After Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle at
Manchester City, fellow U.S. stars Tobin Heath and Christen Press have left their NWSL clubs and joined Manchester United.
Heath and Press both signed one-year contracts that will extend until the end of the 2020-21 season. They will likely then join the U.S. national team for its preparations for the Olympic women's soccer competition rescheduled for next summer.
Both players are familiar with European soccer.
Heath played for the Atlanta Beat and Sky Blue FC before the WPS's collapse in 2011 and spent parts of 2013 and 2014 with Paris St. Germain. She joined the Portland Thorns in 2013 and played 70 games over seven seasons.
"She is extremely skillful and possesses so much quality on the ball," said United coach Casey Stoney. "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."
Press, 31, played for magicJack in 2011, but her career took off after she moved to Sweden, where she played for Kopparbergs/Göteborg and Tyreso. Her play earned her a spot on the national team, and she moved to the NWSL to play for the Chicago Red Stars in 2014 to improve her chances of making the 2015 U.S. Women's World Cup. In 2018, she returned to Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC after refusing a trade to the Houston Dash. Press eventually moved to the Utah Royals, where she spent the last two seasons.
"She's a ruthless striker who scores so many different types of goals," said Stoney, "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."
Heath and Press will be important pieces for Manchester United, which is playing just its third season in English women's pro soccer and its second in the FA Women's Super League, the top flight of the women's game. In 2019-20, it finished fourth but far behind the WSL's big three, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.
Manchester United added English defender Abbie McManus, Swedish defender Lotta Okvist and Dutch midfielder Jackie Groenen. Teenager Lauren James was United's top scorer last season with just six goals, so Heath and Press will instantly make United more dangerous.
United opened the 2020-21 season with a 1-1 tie against Chelsea. It plays its second game on Saturday at Birmingham City.