Pride to Soar Under New Leadership

On April 14, the Orlando Pride women’s soccer team will kick off its fourth season with a match against the Portland Thorns — a game that will mark not only the first of the new year, but the first under new leadership.

In January, the Pride announced a new coaching team that includes Marc Skinner as its newly appointed head coach, Carl Green as the assistant coach and Lloyd Yaxley as the goalkeeper coach.

Skinner and Green’s ability to combine their skills and lead a team to victory has already been tested and proven in their previous positions: Both are joining the Orlando City Major League Soccer (MLS) operation having made the leap from across the pond, where they previously worked with the Birmingham City Ladies Football Club in the United Kingdom. Skinner served as manager, leading the team with his clear vision of both the ultimate goal and the style with which he believes his team should get there.

The two have already shown their complimentary leadership styles have the power to unite a team and lead its players to victory. Their introduction to Central Florida is yet another opportunity to raise the stakes, this time with new challenges that could mean greater payoff.

In an interview with Orlando-Pride.com, Skinner expressed how his time with his previous team prepared him for the City Beautiful: “We built something special at Birmingham that I was going to continue, but it was this project that replicated one of the biggest challenges for me. I look at the values of the Pride and Orlando City SC in general and they are almost identical to Birmingham but on a grander scale. I think the biggest word that comes out of me is the ‘challenge’ of the project because I think we can be the best.”

That faith in the roster he inherits, in both talent and a commitment to continuously improve, comes with high expectations for each player — expectations that will determine the first steps in their new journey.

“I will assess all of the players,” he said. “I’ll work with the players to see the key ingredients needed and the details needed to take the vision that I see forward. If that needs changing, I’m not scared to change that but, at first, I want to get to know the people. I want to get to know the players.”

Skinner approaches his teams with an emphasis on not just the game, but on the character of his players — even calling it the “secret to coaching.” This proves to not only be successful, but to make perfect sense in the grander scheme of his coaching philosophy.

“We have some of the world’s best players, and we have to build the team mentality to support that,” he said. “Everyone will have to do their part within the team because it doesn’t matter how good you are as an individual, if you don’t play as a team you aren’t going to win anything.”

Ultimately, that win is still the team’s main goal. But for Skinner and Green, the way they win is just as crucial, and far more important to the legacy of the Pride and the entire National Women’s Soccer League. Skinner said his emphasis will be on his tenets of “control, manipulation and entertainment,” but there is also a surprising emphasis on another word: style.

“There’s still an element that we need to turn this into a winning team, but I want to do it with style,” he said. “I have to get this team fighting for the same goal and, for me, that is winning. It’s being successful, but it’s also doing it with character and charisma. It’s winning with quality.”

About the author

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham

Meaghan Branham is a writer and communications manager for i4 Business magazine. A Florida native who graduated from UCF with her BA in English literature in 2017, she looks forward to more opportunities to share the stories of those shaping Central Florida.

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