The Orlando Pride has signed Haley Bugeja from Serie A side Sassuolo through the 2023 NWSL season, pending the receipt of a P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate.
She arrives after two seasons with the Italian club, where she managed a total of 15 goals and seven assists in 30 overall appearances.
The player began attracting attention at 18 years old, when making her professional debut with the Neroverdi. She concluded her first campaign with a team-leading 12 goals and one assist, earning her a spot in UEFA’s top 10 women’s players to watch.
Her subsequent season saw her substantially sidelined with an injury, but she continued to prove her worth when on the pitch.
Now, she is set to start a new chapter in the USA's NWSL.
“Haley is one of the brightest young talents in the world and we are absolutely thrilled to have her join our Club. She has already shown her quality at a high level in Italy and at the international level with Malta, and she is still just scratching the surface of the player that she can become,” said Pride general manager Ian Fleming.
“She is a constant threat to opposing defenses and will be a valuable addition to our group, both in the immediate and moving into the future, as we continue to build and bolster our roster. We are all very excited to see her in Orlando, as a member of our Pride, very soon.”
Bugeja’s acquisition comes after the trade of forward Sydney Leroux to NWSL expansion team Angel City. Leroux’s departure marks the latest in a string of changes for the Pride.
Since 2021, the team has seen Ashlyn Harris, Ali Krieger, Mia Fishel, Phoebe McCleron, Jade Moore, Alex Morgan, Konya Plummer, Taylor Kornieck, Emily van Egmond, Marisa Viggiano, Brittany Wilson and Jodie Taylor leave.
The Pride also recently bought out the contract of defender Amy Turner.
Beyond players, head coach Amanda Cromwell and assistant coach Sam Greene were placed on temporary administrative leave pending an investigation into “alleged retaliation in violation of the NWSL Policy to Prevent and Eliminate Workplace Discrimination, Harassment, and Bullying".
Given the turmoil behind the scenes, the team has only managed two wins in nine games this season, culminating in 11th place on the table.