Orlando Pride trades for World Cup champion, Australian International player, draft picks

Orlando Pride has acquired U.S Women’s National Team defender Emily Sonnett, the rights to Australian forward Caitlin Foord and two picks in the 2020 NWSL College Draft (No. 7 and No. 14 overall) from Portland Thorns FC. In return, the Thorns have received the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2020 College Draft from Orlando. 

“Acquiring not only one, but two players with the domestic and international resumes of Emily and Caitlin, plus additional draft picks for 2020, puts the Club in a strong position to continue building for both short and long-term success,” Orlando Pride GM Erik Ustruck said. “Emily and Caitlin are two players we have targeted for a while and we are incredibly happy to come to terms on this deal.”

“I’m very excited to be able to acquire Emily, a young, World Cup-winning center back, and the rights to Caitlin, one of Australia’s most promising talents, for the Pride. Adding the No. 7 and No. 14 picks in the draft also, not only gives us two additional assets in the acquisition, but allows us to stay in the draft early on and bolster the roster,” Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner said. “Emily is a front-footed defender who isn’t afraid to get into the trenches and has loads of potential to become one of the best center backs in the world. Caitlin is versatile, able to play both forward and defender, and can bring another level of quality to support the strikers we already have on our team. We’re very happy to acquire two players who are proven both in the NWSL and with their national teams.”

Sonnett, 26, comes to Orlando fresh off of the U.S. WNT’s 2019 Women’s World Cup victory, the first of her career. Sonnett made her senior national team debut in October 2015 and since then has compiled 40 caps with three assists to her name. In 2016, the defender was also named as an alternate for the USA’s 18-player roster for the Rio Olympics and has previously won two SheBelieves Cups, the 2018 Tournament of Nations and the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Championship with the U.S. WNT. 

A member of the Thorns for the entirety of her NWSL career thus far, Sonnett was drafted by Portland with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NWSL College Draft out of the University of Virginia. Over four seasons in Portland, Sonnett has appeared in 72 regular season games, starting all but one, with six goals and two assists. 

In her rookie season, 2016, the Thorns became NWSL Shield winners and would go on to win the NWSL Championship a year later. Overall, Sonnett has made six postseason appearances for Portland with two goals. Sonnett was named to the NWSL Best XI in 2018 and Second XI in 2019. 

Sonnett spent the 2017-18 offseason as a member of Australian W-League side Sydney FC, teaming up with Orlando Pride defender Alanna Kennedy to reach the Grand Final. Prior to the NWSL, Sonnett played for both Florida Sol FC and the Chicago Red Stars Reserves of the Women's Premier Soccer League, a second-tier US-based league. 

While at Virginia, Sonnett totaled 11 goals and nine assists over 97 appearances. A native of Marietta, Ga., Sonnett finished her collegiate career with a litany of accolades including 2015 espnW Soccer Player of the Year, 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, NSCAA First Team All-American, 2014 College Cup Most Outstanding Defensive Player, First Team All-ACC and was a finalist for the 2015 MAC Hermann Trophy.

Foord, 25, joins the Pride following nearly two years in Portland. The Australian international totaled 26 appearances across all competitions since joining the Thorns in 2018, scoring three goals and adding two assists.

Prior to her time in Portland, Foord spent time in the NWSL as a member of Sky Blue FC, whom she joined in 2013 in the league’s inaugural season. She would go on to appear in 46 matches for the New Jersey-based side from 2013-15 before departing the club following the 2015 season. In 2017, she signed a one-year deal with Vegalta Sendai Ladies of the Japan Women’s Football League, recording 17 appearances and netting four goals in her lone season with the club. Foord returned to the NWSL after her rights were traded from Sky Blue to Reign FC, then subsequently traded from the Reign to the Thorns along with a 2020 NWSL 2nd round draft pick in exchange for U.S. midfielder Allie Long.

In her native nation, Foord is now in her 11th season in the nation’s top-flight, the Westfield W-League, where she is a four-time league champion. Through that span, Foord has spent the majority of her W-League career with Sydney FC, totaling 77 caps and scoring 26 goals across eight seasons and two separate stints with the club. In addition, Foord also spent two seasons with Perth Glory from 2014-16 and made her W-League debut with the since-absorbed Central Coast Mariners in 2009 at 16 years of age.

On the international stage, Foord has totaled 77 caps and 17 goals for the Matildas, making her senior debut in 2011 in a friendly against New Zealand. Following her senior national team debut, Foord earned Asian Women’s Young Footballer of the Year honors in 2011 before earning Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2016, becoming only the second player to earn both awards throughout their career.

Foord has represented the Matildas at three FIFA Women’s World Cups, earning the Best Young Player award at her first World Cup in 2011, while also competing in the 2016 Olympics. In the most recent edition of the marquee international tournament, Foord appeared in all four matches for Australia, scoring her first World Cup goal against Brazil in the group stage. 

As a green card holder, Foord would not occupy an international spot on the Pride’s roster.

With the trade, the Pride now hold six selections in the 2020 NWSL College Draft, which will be held at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 16 at the United Soccer Coaches Convention at the Baltimore Convention Center. 

The Pride will pick No. 7, No. 10, No. 14, No. 19, No. 21 and No. 30 overall.

The Orlando Pride contributed to this report.