USWNT Fan Favorites Tobin Heath, Christen Press Sign With Manchester United

The exodus continues.

Despite the NWSL doing just about everything in its power to remain relevant during a global pandemic, star players continue to flee for Europe. On Wednesday, it was Tobin Heath and Christen Press who ditched the NWSL for greener pastures in England, signing with Manchester United of the FA Women’s Super League. 

Both Heath, 32, and Press, 31, signed one-year deals with the Red Devils, who finished fourth in the WSL last season but were 13 points behind third-place Arsenal. They’ll immediately bolster a lineup that lacks the star power of the three teams ahead of it, including reigning champion Chelsea and Manchester City, which also just signed a pair of USWNT stars in Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle.

Heath and Press are two of the most-experienced, most-accomplished and most-talented attacking players in the world, both having won a pair of Women’s World Cup titles. Press has 58 goals in 138 appearances while Heath has 33 goals in 168 caps, not to mention being the queen of the nutmeg

“I’m really excited to be joining Manchester United this season,” Press said. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to play for such an elite club and beyond ready to get back on the field. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to continue to strive to be my best and to compete for trophies this year. I look forward to this new challenge, and I can’t wait to start training with the team.”

Heath added: “Manchester United is an exceptional club and I’m thrilled to be joining them. I’m looking forward to the challenge of competing in England, playing with and against some of the best players in the world. I have big ambitions for this season and can’t wait to get on the pitch with my new team and start this next chapter.”

Neither Heath nor Press have played since the 2020 SheBelieves Cup with the USWNT. They both opted out of the NWSL Challenge Cup, as many USWNT players did. 

Heath leaves behind the Portland Thorns, where she spent the last seven seasons. She has previous experience in Europe having played two seasons for PSG from 2013-14. Press spent a few years in Sweden before returning to the Red Stars in 2014 then going back to Sweden for a year to avoid playing for Houston. She returned to the Utah Royals in 2018.

Press and Heath are also good friends and business partners, having founded re-inc with USWNT teammates Megan Rapinoe and Meghan Klingenberg. 

Losing both Heath and Press, two of the most beloved USWNT players, is a huge blow for the NWSL. The league began losing international talent after the 2019 season as teams couldn’t afford the biggest stars, namely Sam Kerr. With the U.S. government completely failing in preventing the spread of Covid-19, now American players are leaving the league. Not even an impromptu, mostly meaningless “Fall Series” was enough to keep Press and Heath around. 

One player, Kaiya McCullough, outright said she’s leaving the Washington Spirit because of the country’s inability to contain Covid-19 and the nation’s systemic racism that many still refuse to address.

Fortunately for fans of WoSo, you’ll still be able to watch Press and Heath on TV. The WSL recently signed a deal with NBC Sports to show matches in the U.S., although most will have to either be streamed or shown on tape delay.

It’s possible Heath and Press return stateside next year. With one-year contracts, the WSL campaign will end a little after the start of the 2021 NWSL season. It’s also possible Press, a Los Angeles native, stays abroad until the NWSL’s LA club launches in 2022. 

Either way, the women’s Manchester Derby just got way more exciting than the men’s version has ever been, and we can’t wait to see Preath go head-to-head against Mewvelle. 

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