After weeks of speculation, Tobin Heath and Christen Press, integral members of the United States World Cup winning squads in 2015 and 2019 have joined Manchester United Women, the latest in a burgeoning list of stellar names to join the English FA Women’s Super League this summer.
Heath joins on a one-year contract until the end of the 2020/21 season subject to obtaining a work permit. She said “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”.
Her new manager, former England captain Casey Stoney said “we are all excited to have Tobin join the club; she is an outstanding player who brings a wealth of experience to the squad. She is extremely skillful and possesses so much quality on the ball; her speed and intelligence in one vs one situations will be a real asset that will push the team forward this season, and I can’t wait to see her make her mark on the league”.
Heath is a double FIFA World Cup champion and a double Olympic champion. As Carli Lloyd played for Manchester City before winning her second world title last summer, Heath and Press will become the first double world champions to play in the league. Stoney remarked that “Tobin’s many accolades and trophies also show that she is a proven winner and I’m looking forward to seeing her have a real impact in the squad”.
Named United States Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year in 2016, Heath has won 168 caps for the National Team since making her debut in 2008, scoring 33 international goals and providing 40 assists. Now 32, she previously made 23 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain over two seasons before resigning for Portland Thorns who she has represented ever since, twice winning the NWSL championship in 2013 and 2017. One of only two players to appear in every one of their post-season matches, The Thorns will retain Heath’s NWSL rights. In 70 regular season starts for the club, she scored 12 goals and made 24 assists.
Her United States team-mates, Samantha Mewis and Rose Lavelle last month joined Manchester United’s cross-city rivals Manchester City. Like them, Heath is currently under quarantine before she can join her new team-mates in England so she will not be available for Manchester United’s next match away to Birmingham City. She could make her debut after the international break at home to Brighton and Hove Albion at the start of October.
Two hours later, Manchester United also announced the signing of Heath’s international team-mate Christen Press on a one-year deal. She said “I’m really excited to be joining Manchester United this season. 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”.
Stoney added “Christen is a world-class player and we are thrilled to have her on board at the club. She has a proven record and her stats speak for themselves; she’s a ruthless striker who scores so many different types of goals, and I know she can add some real quality to our squad. Christen is also hugely experienced and for me it’s fantastic to add another senior figure like her in the dressing room”.
The 31-year-old Press previously played for two clubs in Sweden, reaching the Champions League Final with Tyresö FF in 2014. In two years at Utah Royals, she scored 10 goals in 25 appearances, recording four assists. As in the case of Heath, The Royals will retain Press’ NWSL rights should she return to the league.
Founded only two years ago, Manchester United gained promotion to the country’s top tier in 2019 and finished fourth in their first season in the FA Women’s Super League last season. Unlike Mewis and Lavelle, Heath and Press will not play in this season’s prestigious UEFA Champions League. Manchester United opened their season last Sunday with a 1-1 draw at home to reigning league champions, Chelsea.