Hit or Miss: Every USWNT star to play in the Women's Super League
Members of the United States women's national team have been gracing the Women's Super League for many years now, some as part of flocks of players who have flown across the pond together, while others have gone it alone and found great success in doing so.
The stops are rarely long ones for these stars, but plenty have lit up the WSL even in short stays, with two having been able to officially call themselves a champion of England. Many more have enjoyed domestic cup triumphs, too, and appearances at Wembley in the process.
So, who are the players capped by the USWNT to have played in the WSL and how did they fare? GOAL takes a look back over the years...
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Whitney Engen (Liverpool)
When it comes to USWNT stars in the WSL, Whitney Engen is the OG. The defender made her debut for her country back in 2011 and would go on to rack up 40 caps, with her most notably part of the 2015 Women's World Cup-winning roster.
A few years before that triumph, in late 2012, Engen signed for Liverpool and flew out to England to become the first USWNT star to feature in the league. She made a serious impression, too, playing a key role as the club won its first WSL title.
She wouldn't stick around to lift the trophy again the following year, or to be part of the Reds' first adventure in the Women's Champions League. Instead, she re-joined Swedish side Tyreso and was one of three U.S. stars - along with Christen Press and Meghan Klingenberg - to start for them in the 2013-14 UWCL final, in a team that also featured Brazilian superstar Marta.
Engen's stay in the WSL was short, then, but it was certainly sweet.
Crystal Dunn (Chelsea)
It would be another four years until a second USWNT star arrived in the WSL, when Crystal Dunn joined Chelsea. At this time, the English top-flight was transitioning from a summer league to a winter one, and so the American star was present for the entire 2017 Spring Series, the shortened format that bridged the gap for the change, and the first half of the 2017-18 campaign.
During her 12 months with the club, Dunn got to experience Champions League football and helped Chelsea win the Spring Series title. She's spoken openly about how much she loved her time in England but though there were real highlight moments, the soon-to-be World Cup winner saw her position change a lot throughout the spell and Chelsea never really got the best out of her as a result.
Heather O'Reilly (Arsenal)
Heather O'Reilly arrived at Arsenal in early 2017, just a few months after she had called time on a legendary career with the USWNT. That announcement came after a disappointing 2016 Summer Olympics, but it couldn't put a dampener on what she achieved during 14 years with her country - winning three Olympic gold medals and the 2015 Women's World Cup.
The veteran arrived in London with a big reputation, then, and as someone who could certainly help her new team with the huge amount of experience she had. She certainly did that as part of the Arsenal side that won the 2017-18 Continental Cup.
O'Reilly would leave in the summer of 2018 after only 18 months at the club, but she remains something of a cult hero among Gunners fans, even many years later.
Carli Lloyd (Man City)
Several USWNT stars flocked to Europe during early 2017 and Carli Lloyd was the third to land in England when she joined Manchester City on loan for the Spring Series.
The midfielder-turned-forward had a huge reputation following her hat-trick in the 2015 Women's World Cup final. She'd deliver on the big occasion for her new club, too, scoring at Wembley in the Women's FA Cup final as part of the side that defeated Birmingham 4-1 to lift the trophy.
Apart from that, though, Lloyd didn't have a huge impact during her short spell in Manchester - one made even shorter due to a three-match ban she was dealt for elbowing an opponent.
Sam Mewis (Man City)
After O'Reilly left Arsenal in the summer of 2018, there would be another wait for USWNT stars to arrive in England again. The time for them to return would come during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the NWSL season was not played in full. The 2020-21 WSL campaign would be, though, and so many players from the U.S. league flew across the pond for game time.
That included many USWNT members, with Sam Mewis the first to be announced. The midfielder joined Man City for the season and was simply outstanding, coming through as one of the players of the season in England.
Mewis scored seven goals in her 17 WSL appearances and netted a further five in her six outings in the Women's Champions League, including one against the mighty Barcelona.
Two of her biggest moments for the club, though, came in the FA Cup. The 2019 Women's World Cup winner scored the decisive goal in the semi-finals against Arsenal and then got the opener in the final at Wembley, as City went on to beat Everton in extra-time and lift the trophy.
Rose Lavelle (Man City)
Shortly after Mewis was announced, City also revealed that they had signed fellow USWNT midfielder Rose Lavelle. The pair were both part of the starting line up in the 2019 Women's World Cup final as the U.S. defeated the Netherlands 2-0, with Lavelle scoring in a very impressive display that helped her country win the title. There was big excitement from City fans, then, about how they could link up in Manchester.
But, as it transpired, they didn't often. Lavelle had a few injuries here and there, but when she was fit, strangely, she got very few opportunities to show what a world-class playmaker she is. Head coach Gareth Taylor used her sparingly and, when she did play, she was often out of position, too, as a winger or a false nine.
Lavelle did start the FA Cup final and left England with a winners' medal from the outing at Wembley, but it was otherwise a largely frustrating spell in the WSL for her.
Christen Press (Man Utd)
One of the most surprising transfer announcements during the 2020-21 WSL campaign saw Manchester United reveal the arrivals of both Christen Press and Tobin Heath. The pair would join the club for the season as it looked to take steps forward following promotion to the top-flight in 2019.
Sadly, though, Press struggled to get on the pitch enough to help United do that. The forward was ill for a long spell during the first half of the campaign and could only provide glimpses of her world-class ability before leaving the club in the summer, scoring four goals in 14 WSL games.
Tobin Heath (Man Utd & Arsenal)
Heath's time at Manchester United was almost the opposite to Press', with her showing a lot of quality in the first half of the season before an ankle injury stopped her getting onto the pitch again after Christmas. Her most memorable contribution was her performance in the 2-2 draw against rivals Man City, with relentless pressing and rocket of a goal helping United to come back from 2-0 down in a fiery derby.
Almost exactly 12 months after her arrival in Manchester had been announced, Arsenal brought Heath back to England to sign for the club she had supported throughout her childhood.
Sadly, though, her time with the Gunners would be even more injury hit. Again, she provided memorable moments, most notably with a genius assist from a free-kick against Wolfsburg in the Champions League quarter-finals, but was unable to do so on a consistent basis.
Across two spells, the WSL hasn't really got the chance to see this world-class winger in full flow. Will there be another chance? It seems unlikely.
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Alex Morgan (Tottenham)
Certainly the most blockbuster transfer in WSL history, Alex Morgan's move to Tottenham was almost too insane to believe when the rumours started to seep out. But they were indeed true, and perhaps the most recognizable women's soccer star on the planet was heading to north London, with her to make her return to the pitch with the English club after having her first child.
In that sense, it was a great move for Morgan. She was able to work her way back to fitness with Spurs and make her long anticipated comeback there, something she could not have done back home with the NWSL not running a regular season during the pandemic.
But for Tottenham? It didn't have too many benefits on the pitch. The team was crying out for a frequent goal-scorer and Morgan was never going to give them that so soon after taking time out from the game to become a mother, with injuries hindering her a little bit, too, during the spell.
Abby Dahlkemper (Man City)
The final USWNT star to cross the Atlantic during the 2020-21 campaign was Abby Dahlkemper, who joined Mewis and Lavelle at Man City in January. Her move was different to those of her compatriots because she joined the club on a two-and-a-half-year deal, while the rest only signed short-term contracts. It felt like a huge get for City, with Dahlkemper one of the most impressive centre-backs in world football at the time.
She quickly set about showing that to those in England, looking a calm and assured presence in the defence that could also bring a lot of quality on the ball. Yet, it all ended in strange circumstances. The North Carolina Courage, the side that held Dahlkemper's NWSL rights, were keen to bring her back only six months after she had left. City didn't want to let her go and talks broke down.
A couple of months later, after the Olympics, City announced that Dahlkemper had left the club and would return to the Courage. A week after that, she was traded to the Houston Dash.
There's no doubt that the defender added a lot to City while she was there, but that she wasn't for very long and the way it all ended means this one cannot be quantified as a success.