Orlando has a history of superstar players leaving its professional sports teams, and that’s an issue the Orlando Pride will have to deal with when it comes to forward Alex Morgan. On Tuesday, the club announced the United States Women’s National Team player will join French club Olympique Lyonnais for the remainder of its 2016-17 season. Fortunately for Orlando fans, though, she’ll be back in May.
“My decision to play for Lyon was not an easy one, but it is an important step in my evolution as a player,” Morgan said. “I want to thank the Pride and our incredible fans and community for their continued support. I look forward to returning home this summer as a better player and leader to join my teammates at our new stadium as we compete for a[n] NWSL Championship.”
Morgan scored four goals in 15 games played in the club’s inaugural National Women’s Soccer League season in 2016.
“We are obviously disappointed that Alex will miss the beginning of the Pride season but understand her wishes to play in Europe, and we look forward to her rejoining her teammates after Lyon’s season,” Orlando City SC founder and president Phil Rawlins said, per the release. “This in no way affects our plans or commitment to growing Orlando Pride, and we will continue providing the team the best available players, training resources and staff to become a championship contender in the NWSL and a leader in women’s professional soccer.”
The rumors began that Morgan would make a move to France began when Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas relentlessly tweeted at Morgan from March to September 2016. The idea became more prevalent when Morgan visited the club in early December, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel‘s Alicia DelGallo.
The Pride will play the 2017 season in a new, soccer-specific stadium in downtown Orlando.