Amanda Allen planned to attend Syracuse University and play for the school’s women’s soccer team. Then she joined the National Women’s Soccer League’s Orlando Pride for training in March during her high school spring break, and it became clear to her that the professional game was where she needed to be.
“I decided to join the Orlando Pride because they were very clear with their intentions to help me develop into the best person and player I can be,” Allen told The Equalizer. “It really wasn’t a question for me when the opportunity presented itself.”
The Pride announced on Monday that they signed the 18-year-old forward to a three-year contract through the 2025 season, another addition to the growing trend of NWSL teams signing players directly out of high school. Alyssa Thompson turned professional and was selected by Angel City FC with the first pick in this year’s draft. Twice in the past month, NWSL teams have signed 15-year-olds. All of this is possible thanks to new league rules that allow teams to sign underage players and acquire them through methods other than the draft.
Orlando is a young team rebuilding its roster after another challenging season in 2022. New general manager Haley Carter sees Allens arrival as another way for the Pride to build a strong foundation on and off the pitch.
“To be able to have a player with the ceiling as high as Amanda’s, it’s really exciting,” Carter told The Equalizer. “Especially for a club like us. We’re very serious about player development; that’s a priority for us. Yeah, we have a young roster, we are concerned about results, but long-term investment, building a culture and a club that can be sustainable over time, takes time. Making decisions like this really aligns with our long-term strategic vision for the club. That we [are] a club that invests in players and helps them develop over time on and off the field and really embraces the notion that while they’re with us they will improve. Amanda’s ability to improve is exponential in this training environment.”
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