Rachel Daly transfer: England star joins Aston Villa after seven years in NWSL with Houston Dash

The Houston Dash announced the official transfer of long time Dash forward Rachel Daly to Aston Villa on Tuesday. Daly was drafted by the club in 2016, and played the entirety of her club career to date with the Houston franchise. The news comes after England’s women’s national team made a championship run during the 2022 UEFA women’s Euro, where the Lionesses defeated Germany 2-1 in the cup final. The Euro title was the first for the women’s team in its history.

“My time in Houston has been a journey. Not many people can say they have played at the same club for seven years. I am honored to have worn orange for that length of time,” Daly said in a club release. “I absolutely love this club and the city of Houston. I have created memories that will last a lifetime. I feel happy knowing that I am leaving this club in a much better place than when I arrived. I can’t wait to see the future success of the Houston Dash. I want to thank everyone, from the bottom of my heart.” 

The official transfer was put in motion after a request by Daly to be closer to home, and the 30-year-old forward leaves Houston with 116 appearances for the club in all competitions. She led the team to the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, the first trophy in club history, and scored 42 goals and tallied 12 assists for the team across seven campaigns in the NWSL. 

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“Rachel has been an integral part of the Houston Dash for seven years and she will be missed not only as a world-class footballer, but also as a driven and passionate leader on and off the pitch,” Dash president Jessica O’Neill said. “This transfer will result in Rachel being much closer to her loved ones, a request we wanted to make every effort to honor. We’re deeply grateful for the commitment and loyalty she’s shown to this city and wish her the best in her next adventure.” 

Daly was often the sole player representing Houston across various NWSL accolades. She was named to the league Second XI in 2018 and 2021, and earned MVP, Best XI, and the Golden Boot at the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. Additionally, she led the team in scoring in 2021 and 2018, plus finished tied for the most goals in the 2019 and 2017 seasons. 

Houston Dash are currently in third place in the league table, and well in playoff position with eight games remaining for the club. If the team makes the playoffs, it will be the first ever NWSL regular season playoff appearance, and would be without the longtime Dash goal scorer. 

Daly also took to social media to leave a more personalized message for fans touching on the topic, saying “This team is on the brink of history and I have to watch from the sidelines as I step away to be closer to family.”

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“To my teammates, congrats on such an amazing run these past couple of weeks. I’m so happy for each of you. I have no doubt you will become the first Houston Dash team to reach the playoffs and I’ll be your number one fan from afar.”

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