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Appleton's Hagen excited about new start with newest NWSL team

02/22/2016, 10:30pm CST
Sarah Hagen

Of course, Sarah Hagen (Appleton North/UW-Milwaukee) enjoyed her time with FC Kansas City – after all, she did win two National Women's Soccer League championships during her 16 months with the club.

But the 26-year-old striker rarely found herself on the field when the team had its full complement of players, which wasn't what she had in mind when returned to the U.S. after a highly successful 2½-year stint at Bayern Munich in Germany.

That's why she was thrilled to be traded to the Orlando Pride in late October, when she was unveiled along with U.S. national team star forward Alex Morgan and Canadian international midfielder Kaylyn Kyle as the expansion team's first players.

"Just for me and my career, I just needed a new change," Hagen said earlier this month after joining some of her former UW-Milwaukee teammates on the CRUSA team that won its second straight Women's Open title at Madison United's annual President's Cup indoor tournament at Keva Sports Center in Middleton.

Hagen had eight goals and three assists in 25 appearances (19 starts) in her two seasons with FC Kansas City, including four goals and two assists last year. She logged 994 minutes in 2015, many while the team's international players were at the Women's World Cup. Her only time in the team's two playoff games came in the final minute of the NWSL final, a 1-0 win over Seattle Reign FC on Oct. 1.

"(The trade) was kind of mutual. They knew that I kind of wanted to get somewhere where I would get more playing time," said Hagen, who scored 43 goals in 60 appearances for Bayern Munich. "I'm not a rookie, I'm not a second-year player. I'm well established. I know that I should be getting more playing time than I was. Hopefully, it's a good fit. Hopefully, it's a good move.

"It was a tough call, but every athlete has a tough decision at some point in their career. For me, I'm excited. I'm happy and looking forward to getting there."

In Orlando, Hagen is expected to partner with the dynamic Morgan up top. The Pride's coach is Tom Sermanni, who was the U.S. women's national team coach in March 2014 when Hagen earned her first two international caps.

"I think playing for a team like Orlando, starting off from scratch, is kind of exciting," Hagen said of joining the Pride, who training camp March 14 ahead of their inaugural match April 17 against Portland Thorns FC. "I think our coaching staff has done a great job of putting together a pretty solid starting lineup so far."

Orlando City SC ranked second in Major League Soccer in attendance a year ago in its first season, averaging 32,847 fans per game. During her brief time in Orlando, Hagen got the impression the Pride will be a big deal, too.

"The amount of enthusiasm that the whole organization showed for the women's side was unbelievable," she said. "Even the whole community, people knew that there was a new women's team and they were so excited for it to start up. Hopefully, we can get a good fan base right off the bat and give them something to cheer for."

On Twitter: @sarahapplehagen

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