought that she would head to Europe, which is something that she has hinted at in the past, however in an unexpected move Catley was sent west to Seattle in exchange for midfielder Christine Nairn and young and up and coming left back, Carson Pickett. 

The trade that saw the Pride and the Reign swap starting left backs was largely overshadowed by many other multiple NWSL blockbusters that turned up the heat on the NWSL offseason. In Catley the Pride lost a player who was brought in prior to the inaugural season to be part of a core of players that would lead the team into the future. Catley had an established relationship with Pride head coach Tom Sermanni from his time coaching her in Australia and quickly became a fan favorite with the Pride faithful. She participated in multiple player appearances, signed hundreds of autographs and took an insane number of selfies after every match. 

It’s safe to say that not only did Steph Catley leave the Orlando Pride with big shoes to fill on their backline, but she also left the fans with a hole in their hearts that needed to be filled. Enter Carson Pickett. The Pride wasted no time in going after the only left back in the NWSL that could not just replace Catley but potentially one up her. Carson Pickett was named the Florida Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the year in 2012 and helped lead her high school soccer team to 3 state championships before heading off to Florida State University, where she was a four - year starter and totaled 103 appearances for the Seminoles. Pickett’s stellar collegiate career reached an all – time high when she helped lead FSU to a NCAA title in 2014. In fact, during the tournament Pickett helped anchor a defense that did not concede a single goal throughout the duration of the tournament. 

Carson Pickett was the fourth name called at the 2016 NWSL Draft and her destination was Seattle, under the tutelage of Laura Harvey who had watched Pickett’s dominance at FSU and simply could not pass her up. Pickett and Harvey spent two years together in Seattle, where Pickett made 36 appearances for the Reign. In her rookie season, Carson was slowly integrated in the Reign’s dominate lineup as she appeared in 15 games and started 8 of those, but it was her sophomore year that saw her transform into the starter that those who watched her Florida State knew she could be. In 2017 Pickett played in and started 21 of Seattle’s 24 games firmly cementing herself as the team’s starting left back. When Seattle failed to make the playoffs Pickett joined W – League side, Brisbane Roar where appeared in 13 matches and even scored a goal, her first as a professional. 

Coming off of a solid sophomore season, and a remarkable run in Australia Pickett found herself back in her home state Florida, only this time as a member of the Orlando Pride and she’s already made Pride faithful smile. Pickett played alongside fellow Pride players in the annual Kids vs. Pros match with a huge smile on her face, she’s taken pictures with fans on her own time and helped fans get pumped at the Pride in the House event. In no time at all, the void that Catley left will be filled by a what many should consider, a hometown hero. Now, even though Pickett will have to up her game, in regards to crosses and helping build up the attack she seems more than up to the challenge because she’s ready to show the NWSL what she’s really made of and if I’m Jill Ellis I’m keeping my eye on Carson Pickett.