The Orlando Pride have acquired a central defender, bringing in Canadian Shelina Zadorsky in a trade with the Washington Spirit. In exchange for Zadorsky the Pride shipped goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe and their 1st round pick in 2019 to the nation’s capital.
“Shelina brings strong defensive qualities,” Pride coach Tom Sermanni said. “The way we play, one of our emphases this year is that we need to be less vulnerable defensively. Bringing in Shelina who is an out-and-out center back who also has extensive international experience with the Canadian national team will be a big asset for us.”
Zadorsky spent two seasons in Washington after joining NWSL as a subsidized player by the Canadian Soccer Association. She helped the Spirit finish second and reach the 2016 NWSL Championship and was also a starter when the club slid to the bottom of the table following an off season overhaul.
Bledsoe joined the Pride from Sky Blue FC from via the expansion draft and spent two seasons backing up Ashlyn Harris. Last summer, while Harris missed time with an abdominal injury, Bledsoe started 11 consecutive matches, winning five with a pair of clean sheets and a 1.36 goals against average. She is expected to challenge for the starting job in Washington.
“We believe that Aubrey is one of the top goalkeepers in our league and feel like she gives us incredible depth in that position,” Spirit head coach and general manager Jim Gabarra said. “Her development over the past three years has been exceptional.”
Gabarra coached Bledsoe in 2015 when she backed up Brittany Cameron at Sky Blue.
In acquiring the Pride’s 1st round pick in 2019 the Spirit become the first team to trade for an extra pick in next year’s opening round. It is the fourth straight season the Pride have moved their top pick. The only time the Pride have made a 1st round pick was 2016 when they took Sam Witteman at No. 10, a pick acquired from the Thorns (via the Reign.)