Los Angeles is set to go another year without first-division women’s professional soccer, as the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has added just one expansion team, Orlando City SC-owned Orlando Pride, for the 2016 season.
Missing out on expansion once more is disappointing, particularly for those waiting for LA to get a women’s team again since the folding of the Los Angeles Sol in 2010. Perhaps one source of solace comes from the fact that Southern California remains a youth and college women’s soccer hotbed.
On that note, Orlando Pride has already started crafting its roster for its inaugural season, with three Southern California natives on the squad.
The headlines came from Orlando’s acquisition of forward Alex Morgan. The Diamond Bar native and 2015 Women’s World Cup winner was traded from the Portland Thorns, with whom she won the 2013 NWSL league title. Morgan, whose husband Servando Carrasco (himself a San Diego native) plays for Orlando City SC, was likened to Orlando City SC superstar Kaká by Pride officials as far as Morgan’s ability to make an impact in both the local and wider markets. Morgan’s star power should help the Pride on and off the field, and at this point there’s every reason to believe Orlando’s women’s team will be successful if the MLS team’s success in year one is anything to go by.
Besides Morgan, two other local natives have been acquired by Orlando, as forward Jamia Fields and defender Cami Levin were selected in Monday’s NWSL expansion draft.
Fields, taken at No. 5 in Monday’s draft, played her rookie season with the Western New York Flash. The Alta Loma native played collegiately at Florida State, and her college ties may have helped the Pride pull the trigger, as they have signed several players with Florida ties. In 10 appearances after her signing in May, Fields, 22, scored one goal for the Flash, who did not qualify for the playoffs in 2015.
Levin joins Orlando from Sky Blue FC, where she played the past two seasons. Hailing from Orange County, Levin ranked second on her team in minutes played, and she notched an assist from left back this season. Prior to joining the NWSL ranks, Levin, 25, played abroad for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian W-League, and for Goteborg FC in Sweden, winning the domestic cup and supercup with the latter.
If you’re looking to see the SoCal trio in action for Orlando, you’ll have to wait a little while, unfortunately. Although the schedule has not been released for 2016, the NWSL season likely won’t begin until April. In the meantime, you can catch Morgan in the final games of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Victory tour and other USWNT fixtures at the start of next year.