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Is Rachel Daly headed to England? Four possible destinations for the Dash captain

Dash captain Rachel Daly could be heading back to England on loan. Here are four possible destinations if the Dash captain decides to head home.

Houston Dash Victory Drive-Thru Celebration After Winning 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Just over a week removed from the Dash’s historic Challenge Cup win and their MVP could be on the way out of Houston. But fear not Dash fans, the word is that it could only be on a short term loan.

Captain Rachel Daly said in an interview with Newschain last week, “I may try and go on loan somewhere, maybe in England. But I don’t know yet, I think things will become clearer next week when things have settled down...I think that’s in my mind and I think I need this week to unwind and then see what the plan is moving forward.”

The Yorkshire jewel in the Dash crown is not alone in looking for game time outside of the USA. In late July, USWNT players Samantha Mewis (NC Courage) and Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) signed year long contracts with Manchester City for the 2020/21 season. In addition, ESPN announced last Friday that Scottish creative midfielder Claire Emslie (Orlando Pride) would be joining Everton on a six month-loan.

Whichever way you look at it, the NWSL’s return with the Challenge Cup was a resounding success. Unfortunately any further league play, before the start of the next season in April 2021, remains in doubt. For international players heading to the Olympics next July, the proposition of an eight month lay off between competitive matches is unappealing. It is a necessity for them to be playing more regularly.

The relationship that Daly has with the FAWSL is unique for most English players. Apart from a brief spell as a teenager, for the now dissolved Lincoln Ladies in 2011/12, she has not featured for any FAWSL side. Coming off a successful tournament victory, where she was awarded both the MVP and golden boot awards, you could argue there has never been a better time for Daly to attempt a move across the Atlantic.

For those unfamiliar, the FAWSL is a league of 12 teams that currently has three extremely well fancied title contenders: Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City. Brimming with some of the most talented players from all over the world, these three teams are a tier above the other nine sides in the division.

Daly has shown that club culture and ethics are perhaps more important to her, than out and out quality. Would she even want to go to a team where she wasn’t essential or would end up having to compete for minutes? For that reason I have discounted the top three sides as a potential destination.

The FAWSL 2020/21 season will start on September 7th. Here are four sides Daly could land with:

Manchester United - The glamorous choice

The Red Devils, who will be playing in just their second ever season in the FAWSL, are one to watch. They are making up for the lost time in the women’s game. In attack, Lauren James is one of the most exciting young players in England. At just 19, she averaged a goal every two games in 2019/20. James will be complemented with new signing Ivana Fuso. A Germany U21 center forward, also only 19, who scored six goals in 13 games for Basel last season.

As a team with a big reputation off the pitch but a chip on its shoulder on the pitch; this proposition is well poised for Rachel Daly. United will undoubtedly have the finances to work out something short term with Daly, if they wanted to. Daly’s visibility in the USA and in England is also an added marketing bonus. What might keep Daly away is the strength of the squad and the young talent coming through.

Everton - The fix

The 2019/2020 season culminated in the departure of Everton starlet Chloe Kelly leaving for Manchester City. The young forward dazzled, scoring 8 goals in 12 matches. Danish forward Nicoline Sorensen has arrived as her replacement but Daly would still offer a more mature front option. Daly’s short tenure could help Sorensen adjust to the league without the initial pressures of leading the line.

By acquiring Emslie for half a season, Everton have shown they’re not afraid of using loan signings to bolster their squad. This summer they have recruited heavily from the Scandinavian leagues as well. The club appears happy to invest in players unfamiliar with the pace and style of the FAWSL.

Brighton and Hove Albion - The project

The management on the South coast is the reason this could be a successful move for Daly. Legendary coach Hope Powell has been the one leading the Seagulls since 2017. Powell was in charge of the England Lionesses between 1998-2013. This spell included taking the reins for the Great British Olympic team in 2012. Brighton are also severely in need of a goalscorer, having averaged just 0.75 goals per game in their past two seasons.

I like this outcome because Daly would command attention, develop under a great coach and attempt to once again bring success to somewhere there has been none. On the other hand, Powell’s project may not suit a short term superstar. The backbone of the group could be disrupted by Daly’s brief presence.

Reading FC - The dark horse

With some recognizable names in the English women’s game in their ranks, Reading are an impressive outsider in the league. In midfield, the long-serving Fara Williams is one of the best players of her generation. Matching her footballing intelligence with Daly’s relentlessness would be compelling.

The Royals have been active in the transfer window this summer and do have less of an obvious need for Daly than others. Having signed Danielle Carter, from Arsenal, the Royals have bolstered their attack with an established player. Reading would offer Daly a chance to play with more talented pieces around her. A title is probably out of the question for Reading. However, a deep run in the FA Cup and a top four finish is not. Daly would be a statement to the rest of the league that Reading are serious about making an impact in 2020.