Christen Press, Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Abby Dahlkemper and Alex Morgan are all returning to the NWSL after brief stints in the FA Women’s Super League last season. But one USWNT star is sticking around: Tobin Heath.
One of the most entertaining footballers in the world, Heath has been searching for a European club to call home since the Olympics ended. It appears she’s found one in the only English club to win a Women’s Champions League title: Arsenal.
Reports on Thursday said Heath had agreed to personal terms to join Arsenal on a free transfer from Manchester United.
Arsenal Women have agreed terms with two-time World Cup winner Tobin Heath, who will join the club on a free transfer.— SkySportsWSL (@SkySportsWSL) September 2, 2021
While Arsenal has yet to announce the transfer deadline-day deal, it has been reported by multiple outlets, including Sky Sports and The Athletic. The BBC reported the deal is likely for two years, which is a bit of a surprise because many expected her to join Press at Angel City when the NWSL club begins play next year.
Heath is a two-time Women’s World Cup winner with 35 goals in 177 USWNT appearances. She’s also won two Olympic gold medals, two NWSL Championships and three NCAA titles.
Heath and Press joined Manchester United last September instead of playing in the NWSL’s Fall Series. The Nutmeg Queen made 11 appearances for Manchester United last season, scoring four goals as the Red Devils finished fourth, one point behind Arsenal.
Unfortunately for United, Heath picked up an ankle injury in January followed by a knee injury in April, which kept her out of the Red Devils’ lineup for most of 2021, though she was able to return in time to help the USWNT win a bronze medal at the Olympics.
Despite the injury-plagued campaign, she still produced marvelous moments, as when she sparked a two-goal comeback in the Manchester Derby with this smashing shot.
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) November 14, 2020
Prior to joining United, Heath spent parts of seven seasons with the Portland Thorns. She’s also got some Champions League experience with PSG (2013-14).
Heath will become the second American to play for Arsenal WFC after Heather O’Reilly. Based on recent tweets, O’Reilly is still an Arsenal fan. I can relate.
— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) August 28, 2021
After a disappointing third-place finish in the WSL last season, Arsenal has bolstered its squad with the additions of Nikita Parris from Lyon, Mana Iwabuchi from Aston Villa, Simone Boye Sørensen from Bayern Munich and Frida Maanum from Linköpings. However, the club lost two massive midfielders in Jill Roord (Wolfsburg) and Daniëlle van de Donk (Lyon).
While the Gunners’ midfield is looking a bit light ahead of the season, they might just have the best attack in England, as Heath joins Parris, Iwabuchi, Katie McCabe, Caitlin Foord, Beth Mead and, of course, Dutch scoring machine Vivianne Miedema.
Arsenal begins its FA WSL campaign on Sunday against defending league champion Chelsea in a blockbuster match on opening weekend. Heath’s former club, United, opens the season on Friday against Aston Villa.
The Gunners have already played a handful of matches this season, including friendly wins over Chelsea and Tottenham. Arsenal has been trying to play its way into the reconfigured 16-team Women’s Champions League group stage and holds a 3-0 aggregate advantage heading into the second leg against Slavia Prague to earn a spot in the WCL group stage.
Now if the Arsenal men could just sign some World Cup winners to make O’Reilly a little happier on the weekends.
Update: The Tobin Heath Arsenal signing was officially announced on Friday.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) September 3, 2021