Notes & Quotes: Orlando Pride (3/22)

The Orlando Pride enter their second week of preseason training after defeating Stetson University 9-0 on March 18.


March 22, 2017 at Seminole Soccer Complex

Availability: HC Tom Sermanni, DF Alanna Kennedy

HC Tom Sermanni

Kennedy joined the Pride on Jan. 19 after Orlando traded second-year midfielder Sam Witteman to the North Carolina Courage and Kennedy’s former team, the Western New York Flash.

I think you’ll really just see her quality. She is a terrific footballer, composed, calm on the ball, good decision-maker. And just what you call a class player.

When asked about what he and his team were doing in the second week, Sermanni said it was about upping the tempo as well as making decisions.

Again, similar to last week, we’re kinda upping the tempo of things. So, we expect to see players doing things probably a little bit quicker. Want to see players kind of starting to impress because we’re very much into the decision-making process now. So we’re using a lot of this week, firstly, to increase the tempo and, secondly, to really hone down on assessments.

When asked about how Kennedy can contribute, Sermanni said she’s versatile.

Well, she can contribute in several ways. Initially, most of last season with the Australian team, she’s been playing as a center-back. So, when we looked at her, we penciled her in at that position. But she’s fairly flexible, can play in the center midfield. So she’s got the different qualities to play in both those positions. She’s competitive. She’s a Western Sydney girl. You gotta be tough if you’re from the west of Sydney. So, she’s got that toughness. She’s got quality. But she’s also got the flexibility to play out in the central midfield or the center-back.

The Pride defeated the Stetson Hatters 9-0 on Saturday in Orlando’s first preseason friendly.

It was good. The thing that I was impressed with is how the players went about doing their jobs. It was always going to be difficult for Stetson, particularly as we had two teams and changed the team at halftime. So it was a little bit unfair on them. But I think the thing for me that gave me a good indicator of where some players are at and also help me see that the team’s in pretty good shape and ready to go out there and perform.

Without star forward Alex Morgan, Sermanni said his team has already handled not having her.

The team’s already handled it. You have to handle losing players. It’s simple as that. I don’t know see it as big a deal as perhaps its perceived. And I don’t mean that we’re not going to miss Alex and that she’s not a quality player. But when you’ve got a squad of players, you have to get used to having players in and out the team whether it’s on international duty, whether it’s to injury, whatever. So, we’re just in a situation where we don’t have Alex for the first, I don’t know, seven or eight games? And that gives opportunities for other players.

We want to continue to add to the squad whether Alex is here or whether she’s not here. So, the key thing for us during the offseason was to add competition to the squad and also add quality, and I think we’ve done that.

When asked if the defensive moves outweigh the number offseason offensive moves, Sermanni said he’s not concerned.

Not really. Potentially looking at perhaps signing another offensive player, and I think what we’ve done is we’ve brought in some young, dynamic players in here who hopefully can score goals.

Sermanni and his squad currently have two trialist goalkeepers: Amanda Kopale and Hannah Seabert.

It’s about your third goalkeeper. And it’s a kind of unique situation as a third goalkeeper. You need to be a good trainer, you need to know some days you’re going to turn up, and you’re going to be left on the sideline a little bit. Some days you’re going to turn up, and you’re going to be absolutely pummeled. So there’s certain qualities. So, we’ve got two young goalkeepers here. So, we want them to be in this environment to improve as goalkeepers to do all those things that I just said but also to keep putting pressure on Ash and Aubrey.

[Favoring one is] kinda of things that we haven’t really discussed at the moment. We’re looking at both, and we haven’t kind of gone into those details yet. I think, in reality, we’re more focused on other parts of the team, sorting that out first, and then we can fix up the goalkeeper situation.

DF Alanna Kennedy

Wednesday was Kennedy’s first day of training with the Pride.

Really good. I think everyone’s been so welcoming to me, and I’m a little bit jet-lagged at the moment, but it’s good to be out there with the girls, in amongst the training, and it was a good session today. Just excited for more.

National-team teammates Laura Alleway and Steph Catley played with the Pride last season.

I’d only heard good things. Obviously I’ve been coached by Tom before, and the girls had nothing but good things to say about the team and the club and the organization, so, yeah, I was very excited to join the team.

Sermanni the Matildas from 2005 to 2012.

Really good. It’s close to home, so, yeah, I’m very excited to be around him again. We’ve got a great relationship, so, excited to play for him.

When asked about her past couple days to get into the United States, Kennedy said she was all over the place.

Well, previously to flying over here, just coming back from Portugal, so I’m not sure what time zone I was in for the last week. But, yeah, the flight, over 24 hours, so, yeah, I’m little bit all over the shop, but, as I said, the girls have been really welcoming and made me feel at home.

When asked about what she saw with the Pride last season, Kennedy said she doesn’t know too much about last year’s team.

To be honest, I don’t know too much about the team from last year. Obviously, come up against them but obviously a new team last year, so, I think, a little bit unexpected. That’s not excuse this year, so I think Tom’s obviously put together a good squad, and, so far, it’s just a lot of positive vibes and some great leaders here, so looking to learn off them and very excited to just get on the field.

When United States women’s national-team defender Ali Krieger came to the Pride, she said the difference between the Washington Spirit and the Pride was “night and day.”

I mean, obviously, the difference between—not that Flash is around anymore—but this club’s obviously a lot bigger, and the community’s a lot bigger, but I think just, so far, everyone’s been, as I said, so welcoming, and it’s just a lot of really friendly vibes around here, just make you feel right at home. So I’ve enjoyed that so far, and, yeah, I just think that everyone’s really, really behind the team, which is great. And it’s just us taking care of our football now.

Kennedy is excited about the experience that Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris bring to the team.

I think the difference is probably just the experience level. I’ve played, obviously, with Steph and [Alleway] for a long time, and I think we learn a lot off each other. But having the experience of Ali and Ashlyn is great. So far, I’ve seen nothing but great qualities in them, so really eager to learn from them, and, yeah, just excited.

Kennedy isn’t concerned about not having Morgan to start the season.

As I said, I don’t know too much about what it was like last year, so I’m excited to meet her when she gets here. Obviously a world-class player. But, yeah, so far I think there’s a lot of depth in the team, which is great, and I think it’ll just be awesome to have her back as well and add to the quality that we have up front.

When asked about the growth of women’s soccer, Kennedy said she thinks the W-League and the National Women’s Soccer League complement each other.

I think women’s football, or soccer over here, is just growing more and more by the years. But I think, especially for us in Australia, I think we’re slowly closing the gap, which is great. And it’s good to have leagues like this that we can sort of learn from and see what works for you guys over here. I think, as I said, our leagues complement each other, and it allows us to stay fit all year round. And just play the game that we love.

The Pride will play their 2017 season in Orlando City Stadium.

No I haven’t, but I’ve  heard good things about it. So I’m very excited to play on that. The atmosphere, from what I know, should be pretty good. So I’m very excited.