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Wednesday 20 March 2019

Hotshot Roche signs two-year contract with Houston Dash

Stephanie Roche will jet off early next month for pre-season training with American team Houston Dash. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Stephanie Roche will jet off early next month for pre-season training with American team Houston Dash. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Puskás Award runner-up Stephanie Roche is off to the USA after penning a two-year contract with National Women's Soccer League club Houston Dash.

The Dubliner, who finished second only to Real Madrid's James Rodriguez in the vote to choose the best goal scored in the 2013-14 season, will jet off early next month for pre-season training with the American team.

Roche has been in demand since her stunning strike for Peamount United against Wexford Youths - a goal that propelled her to worldwide fame and saw her shortlisted for the Puskas Award.

After signing for French side ASPTT Albi in June of last year, Roche struggled with the language barrier and did not settle in the French suburbs.

Now the 25-year-old Irish international is relishing the chance to play in one of the world's biggest women's leagues.

"I am really looking forward to getting over there and getting started," she said. "No Irish woman has ever played in the NWSL so it is going to be a big challenge for me.

"I am going to have to work hard and get my place in the team.

Language

"I have taken my time with this. 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 for me in the end."

Houston Dash are one of only two NWSL teams affiliated to Major League Soccer teams, the other being the Portland Thorns.

MLS side Houston Dynamo are managed by former Ireland international Owen Coyle and, with Robbie Keane at LA Galaxy, Roche is looking forward to seeing some friendly faces.

"They (Houston Dash) share the same ground as the men's team. 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 was very supportive of me in the Puskas Award and it would be nice to meet him to say thank you."

Houston Dash head coach Randy Waldrum expressed his delight at having Roche on board.

"I am so excited about the signing of Stephanie. We are getting a player who 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. I'm sure she will do well here."

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