Puskás Award runner up Stephanie Roche is headed stateside in early March. The Dubliner has signed a two-year deal with NWSL side Houston Dash.
The 25-year-old has been in demand after making international headlines for her strike for Peamount United against Wexford Youths in October 2013, a goal that brought her into the international spotlight when she was shortlisted for the Puskás Goal of the Year award, the Irish Independent reports.
“I have looked into them a good bit online and had a lot of talks over the past few weeks so I am really looking forward to getting over there and getting started with the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) season," Stephanie told Independent.ie.
“No Irish woman has ever gone over to play in the NWSL so it is going to be a big challenge for me. I am under no illusions it is going to be easy.
“I am going to have to work hard and get my place in the team so I am really looking forward to getting over and meeting my team-mates and getting to know them better.
“I have taken my time with this. A lot of people have been asking me where I was going. With France I think I may have jumped into it too fast. I didn’t think about everything. I never thought the language barrier would be as big an issue as it turned out to be in the end,” she said.
Houston Dash is one of two NWSL teams affiliated with Major League Soccer teams, the other being The Portland Thorns.
Roche can look forward to seeing some friendly faces as LA Galaxy Former Ireland international Owen Coyle manages MLS side Houston Dynamo and Robbie Keane is at LA Galaxy.
“They (Houston Dash) share the same ground as the men’s team so there is going to be a lot of people in the stadium. The league over there is very well supported and professional and I am really looking forward to playing there in front of a lot more than 95 people hopefully.
“Robbie Keane was very supportive of me in the Puskas Award and it would be nice to meet him to say thank you for all his support so who knows, maybe when they come to play Houston I will be able to hook up with him and have a chat.”
Said Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum: “I am so excited about the signing of Stephanie, we are getting a player that has great technical ability, a superb left foot, and possibly the best goalscorer to come out of Ireland since Olivia O’Toole,” he said.
“Stephanie will bring a wealth of international experience to our team, and another great attacking option that is different from what we have already. All our Dash fans and fans of women’s soccer in general will be excited about this signing.”