News Wrap Up: Pride trade Harris and Krieger, hire Cromwell; OCB returns

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The last 48 hours has brought a lot of news to the Orlando soccer scene. Massive changes are underway with the Orlando Pride, while the youngsters of Orlando City will have a new league to play in come next year.

Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger traded to Gotham FC

The longest-tenured goalkeeper and second longest-tenured defender in Orlando Pride history are on the move, as the Orlando Pride traded them to NY/NJ Gotham FC on Monday. First reported by Meg Linehan of The Athletic last week, the Pride received a 2022 NWSL Draft first-round selection, a 2023 NWSL Draft natural third-round pick, and $50,000 in Allocation Money. 

“We have great gratitude for Ashlyn and Ali, two players who have been so ingrained in our club and community, so this was an extremely difficult decision,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club statement. “However, we believe this will be in the long-term best interest of Ashlyn, Ali, and the Pride. We wish them nothing but the best in their new opportunity with Gotham FC. Each decision we make is not done in a vacuum, and with these acquired assets we will continue to work hard to develop our roster to best position this club for success and bring a championship to Orlando.”

Harris, the Cocoa Beach native, was one of the original staples of the franchise, joining the team via the 2015 NWSL Expansion Draft. She holds the club record for appearances and minutes played and was consistent save of the week winner on the field.

Krieger joined the Pride just after their inaugural season, currently sitting second in club appearances, just behind her significant other. Playing both as a fullback and center back over her five seasons with the Pride, she logged the second-most minutes in club history, notching seven assists in her time.

Amanda Cromwell joins as new Pride Head Coach

Originally reported by The Equalizer’s Jeff Kassouf, the Pride officially announced former UCF and UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell as the club’s third manager in franchise history.

“We are excited to welcome Amanda Cromwell as the new head coach of the Orlando Pride,” said Mark Wilf, owner and chairman of the Pride in a club press release. “After a comprehensive search process, Amanda’s tremendous accomplishments and experience as a head coach for one of the most respected women’s college soccer programs in the country stood out. We are fortunate to be able to bring Amanda’s track record of success in developing national, professional, and collegiate standouts, and her commitment and passion for the game of women’s soccer to our club. We are confident Amanda will be a terrific leader for the Pride moving forward.”

“I am grateful to the Wilf family and the entire Orlando Pride organization to have the opportunity as the next head coach of the Orlando Pride,” Cromwell said in the club’s release. “I am thrilled to lead this tremendous group of players and be part of a world-class club. The NWSL is a natural transition for me at this point in my career and I am excited to return to the Central Florida soccer community. At the same time, I am thankful for the nine fantastic years I have spent as the head coach at UCLA, supported by my players on the field, coaches by my side, and an administration dedicated to competitive excellence. I have a heavy heart leaving the players and coaches, but I know the future is bright.”

Cromwell is very familiar with the Central Florida area, having joined the UCF Knight’s women’s soccer program in 1999. After 13 seasons leading the team through two conferences, 11 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and a record of 203-83-26, she moved to UCLA on April 12, 2013. In nine seasons with the Bruins, she led the team to three College Cups winning the championship her first year in charge.

OCB returns for third iteration, joins MLS Next Pro

After a one-year hiatus, Orlando City B returns for the third time, now joining the newly created MLS Next Pro league. Following their time in USL from 2016-2018 and their tenure in USL League One from 2019-2020, the Young Lions will join the 20 other MLS “B” teams in 2022. Four current MLS affiliate Leauge One teams and four USL Championship teams will make the move to the new 3rd division league, joining the rest of the MLS sides. Eight teams will join the league in 2023, four of them being USL Championship sides.

For OCB, this new league will be a more streamlined path to the MLS level, with many of the players coming from the academy and a few from the draft classes of the future. The team will play their home games at Osceola County Stadium, where the team played their League One matches in 2020 behind closed doors. No broadcasting deal has been announced as of yet, but could be factored into the new MLS rights deal set to be enacted next year.

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