Women’s Soccer in the US is another one of the countless things that COVID-19 has interfered with. Due to the stark difference in restrictions between US and European soccer leagues, six out of the 23 USWNT players who won the 2019 World Cup have moved overseas in a desperate attempt to salvage the little time they have to prepare for the 2021 Olympics.
The first to make the move were midfielders Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle who found their new home on the Manchester City roster. These players proved their worth throughout the 2019 Women’s World Cup as well as past NWSL matches. This addition to the roster will substantially strengthen the midfield.
The next to follow whereas forward Christen Press and midfielder Tobin Heath. These veterans also ended up in England, playing for Manchester United, each signing 1-year contracts. Manchester United is an already well-established team, with notable players on both the men and women’s side. However, within three days of signing with the team, Press and Heath broke a club record. More of their jerseys were sold than any other men’s jerseys for Manchester United. This is a testament to their abilities as players, as well as the mutual excitement to join the club.
Tobin Heath spoke about this big transition of her life saying, “Every opportunity that you get in life to do something unique and that’s going to challenge you and push you is an opportunity that I want to take, especially as a footballer,”.
Defender Emily Sonnett was the next to make the move to Europe, signing with the Sweedish Team Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC and leaving the Orlando Pride NWSL team. Her teammate on Orlando Pride, Alex Morgan, also chose to leave. She instead signed with the smaller club of Tottenham Spurs.
The USWNT is eager to win the 2021 Olympics as that would make them the first team to win the Women’s World Cup and Olympics in what would have been consecutive years. They knew with the uncertainty and restrictions of COVID-19 in the US, they would not get sufficient preparation to accomplish this feat.
Heath pointed out that their “careers are so short…I was very patient in my waiting during our quarantine and lockdown in the U.S. At some point, you don’t even know what the right decision is, but you have to make one — and I chose to come over, and I’m really happy.”