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Orlando Pride use allocation money to sign New Zealand defender Ali Riley

Photo copyright by Patti Giobetti/Equalizer Soccer

Ali Riley is the newest member of the Orlando Pride, the club announced on Monday. Riley, a defender, is the captain of the New Zealand women’s national team and is heading to the United States from FC Bayern Munich. She spent the last year in Germany, making three appearances in the Frauen-Bundesliga.

The Pride announced that allocation money was used to acquire and to sign Riley, who inked a one-year deal with an option for 2021.

Riley, who hails from Los Angeles, California, has made 132 appearances for New Zealand. She has been to four FIFA Women’s World Cups and three Olympics with New Zealand since debuting in 2007.

“I heard really great things [about Orlando] from an old friend of mine, Marta, and I also have a lot of respect for [Head Coach] Marc [Skinner] and seeing how his teams play,” Riley said. “I think all around — this league, this country, the interest of the women’s game and the growth of this sport, the attention from the media and the fans — it’s something I want to be a part of.”

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“I hope both the mentality and attitude I bring, but also the technical ability and the learnings I’ve had playing at some of the best teams in the world, will help bring a little more confidence and a little bit of something different to contribute to a better season this year.”

Prior to her time in Germany, the 32-year-old Riley featured for Chelsea, recording nine appearances. She was part of the FC Gold Pride team in 2010 that won the WPS Championship. Riley was named the WPS Rookie of the Year during her time in California. However, the club folded after the championship-winning season. Riley previously said that the folding was “traumatizing… That whole feeling of not knowing what team you are going to be on the next season, and the trading is still happening.”

Riley then joined the Western New York Flash for one season before heading to Europe. From 2012-18, she made over 100 appearances for FC Rosengård in Sweden.

“We targeted Ali last year and were unable to come to terms but with the new allocation money, it has provided more roster flexibility and allowed us to go after additional players that historically haven’t been available to the NWSL,” Orlando Pride general manager Erik Ustruck said. “From an on-field standpoint, Ali solidifies and improves our back line heading into 2020, which was a key area of improvement for us this offseason. She provides many things we are looking to add to the team: experience, both domestically and internationally, additional energy to our outside back position and is a perfect fit to the culture we’ve worked to establish over the last year.”

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